PS3/Wii Review: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009

Smackdown has never been so raw

The #1 fighting game franchise in the world upholds its commitment to providing gamers with the definitive simulation of live WWE programming. Featuring added depth and realism, along with a first-ever co-op storyline, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 enables players to come together and experience the virtual world of the WWE. On your own, you’re great, but together, you’re unstoppable.

Tag Team Explosion: WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 unleashes a brand new tag team match. Build momentum and attributes as a team, destroy opponents with high-impact double teams, pull off new bone-crunching tag team finishers and get the “hot tag” for the win.

Road To Wrestlemania: Pave the way to WWE’s biggest event of the year through WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009’s new story mode, which features the franchise’s first-ever co-op storyline.

Create-A-Move: Construct the most devastating moves ever unleashed in a WWE ring with this brand new interface. WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 lets players customize all aspects of created Superstars—even their very own finishing moves.

New Online Functionality: Extend the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 gameplay experience with downloadable content and much more.

Those of you who have read my past reviews for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw will know that I’m not a fan of Wrestling, all that fake stuff just bugs the hell out of me. The games add realism to it where the real thing doesn’t, when I think about it…it seems more of a parody because its more realistic. This year I will be reviewing both PS3 and Wii versions of Raw 2009, so first I’ll begin with Sony’s machine and move over to Nintendo’s.

Raw 2009 has all the features you would expect from a Wrestling game, endless amounts of customisable matches like tag-teams and so on. A career mode and even creating your own finishing moves, online is standard but fun. What it comes down to is that it doesn’t feel that much different from last year’s game. It seems that the new additions to gameplay is the main focus of Raw 2009, which doesn’t seem enough for the game’s price tag. Of course, it’s hard not to recommend to anyone who avoided last year’s game. I’m not just saying that because I’m not a fan of the “sport”, but because it’s true. If you are a fan, you are going to feel short-changed for the new additions without the substance to back it up.

The PS3 controls are fairly solid and they definitely feel more refined than the last time I played a different version of Smackdown other than a Wii one, which was back in the 07 version. Smackdown has become a yearly update like the Madden’s, FIFA’s and NHL’s that EA pump out, it’s not a bad thing…but with more time and dedication, this year’s game could have been twice as good.

Visually, the PS3 game is quite strong. I won’t lie and say it’s the best looking PS3 game, because it isn’t. There are a few performance issues, but they are minimal and don’t spoil what is a good game.

The Wii version is practically identical to the PS3 version except for its controls and visuals. It has all the same modes, even online play is chucked in for the first time. Having played both games, the Wii is definitely the better of the two with its controls. They are so satisfying to do and it’s the first time I actually enjoyed playing a WWE game.

Visually, it’s the weaker of the two by a lot. Crowd models look like something from the N64 days, they really look awful. Wrestler models look just fine, although clearly not as crisp as the ones in the PS3 version. Load times are quick and online is just fine. It’s hard to really say that a Wii version is better than a next-gen one, but in this case it’s the right thing to do. It’s so much more satisfying than tapping a few buttons on a controller and while the PS3 version looks 100x times better, it proves that visuals don’t mean everything.

The Verdict

No matter what version you decide to pick up, you’ll have fun with either one. The Wii version is more satisfying with its controls, while the PS3 version looks better. Fans will be dismayed by the small improvements from last year’s game, but for newcomers…now is a good time to get into the series.