March 30, 2007 - Even if they won't change the Smackdown vs. Raw name, ECW is going to be big in 2008.
In front of a ballroom full of gaming journalists and PR types, THQ unveiled the first in-game footage from Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, but even before the gameplay movies rolled, the static logo blasted across a Titantron-looking big screen and several widescreen TVs let the room know this year would be different.
A purple splash had soiled the familiar Smackdown vs. Raw logo. It said "ECW INVASION."
"ECW is completely invading our franchise," said THQ Creative Manager Cory Ledesma. "It's going to be just as equal to Raw and Smackdown as far as superstars, arenas, attacks you'll have in season mode, you'll have exclusive weapons, exclusive match types - ECW is going to be completely integrated into the franchise."
That's hardcore, but don't think that the innovators of violence were the main thrust of Friday's event. While at the podium, Ledesma spoke about the new Struggle Submission System, superstar fighting styles and got into the brand new WWE 24/7 mode - a combination of the franchise's season and general manager modes.
Remember last year when your goal in season mode was to make it to Wrestlemania? THQ is setting the bar higher this year. A lot higher.
"Ultimately, the goal is to become a legend," Ledesma said. "This process of becoming a legend could take quite awhile."
Pick Undertaker for your WWE 24/7 character? He's pretty popular already, you might be able to knock out his set of preset, unannounced goals in about six in-game months and make your way into the WWE Hall of Fame. Create a character? You could be looking at three years of WWE ladder climbing.
"Really what we wanted to accomplish here was let the user live the life of a WWE superstar," Ledesma said of the mode that will have players training their characters, coping with injuries and managing their brand. "This year it's all about being a legend."
A few of the sweet minutes we got to see of in-game footage dealt with the different types of fighting styles. Raw vs. Smackdown 2008 characters will have two of eight fighting styles - hardcore, high flier, submission artist, powerhouse, brawler, showman, dirty and technician - that will each have their own benefits and drawbacks when characters enter the ring.
For instance, THQ popped a match between Randy Orton and Kane on the auditorium's screens to showcase Orton's dirty fighting style. Kane went to put a beat down Orton, but the devious heel jumped behind the ref, grabbed the WWE employee's arms and used him as a human shield. After a bit of squirming on the ref's part, Orton threw the official into Kane. It knocked the ref out, and the big man down. Orton's dirty demo didn't end there. In another clip, the cowboy's kid placed a chair under the fallen Undertaker's head, grabbed another steel seat and slammed it down to make a noggin sandwich out of the Phenom.