Yuke’s continues its long reign as champion of wrestling games well into 2009. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 is a return to last years formula with a lot of well rounded changes. Added depth and a co-op storyline are the highlights in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009. Lace your boots, its time for the game.
Like Madden, Smackdown faithfully comes out every year, and ever year WWE fans line-up to purchase the latest version of the game. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 (WWE SVR09) does its best to emulate the product that is shown three nights a week on network television. In 2009 Yuke’s has refined their control mechanics to make them feel even more fluid, but more importantly they have refocused the story mode to be a wrestler specific tale. Smackdown is very much a habit, an addiction for many of us who want to bring the drama from WWE universe into our homes. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 might not be the best wrestling game ever made, but it sure the best one of the new generation.
Smackdown only takes a few leaps every so often in their long running franchise and every year in between these leaps we have small steps forward. The “09” edition of Smackdown vs. Raw does have a leap forward; it’s more of a side step with a different groove. Admitted to me by one of the PR representatives for THQ, they can only do so much between cycles and before Smackdown 08 was released the development team already started on this years version. The good thing to know is that Yuke's and THQ listen to the fans and pick a few new features to add ever year. So with that said, we have the power to force Smackdown in a positive direction and for some gamers I am sure 09 is their main event.
Tag Team Back Again
Without further adieu here are the new features in WWE SVR09. The first innovation that THQ would like you to notice is the new Tag Team Explosion. Tag matches have always been a sore spot in Smackdown mainly because they lack the team work and feeling of watching two teams works their magic in the ring. Usually Smackdown Tag matches would end up being sloppy without much help from the A.I. The adjustment in 2009 is momentum and tightened A.I. The momentum is set up in place to match the anticipating tag to the teammate when they need it the most.
On the apron you can have more options which include distracting the ref, tagging yourself in, pull down the rope or building up the excitement for a “Hot Tag”. The hot tag is as close as the videogames have come to matching the entertainment of live tag-team matches. Basically the partner on the outside of the ring starts getting the crowd involved in the match, cheering on their partner who is usually getting the tar kicked out of them in the ring. So when you partner stretches their arm out and gets the tag the other member of the team, the "hot" member comes in taking out both of members of the opposing tag-team. It’s not super fluid yet, but is a cool addition to the game that only betters it. Before I move on to the next feature I should mention that you can now do double team finishers which is another improvement to the tag-team aspect of Smackdown vs. Raw. It is good to see Yuke's giving a little more attention to tag-team wrestling since it has been neglected for too long time in the Smackdown series of games.
The Road to Wrestlemania
"Road to Wrestlemania" is another new feature which refocuses the story mode aspect of Smackdown into a wrestler specific storyline. The downside the Road to Wrestlemania is that it is only set up for seven wrestlers, two of which are a co-op story. The featured entertainers in this mode are Triple H, CM Punk, The Undertaker, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Batista and Rey Mysterio. The six storylines are original material written for the game. Each segment is voice acted by the real talent and mirrors something you might see on television. This keeps each wrestlers character in check with a more believable storyline written for them. In the past the generic storylines could be a little far fetched when you have a character like the Undertaker acting like Doink the Clown. Road to Wrestlemania is the cure for the problem and hopefully can be expanded on a yearly basis.
Each story path takes up to three hours to complete with multiple objectives presented through out the storyline. Besides the main objective optional side objectives can be completed to unlock hidden features. Since the storylines have multiple objectives and branching storylines you can replay each character and still have fun within the game. For all those who don’t see their favourite wrestler in the fab seven you can still hit up the sticks and go through the normal career mode which is a series of matches with the objective to win the gold and bring home as many belts as possible. This is where you can take the divas, the rest of the roster and a created wrestler into the race for championship gold.
