WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2009

After giving the game a workout for a whole month, we’re happy to say that SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 is a serious improvement over its predecessor and will no doubt be remembered as one of the series’ greats

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WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2009
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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  February 9, 2009

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Key Specs

Number of players: 1-4
Online play: N
Price: $73

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WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 was an entertaining game though not without its share of faults. These flaws were, unfortunately, enough to hold back the game as a whole. Because of this, the team was somewhat nervous (fearing the worst) when the 2009 version was dropped off, as everyone in the WINDOWS team has fond memories of older games from this series. Thankfully, after giving the game a workout for a whole month, we're happy to say that SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 is a serious improvement over its predecessor and will no doubt be remembered as one of the series' greats.

The differences between the 2008 and 2009 games are easy-to-see right from the off. For starters, developer Yuke's has ditched the ‘24/7' game mode and replaced it with a fully fledged ‘Career mode' and also throws in a new ‘Road to Wrestlemania' mode.

Both are huge improvements over the older game mode. With the career mode you start off by either choosing an existing wrestler or creating your own from scratch. (Going with the latter option, you'll notice massive improvements to the game's character creation tools as well.) Once you've got a wrestler you're happy with, you then move into a particular group and the ultimate goal is to work your way to the top and win a title belt.

Each group has five opponents to get through and to get a shot at the title, you'll have to earn stars to prove you're worthy of a shot at the title. Points (stars) are awarded based on a number of factors such as how technical you are in and outside the ring, the excitement level you generate during matches and, of course, the match result.

This prompts you to think like a wrestler as you'll have to perform like one in terms of balancing how much punishment you dish out, whether you're a fair or dirty wrestler and more. On finishing the match and depending on how you performed, your wrestler will gain experience and will have his or her attributes change accordingly. It's all done automatically so those interested in micro-management might find themselves left out in the lurch. That said, the lack of control means you can breeze through this game mode at pace and this keeps things interesting.

Road to Wrestlemania is similar to the career mode though it features a number of story arcs that you can be a part of. In true WWE style these arcs encompass vanquishing arch enemies, a few unexpected surprises and even betrayal. If you're a WWE fan and like to be a part of all the drama, you'll find this mode appealing. Adding to the realism is the fact that most, if not all, of the wrestlers in this game are voiced by the actual WWE superstars.

As far as actual gameplay is concerned, 2009 plays similar to its predecessor and this is, for the most part, a good thing as you'll have loads of fun with this title. Its strong points include an absolutely massive move list, controls that are easy to get into and great tag-team playability. On the flipside the game's graphics engine isn't always great in terms of move animation and switching your focus from wrestler-to-wrestler (when move than one opponent is in the ring) is still quite difficult. This is frustrating as you'll find that more often that not, it will cause you to take a lot of punishment through no fault of your own.

For: The game is packed with tons and tons of deadly, bone-crunching moves and it'll take you months to figure them all out. Fantastic.

Verdict:The 2009 iteration of this long running wrestling series offers a number of improvements over its predecessor and, as a result, is a far better game to play overall.

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