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WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Genre: Sports
Publisher: THQ

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PS3/X360 Preview - 'WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009'

by Adam Pavlacka on April 9, 2008 @ 6:25 a.m. PDT

WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 will unleash a new tag team experience, allowing players to build momentum and attributes, eliminate opponents with high impact double teams and finishers, as well as get the “hot tag” for the win.

Genre: Sports
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yuke's
Release Date: Fall 2008

After a rough start on the Wii last year, THQ and Yuke's seem to have realized that just because someone owns a Wii doesn't mean he wants a simplified version of his favorite game. To that end, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 is shaping up to offer new features as well as making the Wii version more like the core PS3/Xbox 360 version of the game. There will still be some differences, but not nearly as many as before.

The biggest improvement to the Wii version is the inclusion of more than 30 match types in the game. By comparison, last year's version didn't even have 10 match types. The increased variety promises to offer more gameplay depth as well as a better feeling of being in the ring. A number of new weapons are appearing in the Wii version, including ladders, steel steps, tables, trash cans and more. Wii players will also be able to go online this year, just like players on the PS3 and Xbox 360 iterations.

In addition to improving the core game, the Wii version also boasts a number of exclusive features such as interactive entrances and victory scenes. This is done via freestyle interaction with the Nunchuk and Wiimote. For example, when performing an entrance, three different movement options appear on-screen, and you can choose any of the three. The movements you perform with the Wii controls are mimicked by the on-screen Superstar. Ham it up during your entrance, and get the crowed charged up.

Common to all versions of the game is the Road to Wrestlemania story mode. The narrative chronicles your attempts to win the coveted title but also introduces a first for the series — co-op play in story mode. According to the developer, co-op is a big push for the team this year, as they want to encourage this style of play. This is evident in the new Tag Team Explosion mode that's debuting on the PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.

Tag Team Explosion is a revamped tag team mode, where attributes and momentum are based on the team and not on the individual Superstars. The better you perform together, the quicker your momentum meter rises. There are new moves and finishers, including a number of new things to do outside the ring while waiting to tag in. You can pump up the crowd, double team an opponent, or even perform a forced tag.

Custom finishing moves are also debuting, with a full editor that allows you to create your very own finishing move. The editor allows you to string together up to 10 different animations and taunts, adjust the speed of the moves, and give it a custom name. A real-time preview cycles while in editing mode, and the new finisher can be applied to any character.

While THQ was keen to show off the new features in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009, the demo was strictly hands-off. We were only allowed to watch, not play, which was a bit disappointing because while the improvements looked good, the devil is always in the details. We'll post updated impressions as soon as we can get our hands on a playable build.


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