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December 1, 2004
WWE Smackdown Vs Raw - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
23/11/2004THQYukes1-6, 2 M15+Easy
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Nice looking graphics.
Wrestling... Over these past three years it has become nothing but mere story plot repetitions, and mediocrity-ridden personalities. From a highly respect multi-billion dollar organisation, into nothing but a constantly disappointing form of sports and entertainment, it has certainly begun heading on a downward spiral. But luckily, this one game series that has held it's consistancy over the past half a decade continues to do so, once again presenting another hit, this time entitled WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW.

To some Smackdown Vs Raw may seem like a simple rehash of last year's wrestling revolution, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, but really it offers much more than you may realise. This year's edition includes a first-ever, in wrestling games, being the online mode. It also has a respectable and an updated roster, including another impressive list of wrestling legends including Andre the Giant, and Bret 'the Hitman' Hart. And returning from the smash-hit, WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, is the Create-A-PPV and Create-A-Belt modes, where you're able to relive classic pay-per-view memories, and you can create past championships which have since been retired, these are two valuable additions to this game, for sure.

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Ballet in tights.
The Season Mode, which is obviously equivilant to any other game's 'story mode', is a huge factor in this game. But unfortunately, it doesn't do as much for the game as it probably should. With some very poor storylines (much like the real-life counterpart, kind of funny), and generally average character paths, it turned out to be quite repetitive and boring. One feature which had huge potential, but was executed with seemingly no effort at all, was the superstar voice-overs. This had been missing from the series for three years, and unfortunately, just when it was meant to be the huge feature, and send the series on it's way to immortality, it is executed very poorly. It's extremely disappointing, I mean, only a slim percentage of rostered superstars even have full voice-overs in the game, and even most only have a few phrases, which is kind of sad, really.

One of the key additions to this game is the 2-player online gameplay. While we didn't get a lot of time to play online it certainly is a feature which is most welcome to the series and bumps up the score a couple of notches in both gameplay and longevity. Perhaps next time Yukes and THQ will include 6-players online!

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Is that Jet Li? Ermm.. no.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's much like past SmackDown! games, except some vague updates have been made. It still includes all the bone-shattering impact slams from the past five games, hell, even some of the original move animations from the first game are included, as slack as that sounds, it's true. But what more would you expect from a company who is fond of repeating old material? But that's easily overlooked. This time around, the bouts begin with a variety of momentum building situations, including staredowns, shoving contests, things of that sort. In these situations, it is vital that you manage to press the suggested button quickly to gain the upperhand, and win the confrontation. These are probably very unnecessary, but they do make things interesting sometimes, but they do nothing to shape the contest at all, they're very easy to 'comeback' from.

Other inclusions to the gameplay include more situations, such as 'turnbuckle bouts', where you and your opponent take turns of trying to gain the striking advantage, this is where a small wheel gauge appears on-screen, and you're required to stop the marker within a small space to perform a successful punch, these can be challenging and are often fluked to win, but really, this is once again really unneeded, but adds just that little bit that people can enjoy. An almost identical feature is used in the divas' exclusive contests, the Bra and Panties matches, where a spanking move is replaced with the turnbuckle face-off.

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One of the menu screens....
And luckily, a lot of flaws from WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain have been removed from this year's game, and let's face it, that's always a good thing. It's safe to say that this game is just about error free, from my observations. So, looks like a tick for Yuke's, when it comes to flaws and errors inside the game.

Sound was never a big factor when it comes to sports games, but of course, this isn't entirely sport. And sound, in this case, is a huge factor in the SmackDown! series. But sadly, as in past games, not all of the entrance themes were managed to be licensed, there are those few that are mere generic remakes or 'sound-a-likes' of the real themes, which is very disappointing. But luckily, that's only the case for some of the lower classed superstars who would be rarely used in the game, anyway. As far as the commentary goes, it's really just the same as the other games in the series, it doesn't flow, and it is repetitive.

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Got him pinned down.
The voice overs, as mentioned before, were also very poorly executed, and that does hurt the score badly, just because it could have been done so much better. The only character who seemed to have put some emotion into their voice over, was probably Vince McMahon, and he only appears every now and then, and he sounded quite professional. The next best would probably be Kurt Angle, who does the voicing for all of his lines, so those two deserve some credit. But generally, the sound in this game was let down quite badly due to the attempted voice-overs.

When it comes to the WWE SmackDown! series, this is one of the best, but unfortunately just falls short in some of the games most important aspects, and is let down badly by a few of the attempted features. With a poor season mode, and a disasterous voice-over engine. It's still a great game, there's no doubt about that, but really, it's not much different from previous games, but in some strange way, it is?

It doesn't make sense, but hey, what does these days. I'd recommend this, if you're a die-hard fan of the series, if not, rent and test it out for yourself.

Review By: Brodie Gibbons

GRAPHICSA great improvement from HCTP. Muscles can actually be seen!
SOUNDOfficial licensed tracks in the menu. Let down by poor voice-overs.
GAMEPLAYSimilar to previous games, some new features to make it refreshing.
VALUEBoth the create modes and online mode makes it endlessly fun.
OVERALLIt can be seen two ways, as a simple rehash which offers nothing to anyone, except for die-hard fans. Or it can be seen as a refreshingly similiar game that fans of the series can look at and have memories of the entire series, because it contains elements from them all

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