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January 4, 2009
WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Fighters look great in PS3 Smackdown Vs Raw 09.
As most of the regular readers of would be aware I really don't like wrestling. It's too fake and put on - give me Boxing, UFC or Sumo Wrestling anyway. Well, OK, the latter is a bit of stretch. Having said that, and again as I've said in the past, wrestling can make for an entertaining video game. Actually, it seems perfectly suited to it. So here we are with another annual update to THQ's WWE Smackdown Vs Raw franchise and with the PS3 having been out for a couple of years now expectations for this game to make an impact are pretty high. While not perfect, THQ and developers Yukes have succeeded in crafting something pretty entertaining. Onto the details then...

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A fight in the back stage area.
The main game mode in this title is the Road to Wrestlemania which replaces the 24/7 story mode which featured in previous titles. In this mode gamers can choose from five wrestlers to follow their story; Triple H, CM Punk, The Undertaker, John Cena, Chris Jericho and a co-op storyline featuring co-op storyline featuring Rey Mysterio and Batista. It must be said that while I don't follow the TV series I could get into these stories. A little "camp" but entertaining nonetheless. In terms of actual gameplay anyone who has played games from the last couple of iterations in the series should slip right back into this game. Each of these stories covers approximately 2 months leading up to a WWE event with each storyline taking around 5-7 hours to complete. That's 30 hours gameplay right there!

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Watch your neck in this deadly WWE move.
Some of the new features in this game include a co-op storyline which is quite a blast to play - especially if someone playing the game is a WWE fan and can explain some of the story. Also new to WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 is the tag team match which allows you to build momentum and then destroy the opposition with double teams and tag team finishers.

WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 boasts a wrestling roster of 66 characters in title including Batista, Candice, John Cena, Randy Orton, and Shawn Michaels from the Raw side, Edge, Triple H and The Undertaker from the Smackdown roster, and Big Daddy V, Chavo Guerrero, Finlay and The Miz from the ECW side.

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The Create-a-Finisher mode.
One of the most exciting new aspects of this game is the Create-A-Finisher mode which allows you to construct your own set of moves for use in the game with your created fighter. Now we don't know many of the names of the moves, so we don't know if stringing these together is physically possible but what we can confirm is that when you select the moves and string them together to create the finishing move, it generally looks spectacular.

It must be pointed out that one of the biggest issues from last years title (while we never reviewed it we played it a bit) was the loading times and we are pleased to report that Yukes has cut down the loading time significantly for this years title.

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Check out the sweat on the wrestlers bodies.
When you're done with the single player game, which could be a little while if you play through each of the Road to Wrestlemania stories, you can then have a look at the multi-player modes. Originally and for some reason we expected the game to support 6-players in multi-player, but it seems that number - on the PS3 at least - has been cut back to 4-players. But don't despair as this game really is quite brilliantly set up for multi-player matches, online or offline. Now, if a player is waiting outside the ring they have plenty to do too rather then just stand around. Distract the referee, attack the opposition from outside the ring. If you're tagged out of a fight you can still have plenty of fun.

As we mentioned in our preview the developers have also promised downloadable content for the game however we don't believe this will be made available until sometime in early 2009.

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Smashing into the doors.
While this is certainly one of the best WWE Smackdown Vs Raw titles ever released it isn't without some disappointments. First of all the game does have some issues with the cameras which, while never terrible, occasionally struggles to follow the action as well as expected. Perhaps more disappointing is the clipping issues which occur with objects and bodies passing through each other on occasion. Even the smallest of glances on an opponents body can have the effect of a massive whack to the gut.

Finally Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 does not include trophy support which, while not mandatory at the time this game hit shelves, is included in so many other major releases this Christmas that it is disappointing to not be included. Perhaps we will see a patch somewhere down the line, but nothing has been confirmed as yet.

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Getting close to tagging him..
In terms of visuals Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 has its highs and lows. Certainly the wrestlers look impressive enough - with each being an accurate model of their real-life counterparts - right down to the tattoos on their skin. The animations really are impressive, and this covers those in the ring during gameplay or during the player entrances and the cut-scenes. The wrestling rings and stadiums look good enough as well. I guess they're modeled on real stadiums, but not following the TV show I can't confirm this. Unfortunately transitions between the animations and moves can be a little jarring at times, only slightly mind you, but still present.

Sadly where this game still falls into the big pile of steaming turd in terms of graphics is when you look at the crowds. The front few rows look decent enough with a few different spectator models and signs, but the further back you go the worse it looks, and it gets pretty bad with a bland, lifeless crowd. This is an issue that comes up year after year in the WWE titles, and yet Yukes fail to do anything about it. Enough is enough - fix it. Now, having said that, this doesn't affect the gameplay.

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Prepare for some major pain!
Sonically this game goes a little beyond what we expected. Sure, the crowds cheer and roar as expected (actually, they are a bit lifeless), and there is plenty of music to get the blood pumping and you can even import your own from the Hard Drive for the player intros (however unlike the XBox 360 version this music can't be used during matches - what gives?). Where this game manages to excel - somewhat surprisingly really - is with the dialogue from the wrestlers. Not only does each wrestler sound interesting and excited but the actual dialogue scripting, for the most part, is pretty interesting and engaging. On the flip side the announcers are still a little dull and repetitive.

WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 doesn't bring anything radically different to the table but it is the most polished and complete titles in the series for quite a few years, and certainly better then last years effort on PS3. If you're a fan of the sport then this is a game you will seriously want to consider adding to your collection. If you're not a fan this is unlikely to sway you, but you may still have some fun in multi-player. Solid.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSCharacters and animation are solid, crowds are pretty weak and small clipping issues.
SOUNDThe dialogue from the wrestlers impresses, crowd effects and announcer calls could be better.
GAMEPLAYThe wrestling is entertaining, especially in the multi-player modes.
VALUEIf you love WWE then you'll play through the six stories. Multi-player adds in value too.
OVERALLWWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 is a solid title in the series. It's still not perfect - none of the games have been - but wrestling fans will enjoy this despite some flaws.

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