WWE RAW 2 is the original Xbox’s best wrestling game
WWE RAW 2 is the sequel to the generally bad, and creatively titled, pro-wrestling game WWE RAW. Developed by the seemingly-defunct Anchor, Inc., RAW 2 could very well be one of the most improved pro-wrestling game sequels of all time. The roster is bigger, the game looks phenomenal and there are some equally great modes not seen in the PS2’s SmackDown! video games.
Despite the massive improvements, a few glowing reviews and decent sales, WWE RAW 2 is not highly rated by pro-wrestling fans. Is it because of how bad the first RAW game was? Maybe it was the market share the original Xbox had? Or maybe the SmackDown! games were so popular it overshadowed this one? Regardless, every pro-wrestling fan with an original Xbox should have got in the ring with WWE RAW 2.
RAW 2 reflects WWE’s Ruthless Aggression era quite well!
RAW 2 was released in the fall of 2003, when the ‘E was body slammed right in the middle of their Ruthless Aggression era. An era when Brock Lesnar was king (and fans of today…THIS was the real Lesnar, none of this forced-MMA nonsense), Triple H was ruling as world champ, Undertaker was a biker (for some reason?), Goldberg made his (first) comeback, Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam and Chris Benoit were setting the ring on fire with their matches and John Cena was just another up-and-comer.
RAW 2 is a reflection of this, especially in its roster as all the aforementioned wrestlers are in the game, along with the now-legends, the Rock, Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan. Even mid-carders like Shannon Moore make an appearance. It’s massive one, truly embracing everyone on the roster. It even rivals the SmackDown! games. The entrances of each WWE Superstar are all on-point as well.
The game’s production even reflects the tone of the Ruthless Aggression era. The graphics are incredible to look at, and give off a more realistic vibe. The shows and pay-per-views on WWE TV are featured prominently. The game even contains the pre-match bumpers that are unfortunately missing from the current product. The season mode doesn’t have any ridiculous story lines. Up to four players can enter the season mode and, along with chasing the variety of belts, can create rivalries with other wrestlers. Even with each other. Granted, the cut scenes during the season mode lack voice acting, but it gets the job done.
The wrestling in RAW 2 is actually quite good; moving into a pseudo-fighting game control scheme and somehow combining the AKI wrestling game controls. Players will be making reversals with the shoulder buttons on the Xbox controller and creating grapples and strikes with the standard buttons. Chaining strikes and grapples will prove to be second nature, as it is very responsive and surprisingly well-built for the gargantuan XBox controller.
Easily RAW 2’s best feature is also its most deep. Aside from the match customization options, such as making cage, ladder, last man standing, etc., RAW 2 features a lot when compared to other pro wrestling games of this era. From wrestler, to entrance, to attire to even the dynamic during the season mode, RAW 2 has a ton of customization features. This game marks one of the first times a WWE game to feature the ability to create an entrance from scratch. Sure, a create-a-wrestler could just copy another wrestler’s entrance, but why not go further? Thanks to the Xbox’s ability to store media, players can upload their own music for an entrance. Want to make yourself, but come out to “Barbie Girl” by Aqua? You can do that in RAW 2. The game lets the player pick the lighting, pyro effects and what their motions will be. The game even allows for user-generated nameplates too.
The customization does not stop at the entrances; players have full control over how their wrestler looks, down to entrance and cut scene attire. It also allows for more accurate body types when making yourself…if you are into that. Players could create stars of wrestling’s past in short order as well.
Finally, the season modes have a lot of player oriented control. For example, players can jump from either SmackDown or RAW and raise hell on each brand. During a show, the game gives the player a few options. Either wrestle your match and end the week, or wrestle a match, call someone out, interfere during an entrance and/or steal gear from another wrestler. If the player is successful, it will result in ratings boosts, which in turn grants players title shots. Compared to SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, where constantly grinding on matches may or may result in a title match.
One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
Is WWE RAW 2 any good? To quote Steve Austin, “Oh hell yeah!”
The controls, graphics and roster will make any pro-wrestling fan happy. However, it is the huge amount of customization that allows RAW 2 to be spinning in the Xbox tray, like when Booker T does his patented Spinaroonie. Having a couple of friends join in on the chaos is always a blast as well.
The game is backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 and both new and used copies on Amazon won’t break the bank.