Smackdown vs. Raw 2009ESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Yuke’s Future Media Creators
Online Multiplayer: Yes
Growing up I was a huge wrestling fan and I always enjoyed playing wrestling games, especially those being published by THQ. As I got older wresting actually progressed into a Monday night ritual where my wife and I would have Monday Night Pizza Night while we watched Raw. THQ has recently released Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 for all consoles. After spending some time with the Wii version I sense that pizza nights are once again around the corner as I can now pick up my Wii Remote and Nunchuk to put on my own wrestling show for my wife and I to view.
The graphics for the Wii instalment of Smackdown vs. Raw shine on the WWE superstars who are easily recognizable and are detailed right down to such things as their facial features, their expressions, and even their veins protruding from their arms and legs. The entrance videos that play on the in-game screen for each of the wresters are high quality and are straight from your favorite WWE program.
While the focus on the wrestlers is great and allows you to really take on the persona of your favorite superstar, the rest of the graphics did not receive the level of detail that the superstars received. The fans that fill the arenas are blurry, generic and very repetitive in their shape, size, and actions. It was so repetitive that you would often find that quadruplets were in the audience, but they all got different seats. The arenas lack attention to detail as well. This was very evident as the box seats that circle the arena above are empty and the lit displays with advertisements are barely legible. It seems they just included the basic features to give you the feeling that you are actually in an arena.
The developers did a spectacular job in bringing together a great audio experience. Voice actors are plentiful and most are WWE superstars such as William Regal, Umaga, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, Batista, The Undertaker, Ric Flair and Randy Orton to name a few. This is just a small sampling of the voice actors included from the WWE rosters which include Raw, Smackdown, and ECW. The matches are commentated by Jim Ross, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Joey Styles, Tazz, Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman, who are all veteran members of the WWE commentator team.
Smackdown vs. Raw features the entrance theme songs of the various wrestlers in the game and have been composed by the WWE’s music director Jim Johnston. Also in the mix is a great soundtrack with a variety of artists. Here is quick list of some of the songs included:
• "Addicted" by P.O.D.
• "Save Me" by Burn Halo
• "Taking You Down" by Egypt Central
• "You Make Me Sick" by Egypt Central
• "Dead Man Walking" by Bloodsimple
• "SWC" by Murs
• "Lay Your Money Down" by The Exies
• "Better Than Mine" by Six
• "Get Up" by Steriogram
• "Perfect Insanity" by Disturbed
As always, the WWE franchise doesn’t disappoint with its high octane sound effects. The all too familiar sound of a metal chair slamming into your opponents back, your fist driving into their nose, or the bone crunching snap(s) when you perform a finishing move are all loud, proud, and present in this game. Everything that you would normally hear in a WWE match comes to fruition in the console matches.
The Wii Remote & Nunchuk combination utilized to control your wrestler is hours of fun and actually gets you off the couch as you lay the smack down on your opponents. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk are used together to perform strikes, grapples, irish whips, pins, finishing moves as well as a few other maneuvers. I have to say that the control really got me excited about the game. Using the Wii Remote you punch or kick an opponent by simply flicking it. To perform a quick grappling move you only need to press the A button and flick the Wii Remote. The majority of the attacking moves are done by flicking the Wii Remote with a combination of button presses. Moves are also dependent on the position your opponent is in as well. When you enter a strong grapple move, you are presented with a few options (once again depending on the position your opponent is in) that determine the move you use. The options can be as simple as moving your Wii Remote up and down, moving the Wii Remote in a circular motion, or even just slightly tilting the Wii Remote to the left or to the right. Your character choice will also affect what move you will perform as well, as each wrestler comes equipped with a different style and move set of their own.
In Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 you can experience the Road to WrestleMania in exclusive single-player storylines where you take on the role of such wrestlers as Triple H, CM Punk, Undertaker, John Cena or Chris Jericho. Each wrestler has their own specific storyline that you progress through. Being a fan of John Cena I chose to progress through his storyline and I was not disappointed. The story was well written and will delight fans of the One Man Army. During the Road to WrestleMania you will be given objectives to meet, and if you are successful you will unlock new characters to use in the game. If you want to switch up from your solo Road to WrestleMania story you can also play as Rey Mysterio and Batista in a tag team storyline either by yourself or with a friend playing in local co-op.
If none of the above wrestlers are your favorite you can choose any wrestler from the active rosters and battle in Exhibition, Career Mode, and Tournament Mode. Exhibition is the best mode to practice and the large variety of match types you can play including One on One, Two on Two, Triple Threat, Fatal-4-Way, 6-Man, Handicap, and Royal Rumbles. Each match type has rules that can be applied from Hell in a Cell, Ladder, Tables, Steel Cage, ECW Extreme Rules, TLC, and Battle Royals to name a few.
In career mode you choose your favorite superstar and work your way up the ladder to achieve titles and to stamp out your claim to fame as a top performer in the WWE. In this mode you manage your career by the choices you make including booking your own matches, choosing the time you challenge for a coveted championship, or even switch to a different WWE brand. As you progress through your career you are scored based on such things as match results, excitement (created for the fans), and how technical your wrestling was. These points go towards raising your stats such as durability, strength, speed, submission, technical, stamina, charisma and hardcore. These stats are increased automatically based on your actions in the match. For example, if it is a long match you will gain stamina, or if you use a lot of power moves your strength will go up. Career mode is a lot of fun and if you work hard you will build your wrestler into a WWE Hall of Famer in no time at all.
Tournament mode is a multiplayer only mode where you set up a tournament with some pre-set configurations like King of the Ring, Beat the Clock: Sprint, Smackdown vs. Raw or the Road to WrestleMania. There is also an option to set up a custom tournament where you decide the rules, and match types of the tournament.
I have always enjoyed creating my own wrestler and rising up the ranks as a new superstar. Smackdown vs. Raw includes a Create a WWE Superstar option that allows you to create your own Superstar. Customize your Superstar with options like size, hair, facial features, and clothing. You also have the ability to add tattoos, piercings, scars, body hair and face paint and you can then select your outfit from a very large wardrobe. You can choose to have an outfit for when you are about to enter the ring, and a separate outfit for when you are actually in the ring competing against other Superstars. Along with all these options you can also fully customize your wrestler’s move-set. Select your favorite moves for your wrestler right down to the standard actions, tag team moves, and special finishing moves. Mimic your favourite wrestler, or combine three or four of them together to create a hybrid superstar that includes the best of your favorites.
Another great custom feature is the ability to create or modify your own Interactive Entrance and Interactive Victory scenes. At the beginning of each match you control your Superstars in an Interactive Entrance which is initiated by the motions you make with your Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The motions you make are displayed on the screen and offer a quick reference to what to do instead of moving the controllers at random. The features you can change in your entrance include your wrestlers’ motions, the movie clip played on the screen, and the music that is played as you make your way to the ring.
The Interactive Victory scene is where you choose to either taunt your opponent or perform a grapple to pour more salt into the wounds of your defeated rival. These moves are selected when you create a new wrestler, or you edit one of the wrestlers from the WWE rosters.
For the first time on the Nintendo Wii WWE Smackdown vs. Raw has online play via Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection. Compete against your friends or compete in random matches either one on one or against up to three other Superstars in over 30 online match types. At the time of writing this review I unfortunately couldn’t get my Wi-Fi connection to work and I didn’t get to experience the exciting new feature, but I welcome this addition to Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 for the Wii as it was missed in the previous instalment.
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