Video Game Review: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009
Editor's Note: Joel Potter is a 28 year-old writer who has been featured at IGN.com and other websites. He sent along the following review of the WWE "Smackdown vs. Raw 2009" video game for the PS2.
By now, many of you have probably played the "Smackdown vs. Raw 2009" video game series for one of the many video game systems it is available on. This review is for those of us who may not own a PS3, XBox 360, Wii, etc. All I own is an old school PS2 and I'm proud of it! So let's get into it!
There will come a day when THQ stops making this series for Sony's older system, so we proud PS2 owners need to enjoy this while we can. 2K Sports recently came out with a game called MLB Front Office Manager. That is a simulator baseball game and you can only get it on the PS3, X-Box 360, or the PC (and don't buy the PC version ... trust me). If we can't even get a baseball simulation on PS2, I think that spells doomsday for this system sooner rather than later.
So what is good about the game? First, I think THQ learned from its mistake last year. I was interested in the 24/7 mode for a while, but it eventually became annoying. I yearned for older versions of the game when it was more about the action with a few fun twists. I really enjoy the Career Mode and Road to WrestleMania this year.
The Career Mode is just plain fun. You pick a wrestler (existing or created) and go into a bracket to challenge for a title. You have five other opponents (which include the current champ) and you need to score points in different categories to get a shot at the title. In many ways, this reminds me of the old WWE No Mercy game that was released for the N64. The Career Mode is the best way for everyone to use their created wrestler(s) and have a good time trying to get a title shot.
Of course, the Create a Superstar feature is here is excellent as ever! From creating a wrestler to an entrance to their move set to their finisher, you have it all. You do need patience here! I've always compared creating a superstar to working on a masterpiece painting. Put the time and effort into this feature of the game and you will enjoy how much you can do with it. The Smackdown vs. Raw series has always had the most advanced character creation feature of any wrestling video game. Kudos to THQ for giving us so much to work with!
The "Road to WrestleMania" feature is interesting.. You have six different storylines to play through here as various characters (Triple H, Chris Jericho, etc.). Like years past, you have matches and drama happen on your way to the big show. I like the fact that there are six different storylines to play through, but I feel handicapped that you are forced to use an assigned wrestler per storyline. A good idea would have been to have six storyline settings available in this feature and the game allowing players to use any wrestler (existing or created) to play through them.
A nice benefit with the "Road to WrestleMania" is that the superstars voiced their lines, but I guess that isn't as important to me as it might be to others. I don't mind hearing generic voices if it means I have the chance to take my created wrestlers through six different storyline settings on their way to WrestleMania. So for this, I see the glass half full by us having six storylines to play through, but the glass is also half empty because you're limited in which wrestlers you can choose to play as per storyline.
Other notes: The AI is better than in past games. The controls appear to be easier this year than it was last year. The GM mode has been dropped (I never fully got into the GM thing anyway). This game focuses more what has made Smackdown vs. Raw so successful with the Create a Superstar, Road to Wrestlemania, Career Mode, etc. Is it perfect? Not at all. I've heard that the PS2 game is a watered down version of the PS3 game.
All in all, remember that this is the PS2 and there is better technology available now. As I said at the beginning of this article, we're lucky that THQ even made a version of this game for PS2. Is it worth purchasing? I'd say yes for all of us that own PS2 and don't want to upgrade. Overall, I gave this game a B+. THQ learned from last year and made enough improvements in my mind that this year's version of Smackdown vs. Raw is a much better product - even on the ancient PS2.
Notes: Thanks to Jamie Jensen of THQ for copies of the PS2 and PS3 Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 games to review. Joel Potter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and comments.
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