WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009 Review
*Announcer’s Voice* “Entering the ring, all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland. Weighing an impressive 300lbs. The current WWE Heavyweight, World, Tag-team and almost every other belt available champion. Mrrrrr DDDDDDVVVVVXXXXX UK!!!!”
Ok, so maybe that wasn’t the most creative name ever thought off, but hey, it’s what I do inside the ring that counts. What am I talking about? Smackdown vs Raw 2009 obviously.
If you have played SvR 08 then straight away you enter familiar territory. THQ have really put a lot of effort into jazzing up the menu screens to replicate the menus from SvR 08 . You will be familiar with many of the game modes available to you including Exhibition (surprisingly the best mode) and Career mode, as well as the new mode ‘Road to Wrestlemania’.
THQ could have done so much more with the Road to Wrestlemania game mode. In short, the game mode is too short, enabling you to easily complete it in one sitting. You choose a path of 7 pre-determined wrestlers (including 1 tag-team path) on their ‘Road to Wrestlemania’. Unfortunately it’s these wrestlers or no wrestlers, but it’s still good fun. There are 6 single player routes including the likes of John Cena (my favourite), Triple H and Chris Jericho, each having their own path and interesting storylines. During the single player route you get the chance to team up with an offline friend, to play as Batista and Rey Masterio in the tag-team route. Sadly this route is a bit hit or miss. I personally didn’t like this route as it wasn’t exciting enough, and the storyline itself was pretty basic. I would go as far to say that it is boring, dull and has no surprises in it whatsoever. The characters Batista and Rey don’t even fall out, especially when they end up meeting each other for the championship at Wrestlemania. There’s no back stabbing or surprises from either of them. This mode is a good idea to have, but I just feel they could have done so much more with it.
Asides from the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ mode you are left with Career mode and Exhibition mode. In Career mode you can choose any wrestler you desire and try to win…wait for it… almost every title there is available. This is highly unrealistic, but it’s still borderline enjoyable trying to attain such belts. There are no cut scenes in career mode as you hop from match to match against the other AI wrestlers, who can only be described as having as much use as a wet cardboard box. Even on the hardest difficulty they just stand there and take everything you throw at them.
The only other excuse I can think of for entering the empty career mode would be to boost your created characters stats. If you want to create a good wrestler you are going to have to play as him, or her (for all you WWE divas out there) a lot. Stats start at 35 /100 and winning matches will help boost your stats, so you can take your player ( Mr DVX uk in my case) into the online and exhibition modes to kick some candy ass against some friends.
So you have created your custom character using the almost identical creation tools found in 08? Check. And you’ve built up their stats in the Career mode? Check. Ok, so you are now ready to take your skills online? Well, that is if you can. Online for me has been hot and cold. At times I could lay the smackdown on others by putting them through tables etc, but then during other games it just lags and becomes unplayable. It might just be my connection though. The options in multiplayer are similar to that found in single player, apart from the fact you still can’t play Royal Rumbles online. It does allow for voice support though.
So now we come to the best thing about the game – the Exhibition mode. You can play your bog standard matches like 2-on-1, Tag-team and Hell in a Cell. This mode in the game really comes alive when you have your friends around. Unlike the non-existent AI your friends can kick, punch and attempt to beat you to a pulp. Gamemodes like TLC and the all new Inferno Match just adds to the excitement. I often found myself shouting at a mate to come over and help me as I was about to be smacked across the head with my very own tag-team belt. Exhibitions are great as you get to choose everything. The environment, wrestlers, rules etc. For me this is just better than playing boring matches against the pointless AI in Career Mode.
Around about now you may be wondering why I haven’t talked much about the gameplay? That’s because if you have played SvR 08 then nothing has changed. If you haven’t, then it’s really easy to get to grips with. Just wiggle the right analogue stick around to perform various different moves and that’s all there is to it. This helps build up your finisher bar which when full allows you to inflict some pain on your opponent.
The visuals are great but could again be improved. The wrestler’s visuals are superb and any wrestling fan would be able to instantly recognise a specific wrestler, but you can’t help feel like other aspects of the game have been neglected, especially when the wrestlers are interacting with each other in cut scenes and in the ring.
The audio in SvR 09 are good too. Performing moves such as John Cena’s FU provides thuds onto the ring floor, and all this entertainment is further strengthened by the return of the commentators. When you are fighting on the RAW brand of the WWE, you’ll hear commentary from Jim Ross and Larry “The King” Lawler, where as when you’re in the Smackdown arena, Michael Cole and his assistant are there to provide you with commentary. Playing the game enough will drive the commentators insane and they will start to repeat their words, but this is barely noticeable.
Overall I came away from the SvR 09 experience wanting more. The game is great fun when playing Exhibition mode with some friends, and the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ mode is a great idea. I feel the developers could have made an excellent wrestling game rather than SvR 08 with a few new additions. Any wrestling fan would love to play SvR 09 though, just don’t expect anything too exciting in the single player aspects of the game. Worth a rent, or a cheap purchase.