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February 1, 2006
WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2006 - PSP Review
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Slam him!
Before we swing into this review I must point out that I did a dodgy. I copied much of our PS2 review which we did back in December. Why? Because these games are essentially identical, with almost no compromises made for the PSP game, and indeed several additional features. This is a brilliant game, highly recommended so if you've been waiting to see if it's as good - it is. Anyway onto the review.

I hate wrestling. When I was in my pre-teen years, and during an era when the WWF (as it was known then) was aired on Free to Air TV I used to love watching characters like King Kong Bundy, The Iron Sheik and of course Hulk Hogan. Then I realised that the so called sport was more staged then my primary school play! So with my despising of the sport you would think that I'm going to rip into any wrestling game and tear it to shreds. Not the case. You see firstly I have to be impartial to the sport, but it can also make a damn fine game. Previous games from THQ, none of which I've actually reviewed myself, have been good, but not great. WWE Smackdown! Vs Raw 2006 marks a big change for the series, with dramatically improved visuals, more multiplayer options and a host of other improvements.

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Classic Kurt Angle.
In terms of single player gameplay most of you will head for the Career mode, which this year offers two full years of storyline to keep you occupied for even longer then previous game. The game includes over 100 different match types including a couple of new ones such as a Casket Match made famous by The Undertaker and the Backstage Brawl. Other new matches include Fulfill your Fantasy which replaces "Bra and Panties" but allows you to chose your outfit for female wrestlers (which includes nurse, schoolgirl, or French maid), and then perform "fantasy" moves such as pillow fights or a bit of a spanking.

The wrestling roster is a little longer this year, but there really haven't been too many dramatic changes that we noticed due to last years title including pretty much all the superstars. The game contains superstars such as Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock, Batista, Kurt Angle, Edge, JBL (isn't that a speaker brand!?), Carlito Caribbean Cool and several versions of our favourite, Hulk Hogan.

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The ladies get in the ring.
In terms of the fighting the big addition to WWE Smackdown! Vs Raw 2006 is a momentum system. As in real fights as a player gains an upper hand he will become more and more confident in pulling off the big moves. The game will have a similar system with your momentum meter filling or emptying according to your performance in the ring. Pull off some big moves, reversals or even play it up to the crowd and your meter will start filling up. In order to perform a finishing move you will need a full momentum meter. Along a similar line the stamina system makes you ensure your wrestler doesn't use up too much energy at the start of the match or he'll struggle to gain the upper hand later on so pacing your wrestler is the key to success. Even spending too much time running around the ring after getting in a couple of cheap shots will tire your fighter.

One of the best aspects of this series has always been the ability to create a variety of things. This year gamers can now Create a Superstar, Create a Move-set, Create a Stable or Create a Championship as was the case in last years titles and these all work in much the same way as previously. New to the 2006 title is the Create an Entrance which, as the name suggests allows you to create a fighters entrance, often with amusing results. If you just want to take it easy you can also set up some PPV (Pay Per View) styled matches so you can sit back and watch some matches.

One area which was always going to be different between the PS2 and PSP versions was multi-player. Gone is the online gameplay and in its place is a 4-player ad hoc mode. The game runs surprisingly smooth in this mode and best of all virtually every game mode is playable in multi-player. Also impressive is the ability to transfer characters between the PS2 and PSP games. Speaking of other bonuses the PSP version includes 3 mini-games and and unlockable character - Jake Roberts.

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Fighter intros are great!
So what about problems with the title? We have to say that the ring entrances, while looking spectacular the first time or two, become very tiresome and soon enough you'll be looking to skip them to get into the action. We were a little disappointed with the lack of major changes. Yes, the career mode now spans 2 years but in comparison to EA's sports titles which span 10 or more years (although don't include a detailed storyline like WWE) it leaves you wanting more. The game really could have done with a larger roster of new wrestlers as well as a wider selection of new moves. I guess there's only so much you can do when based on a real sport (or show) so THQ can be let off here a little bit. We were also a bit disappointed with the loading which, while not long, seemed to occur too often.

Graphically WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2006 is pretty sharp - very sharp in fact. There are some slight downgrades from the PS2 game, but they are so small many of you would have a hard time spotting them without direct comparison. Player models, while improved over previous PS2 games, aren't quite up to the standards set by WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2006 on PS2 with slightly lower polygon counts, murkier textures and some small pauses during the occasional match. Animations are still quite impressive with more motion capturing in this years game. In fact, the developers scrapped over half the moves and re-captured them for the 2006 game. The crowds are probably among the best we've seen in a current generation video game with a fair amount of life to them. As with the PS2 game where the game falls down slightly is the clipping and collision detection. It's not uncommon to see players body parts pass through anotherís or wrestlers being grabbed with the opponents hands still a distance away - then again, you see that in real life matches too I guess!

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Another fighter intro...
Sound in the title can be described with one word - atmospheric. The crowds are electric, and the fighter entrances are quite spectacular. The music is a good blend of rock styled tracks which adds even more to the game. If there is one area which really drags this game down it's the commentary which is at times repetitive and at other times plain boring. I've been told that the commentary is just like the TV presentation which, if that's the case, it's no wonder fewer and fewer people watch the show. Fortunately the voicework from the actual wrestlers for use in cut scenes (mainly in the career mode) is very impressive and certainly adds plenty to the game. Sadly there is no option for surround sound which is disappointing if only to be surrounded by the cheers of the crowd during the matches.

WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2006 is every single bit as impressive on the PSP as it is on the PS2. In fact with the bonus content, Wifi play and ability to play the game while on the game this is probably the better option. A stunning game that proves the PSP can more then match its big brother.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSA little less sharp then the PS2 game but overall a terrific port.
SOUNDCommentary is quite poor but plenty of music and wrestler voices.
GAMEPLAYOne less analogue stick and two buttons doesn't hinder the gameplay.
VALUECheaper then the PS2 game, but it offers just as much content.
OVERALLWWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2006 is a brilliant game on PSP. There's plenty to do and unlock and PSP owners would do very well to pick up this superb title.

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