This is a big year for WWE SmackDown! The long-running wrestling series - it debuted on PSone in 1999 - will be released later this year on PS2, PSP, PS3 and Xbox 360. This marks not only its next-gen debut but also the first time a SmackDown! game has appeared on a non-Sony platform.
You'll be able to read our exclusive hands-on of SmackDown! vs RAW 2007 direct from E3 next week. But in the run-up to getting intimate with the game, we caught up with THQ creative manager Cory Ledesma to find out about retro characters, fighting in the crowd and... uh, the all-new sweat system...
What prompted you to take SmackDown! multiplatform for the first time?
We wanted to put our best foot forward on next-generation. It's clear that SmackDown! vs RAW is our best franchise, so we wanted it to be available on all four platforms. We were really hitting a ceiling because we'd released five games for PlayStation 2.
You can see the improved detail we have in the new game. Really the whole idea is that the wrestlers look different from the beginning to the end of a match - with fatigue, damage, sweat - so it doesn't look like you're playing with fake action figures. But, graphics aside, we want people who buy the PSP or PS2 versions to get the same core features they'd get if they bought the 360 or PS3 versions.
So are you drawing a line under past franchises like WrestleMania and Day of Reckoning?
We're not saying that. There are always opportunities for different titles to appear, especially for Wii or DS. We don't have any announcements or anything planned for those platforms yet but that's always a possibility.
Tell us about the new control system...
What you do is flick the right analog stick in any direction and it'll perform a grappling move. So if you perform a suplex, the player can decide to walk around to get in a better position in the ring, he can taunt or, if he wants to start the move, all he has to do is press up on the right analogue stick. You can even do a springboard suplex off the ropes. We found that some new users were a little overwhelmed by the old system, so we really wanted to streamline that. It's really intuitive.