WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw! 2009 Review

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WWE SmackDown Vs. Raw! 2009

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WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw! 2009 is as good as it gets for grapple fans.

We like

  • 'Road to Wrestlemania' is a great addition
  • Customizable experience
  • 70 match types

We dislike

  • Controls still don't feel intuitive
  • Poor audio

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

WWE Smackdown vs. RAW’s inaugural offering of spandex-wearing grappling action celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and impressively, despite a recent attempt by TNA Impact! to muscle in on its patch, remains unchallenged, satisfyingly reaping in the cash benefits of being the undisputed world champion of the pro wrestling genre, a title that it’s held ever since the days of WWF SmackDown!

Without any real competition, and knowing that thousands of wrestling fanatics will probably still go out and buy it anyway, Japanese developer Yuke could have easily sat back and made very little improvement on its latest title. Commendably though, it has taken on board the criticism targeted at last year’s effort and in WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2009 has added a host of worthwhile new features and game modes. Customization and user-created content also returns to play an important role, with an overwhelming amount of options available, affording us with the luxury of being able to tailor the experience to suit our own needs, whilst getting a mouth-watering taste of the complete WWE experience (as seen on T.V.)

The overwhelmingly deep and much criticized ‘24/7’ mode from 2008 has now been ditched in favor of a more streamlined, simplified and focused story mode. ‘Road to WrestleMania,’ offers several branching story-lines as you step into the underwear of one of seven WWE superstars, including the likes of John Cena, Triple H, Chris Jericho, CM Punk and Undertaker. Each star boasts a unique plot that is voiced by their real-life counterpart and penned specifically with the brand and character’s personality in mind. Although some fans may be disheartened to see that their favorite wrestler has been omitted, the whittling down of the roster list has allowed the developer to focus on quality rather than quantity. The desired result has been achieved with each character’s storyline told with typical WWE flair and impeccable presentation. Bolstered by some impressive cut-scenes, there’s plenty of unpredictable and over-the-top action to get stuck into and also mid-match goals and tons of unlockables to gain along the way, including but not limited to new environments and bonus match types.

Aside from a couple of very surreal moments that threaten to push your sanity a little too far- for example, Santino turning into a zombie immediately springs to mind - the multiple story-lines are outrageously entertaining enough to warrant playing as all six characters and are short enough – approximately 2 hours each - to keep you interested and still ensure that the action stays fresh, varied and enjoyable.

The inclusion of Rey Mysterio and Batistia’s cooperative career path is a welcome addition to the series and one that nicely demonstrates the new “Hot Tag” feature that can be used, only once, to tactically gain an important advantage during fights. Whilst your teammate in the ring takes a battering, you can work the crowd up using the d-pad to clap your hands. In turn, this fills a “Hot Tag” meter, which when full gives you the power to launch yourself into the ring and drop your opponent spectacularly by following a series of on-screen prompts. If you pull off this short quick-time event successfully you get rewarded with a full momentum meter, which gives you a significant advantage in the fight. The beauty of the new “Hot Tag” feature is that it can turn the course of a fight instantly, something that we found particularly handy when we were losing badly. Serves us right for playing on the higher difficulty setting!

If you did play WWE SvR 2008 then you’ll be instantly familiar with the control scheme and you’ll also recognize many of the animations that have been ripped from the game. In the ring, it’s pretty much an identical experience to 2008, albeit with a few new moves added to the list and some subtle enhancements that have made fighting more visually arresting and certainly more fluid and responsive.

WWE SvR is certainly not aimed at the casual player. Sure, you can pull off a few simple moves easily enough, wiggle your thumb-stick, mash a few buttons and occasionally execute a how-the-hell-did-I-do-that maneuver, but fight against anyone who really does know how to play, or ramp up the difficulty, ... (continued on next page) ----

A gamer since the days of the ZX Spectrum, Steven Williamson now works as General Manager for PSU. He's supposed to be managing, but if you're reading this, it means he's dipped into editorial again. Follow @steven_gamer
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