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WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Sports

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PS2 Review - 'WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW'

by Hank on Nov. 30, 2004 @ 3:42 a.m. PST

Genre: Sport
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yuke's
Release Date: November 2, 2004

Buy 'WWE SMACKDOWN! VS. RAW': PlayStation 2

Another year, another SmackDown, but this year, something new is happening with the SmackDown series, as it is now WWE Smackdown vs. RAW. Are you ready to ruuuuumble?

The first task at hand is to choose which show you like better, SmackDown or RAW, after which you can jump into the game, which has the following modes of play available: Exhibition, Season, Pay Per View (PPV), Online, and Shopzone. Within each of these modes exist quite a few options for single player, tag team, six-man tag team, and handicapped matches, to name just a few.

PPV, Online, and Shopzone's challenge mode are the three new modes in this year's WWE. PPV is where you can create your own matches, customizing what type of matches are at the event, how many, and if you are fighting for a championship belt (which you must also create). To me, this is where most of the multiplayer battles (up to six players) will take place, but if you can't find a friend to play against or you're just plain bored, you can always jump into Shopzone challenge. This is the mission mode, similar to missions seen in other fighter games, where you must follow a set guideline in order to beat the challenge, like not using any finishing moves, for example.

The WWE series has finally implemented an online mode, allowing you to “play coast to coast,” but sadly enough it seems like the developers did not work out this system well enough because there are only a couple of options under online play: single player and bra and panties. I personally love playing Royal Rumble and wouldn't have minded having an online Royal Rumble match versus five other players.

Aside from these new modes, the game has also implemented a few new systems. The first system would be the clean/dirty, where if you fight clean or dirty you will get access to a special ability. To activate this meter once filled, you hit the right analog stick; a full clean meter will get you temporary invincibility, while a full dirty meter will activate a set of dirty moves such as kicking the opponent in the crotch. The second new system is the new chop/slap meter, where if you throw an opponent into the corner, you can activate a chop battle, which requires you to time how much power and accuracy your chop will contain.

Another new addition would be the fact that you can now hold a player for up to five seconds, even after a rope break before getting disqualified. The developers also added an on-screen effect where if you are in a submission hold, the screen will fade due to the pain, although it occurs even if you aren't the one in the hold. There is also a new submission meter, which, depending on when you hit the button, determines whether or not the opponent can escape. There are also staring or hitting contests before the match, and you now have the ability to control your manager, telling him to either distract your opponent or the referee.

You can also complain to the ref after a long two-count, which builds up the dirty meter, and lastly, the strangest change is the Royal Rumble ring-out system. Each player now has two bars, his health and a throw-out bar; in the previous versions, you could throw a person to the rope and then just clothesline him out of the ring. In this one, you will actually need to try and push him out, usually requiring at least two people to successfully pull it off, making the rounds a lot longer and a little unrealistic, in my opinion. I believe the reason for this is so the character you choose to battle in the first round has a fighting chance of still winning, especially since you regain ring-out bar for each character you throw out.

You will get to experience all of these new systems first hand if you decide to play season mode, where you go through a season with one character. It plays identical to the last installment, but the voiceovers add a slightly more realistic feeling to the game, almost as if you were watching television. You can also backstab someone (this does affect them in battle), win championship belts, and much more; being dirty never felt so good. Playing dirty or clean is your choice, but I just like to play the evil man, although there are always downsides. When you backstab too many people, you make plenty of enemies, and if you don't want that, you should try to keep it clean, especially when you have to battle a three-vs.-one match, which are never fair.

For each battle won, you will earn WWE cash, which can be used to make a PPV championship belt or unlock approximately 32 bonus items, like new lingerie for the divas, arenas, move sets, and characters (Andre the Giant, Animal, Bret Hart, Brutus the Beefcake, Hawk, Masked Kane, Mankind, The Rock, Legend Undertaker, etc.).

Both of my favorite characters, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin are unplayable at the beginning. To make up for this, WWE has included a whole slew of characters that I've never even heard of, which I'm guessing are mostly from RAW. With so many characters, each with his own move set, there is a good amount of variety to the game. While move sets differ from character to character, the method of execution is always identical.

The controls for the game are the same as the previous installment: triangle to run, get out of the ring and get in, circle to initiate grapple with any directional button, X to strike the enemy, and square to pick up items, climb ladders or leave the ring using the ropes. The remaining buttons provide for: countering striking attacks, countering grapples, countering special moves, using your finisher, stealing the opponent's finisher, executing clean or dirty meter/taunt, and changing focus.

If you have been an adamant gamer of this series, you are probably acquainted with the controls, noticing that the only changes made is the addition of the dirty/clean move and the fact that the left analog stick is now rendered useless. I personally loved using the analog stick to control the characters instead of the digital pad, so I hope this is re-implemented in the next installment.

Other changes you will notice to the series are the graphics, which are smoking hot. The last WWE had a nice improvement from its predecessor, but this one is simply amazing. The detail of the characters has gotten a lot more realistic and actually looks quite nice, making me enjoy watching the computer duke it out. Even though the graphics took a huge step forward, the menu screen shows one of the many Divas dancing, which is actually scarier than it sounds. Yuke's has truly taken the time to improve the layout of the arena, including more in-depth big screens and added effects, such as explosions, making it seem like you are really watching the show.

Although the graphics make it seem closer to the show, one aspect that strays from it is the fact that the theme songs for certain players are still not correct. The imitations aren't bad, but when you see a character entering the arena, you want to hear their exact theme song and voice. Adding in voiceovers was a move I had anticipated, but for some reason, the voices don't seem to be the ones with which I'm acquainted. This is especially noticeable during the cut scenes, where you will also notice that the characters' mouth movements are completely out of synch. The only characters for whom this was not a problem were the commentators, Michael and Tazz or JR and King. What makes up for these horrid voiceovers is the fact they included a really nice soundtrack; while it might consist of older songs, it really gets the job done.

Overall, the game is quite similar to last and contains quite a few new features here and there, but to me, I feel that the game does not surpass the predecessor, Here Comes the Pain. The biggest plus is the fact that it's a whole lot easier to pin, escape, counter, and it's a huge step up in graphics department, although the game's voiceovers and the movement residing solely on the digital pad ruins this for me. I would suggest a rental then a purchase, even if you are a rabid WWE fan. It may be the best series available, but if you already own Here Comes the Pain, you may want to skip out and wait for the next, hoping they will implement better additions and a better online system. For those who have been looking for a way to battle for a championship title against a friend, the PPV mode is a great addition, and perhaps this game is for you.

Score: 8.5/10


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