Gamers who enjoy building CAWs will need to become vary familiar with this mode because it is the only way to build up characters stats. By default the stats for each created wrestlers start at 35 and will increase depending how you perform in the ring. Its fun to run through this mode and win all the belts, but its not too realistic and it is a pain to keep on drudging through mindless matches in order to build up created characters. At the CAW section is a robust as previous editions with a few new moves included. This brings us to the create-a-finisher feature that has been added into 09.
The create-a-finisher lets you create your own unique finisher by going through ten steps of move selections that piece them into one devastating move. After you design your own finisher you can name it and use with your created superstars. The create-a-finisher is nice addition that adds a little bit more versatility when you’re trying to recreate a move that wasn’t inputted into the game. The entire system doesn’t come off without a hitch because it can get a little tricky to create certain moves when your options start to dwindle. All and all, creating your own feature is an excellent addition that feels like it should have been in the game from the get go. Like the new Road to Wrestlemania, I hope they keep the create-a-finisher mode as well.
It's Getting Hot in Here
The content is really overflowing in 2009 with over 60 wrestlers to jump into the squared circle with, in 14 match types. The inferno match is the highlight match in 2009 which has only been seen in the WWE four separate times, most recently with Kane battling it out against MVP. The goal of the inferno match isn’t to pin your opponent, it is to set them on fire. To do this in the game you simply need to drag your opponent into the burning fire that surrounds the ring when it reaches 500°F. Also returning to Smackdown is the popular backstage brawl and the gauntlet match which is basically the slobbernocker match up from earlier games.
What's Not Like T.V.
The artificial intelligence seems to provide a little more of a challenge once you get the game off its default settings. If you still find a problem with the A.I. you can slider everything in Smackdown tweaking it to your liking. Included in this is controlling how much damage a finisher will do. Compared to how wrestling is portrayed on TV, the default setting is a little weak. The roster editor also gives more control over the game allowing you to switch up the entire roster, change their alignment from dirty and clean and throw titles around on whoever you want. This was the first feature I hit up so I could match the game with the current status of real life. The roster this years isn’t too out of whack with the always changing company which is impossible to match up given how frequently the WWE hands out releases. A few of the missing wrestlers from past videogames who are still employed by the WWE include Val Venis, Jamie Noble, Gregory Helms and Charlie Haas. All in all some might be missing like R-Truth or Vladimir Kozlov, but that is what the character editor is for. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw is an open canvas which you can improve upon if you have the time and talent.
Firing up the portable PSP version of Smackdown vs. Raw returns in a fine tuned version of last years game. Much like the console versions, the PSP edition has all the new goodies added into the UMD being only limited to the processing power of the unit. The controls take a little bit of time to get used to if you haven’t played this game on the PSP in the past, however they are workable given the unit disability in button numbers. The new features really make the 2009 edition of the WWE game worth the upgrade; however it can fill the void that the “big boy” versions provide. Still if you need to get your wrestling on in a portable manor, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 is the only way to go.
'WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009' is a more jam packed and solid than last years WWE offering and even though its not the best "WWE" game to be released, it is the best Smackdown game that has been released on the new generations of consoles. Smackdown has enough of your old favourites along with a whole saloon of new features gives any WWE fan a lot to mess around with. It would be nice to see Smackdown make a bigger leap then these filler touches, but we take what we can get. Bottom line, 'WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009' is worth the upgrade.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.24.08
- Road to Wrestlemania mode is entertaining
- Updated tag-team game mechanics
- New match types added to the mix
- Create-a-finisher adds depth to CAWs
- Convenient and easy to use roster editor
- Improved artificial intelligence with slider support
- Large Roster list that is fairly up-to-date
- Best next-generation wrestling game
- Same graphical glitches as before
- Lots of changes, but the game still feels the same
- Only 6 roads to to Wrestlemania
- Career mode is gets boring and feels redundant
- Commentary has improved, however it has a ways to go
Similar Games: TNA Impact (6.6) | WWE SVR 2008 (7.4) | WWE SVR 2010 (8.8)