Barry Hodgson dons his Spandex pants, rubs himself in oil just to review Smackdown Vs Raw 2009.
Game Title: WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009
Format Reviewed: XBOX 360
Also Available on: Wii, PS3, PSP, DS, PS2
Price: £29.99 – £39.99
You can’t beat a bit of Sweaty, oiled up men in Spandex pretending to hurt each other. I can’t think of a better thing to do than watch a good old bit of Wrasslin’.
Of course, the current product isn’t what it once was, lacking the star power of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, but it’s still (at times) entertaining.
Since the jump to Next gen, the Smackdown games haven’t been as good as they were on the PS2 or specifically, Here Comes the Pain – infact, since then the games have floundered a bit with each iteration changing the formula a lot and removing features that should still be there.
This brings us nicely to the 2009 version. The big hoohah this year is the improved Tag Team features, but there’s a lot more improvements, and things that are a step backwards then you think. Mostly though, it’s things that are improved.
So, what’s new? Well, there’s the aforementioned Tag Team improvements (The AI for one actually helps now! And breaks up pins!), along with the Inferno Match (where you perform moves to raise the temperature of the flames surrounding the ring, then when it hits 300 celsius, you drag your opponent to the flames and throw them out of the ring burning them), a create a finisher mode (more on this later) and a new Camera mode for 1 Player when you leave the ring, as well as the “Road to Wrestlemania” mode.
The Road to Wrestlemania mode replaces last years WWE 24/7 mode, and is actually both a step back and step forward. Why is it a step backwards I hear you ask? Well it drops pretty much everything from the WWE 24/7 mode, there is no GM mode or anything of the sort (which depending on your point of view might actually be a good thing). Instead there are 6 stories featuring round your player choice of CM Punk, HHH, Undertaker, Jericho, John Cena or the Tag Team of Batista and Rey Mysterio (This story is actually playable in Co-op, apparently for the first time in the series history). That’s right, there’s no story mode for your created character.
The positive point of this, is that the story mode is a bit more focused this time and actually has a lot more depth than any previous attempts at a story mode. Not all is lost for your created character though, there is a career mode for them, you pick a title to go for and wrestle your way to it by putting on matches which are rated for quality, the better you do, the more experience you gain and the better your created characters stats become.
Create a Finisher allows you to make a unique move for your created wrestler and give it a nice name like “Snugglebug” or something. You select all the parts that make up the move, so for example, you’d pick them up then hook their arms, lift them above your head then do a neck breaker into a pin. It works really well, and is a nice little touch for those of you (like myself) who love to make a totally custom wrestler.
Strangely, they’ve removed Create a Title, which is strange as it seemed like it was a popular feature. Also there is a new mode called “Highlight Reel” where you can record the best moments from a match, put together a video and share it with friends.
It’s easily the best iteration since it hit the 360/PS3 and it’s got the most right and the least wrong. There’s still some improvements to be made (the animation still looks stiff) but what is there is easily the best WWE game since Here comes the Pain, but it’s still not as good as that. Also, with the promise of Downloadable Wrestlers on the way, the game certainly has a rosy future.