WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009 – At last, a step in the right direction
Although few new features were introduced in the 2009 instalment, Smackdown vs Raw started to feel a little more polished to play, along with graphical improvement and visual accuracy, which is always welcome. Signature moves were introduced. These are performed the same way as Finishers, but are available sooner, and are considered the stepping stone to unlocking the use of the Finisher. For example, Triple H’s signature is his patented spine buster, which then leads the way to pick up the opponent for his Finisher, the Pedigree. The main PR focus on the game were the changes made to the tag team mode, such as the ‘Hot Tag’, where if in trouble you can call for a tag once your meter is charged, using the taunt action from the ropes. This initiates a 2-piece QTE section, where, if successful on both instances, it will knock the opposing tag partner off the apron to the floor below, and allows you to perform your finisher on the opponent left in the ring, with a good chance of victory. There are also opportunities for your untagged partner to help double team an opponent from the ropes, or even blind tag yourself into the match (i.e. ref didn’t see it therefore illegal) to try and gain a slight upper hand. All these are, of course, regular occurrences on WWE television, and are quite welcome, although it’s taken long enough. We’re into 2009 here, long after WWE TV’s best days have (arguably) ended.
Another new introduction is the Inferno match, which isn’t as explosive as the title suggests, unfortunately. The ring is surrounded by fire, a temperature meter is added to the HUD, and the goal is to raise the temperature to 300C by performing the biggest moves your character has, then dragging them into the flames near the ropes. Once they’ve caught fire, victory is yours. Yay.
There is also the gauntlet match, which consists of 1 wrestler against a team of others, but one after the other, not at the same time. Some modes received the chop in this incarnation, ones that are still the case even now; create a pay per view, create a championship and general manger mode.
General Manager Mode was dropped in favour of Road to Wrestlemania mode; character driven storylines much like WWE TV, each culminating in a match at the Wrestlemania PPV. These are reserved for the franchise’s biggest stars, such as John Cena, Triple H, and even a tag team driven storyline with Batista and Rey Mysterio. Road to Wrestlemania basically involves take your chosen character through each week of Raw/Smackdown, having a match each week, building up to the next PPV event, with twists and turns along the way, the chance to power up your wrestler’s attributes, etc. There are also lots of extra collectibles to unlock, by meeting certain conditions in matches, which are an incentive for achievement grabbers also.
The final notable mode addition is Career Mode. Not to be confused with the above, the main aim of this mode is for the player to fight their way up the rankings for a particular title of their choice, in match types that they can also choose/unlock. After each match, the player’s character is awarded attribute points based on the style of wrestling the player used. Each match is also rated with a 5-star rating system, so performing all the big moves, using weapons where allowed, finishers, etc all add up to being the #1 contender. My take is thus; very tedious, monotonous, and repetitive. Unlocking the achievement for putting FIVE separate wrestlers into the Hall of Fame nearly broke me.
Things are starting to take shape now; hardly perfect gaming but these are games for the fans of a franchise, nothing more. Don’t try this at home.