Reviewed: November 23, 2008
Released: November 9, 2008
Have you ever wanted to find out what it was like to be WWE Superstar, but you don’t want to get in the ring? SmackDown vs. RAW 2009 for the Wii gives you the chance to do that. I have had past experiences with the original SmackDown series and the SmackDown vs. RAW series, but I would have to say this game tops them all. The game features updated rosters, updated pay-per-view venues, more match types, and tag-team maneuvers, among plenty of other things. All of these items make this the best of the series, in my opinion, and the next title in the series will have to make this game look like an unplayable game to be better.
The interface of the game is similar to the rest of the series. You must strike and grapple your opponent to wear him down. After gaining enough momentum, you are able to use your signatures and finishing moves to give him the pin. The exhibition mode gives you the chance to play all of the match types to see how they work, and your choices of matches that can be used in the Career and Road to WrestleMaina modes. The load times for the game is surprisingly shorter than most of the other games in the series, meaning you can get through matches and the season modes faster. The game also boasts new match types such as; the Money in the Bank Ladder Matches, Hell in a Cell matches, Table matches, the Royal Rumble, and an ECW Extreme Rules Match.
The Road to WrestleMaina mode allows you to lace up the boots of several WWE Superstars for the three month period before WrestleMania 24. You get to choose from Triple H, CM Punk, John Cena, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, or a combination of Batista and Rey Mysterio. The last choice you can play alone or in tandem with a friend. This mode is fast paced and features unlockables that can enhance your experience with the Create A Wrestler (CAW) mode, unlock new Superstars and titles, unlock tag teams and stables from years past.
The Career mode has a similar feel to the Road to WrestleMania mode, but with two obvious exceptions. First, it goes for a whole year. Second, you can use any WWE Superstar or even a CAW. During this mode you can fight for titles and feud with other Superstars, all with one obvious goal. This is the goal of being in the main event of WrestleMania. In order to do any attacks it takes a combination of swinging the Wii Remote and pushing buttons. When I first started playing the game, it was hard to figure out how to grapple and move. However there is a tutorial in the pause menu that duplicates the information in the instruction manual. There are also tip boxes that show up from time to time that can show you specific ways of doing things. (For example, at the start of a tables match, it describes the action needed to put your opponent through the table.)
The controls are a little confusing at first, but I would suggest playing the Road to Wrestlemania mode first to learn the controls. Also, you use some of the strongest Superstars in the game in that mode, so you can afford to lose a few matches in order to make the learning curve. The game also has interactive entrances that use actions of the Wii remote to make you feel like you’re entering the ring. My only complaint on the controls is, the fact that they do not point out all the actions for the match types in the manual. There are some that are not pointed out clearly enough as well.
The icing on the cake however, is the Create A Wrestler mode. This mode, as in every other game, allows you to make yourself into a WWE Superstar. I have also seen other people create wrestlers from other promotions, or from WWE’s storied history. The parts are very detailed and give a very realistic model. I could even go as far as saying it could be a design for yourself, should you ever hit the WWE big time. You start out with a basic set, but more items are unlocked able in the Road to WrestleMania mode. After creating your physical appearance, you are able to create your entrance and your move set. Once you’re done with these, you will need to raise statistics such as strength, speed, submission, and stamina.
The graphics of the game are lifelike and make you feel like you’re watching WWE on your television. All of the arenas are authentic, the pyrotechnics are like ones you see on the programs, and the superstar motions look fluid inside and outside the ring. When you damage your opponent enough, they start to bleed realistically, too. The Superstars look so much like themselves; it was if a body scan was done to them in their wrestling attire and the attire they wear backstage. There is no HD support for this game, but who with as much attention they gave to the graphics, who needs them.
The sound is also realistic. You hear the bell, the ring sounds, the clanks and crashes of foreign objects and tables in the ring. During the matches, you are given great commentary by one of three announce teams (JR and King, Coach and Michael Cole, or Tazz and Joey Styles). I have heard bad commentary in wrestling games before (SmackDown: Just Bring It), but I loved what I heard in this game. The commentary does not sound choppy at all. It sounds like they are actually sitting there and commenting on the match. Almost all of the stars on the rosters provide their voices for the Road to WresleMania mode, and the ring announcers make real time introductions to the ring. Artists such as POD, Egypt Central, Disturbed, Rev Theory, and Motorhead all have songs in the game, whether they are Superstar entrance themes, or original songs of their own. Overall, the sound and music make the game even better.
SmackDown vs. RAW 2009 takes very little time to master and play if you don’t create your own wrestler. A little more time to build up your wrestler is needed if you do. This game also has an online feature, allowing you to play against others across the country and around the world, via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are no differences between the modes as far as the match types are concerned. You can even play co-op tag team matches with a friend in the Wi-Fi connect mode. All of these reasons make this game have greater replay value and life expectancy for the game and the online portion of the series. This would be a great buy for Christmas, and you do get your moneys worth out of the game.
All in all, I believe that SmackDown vs. RAW 2009 is a great choice for the Wii. Its many game modes, its realistic controls, sounds, and actions, and its online capabilities all make this game an excellent buy. THQ and Yukes will have a lot to build on and will have high expectations for the next game in the series. This is a definite buy and you will not be disappointed.