Nov 21, 2008

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009

Wrestling game fans need no introduction to the Smackdown vs. Raw (SVR) franchise. After all, it's been the definitive game in the genre for many a generation. Over the years there have been a number of improvements to the visuals and the gameplay, but at first look you can't help but feel that you're playing the same SVR that you completed last year. So my main motive in playing through SVR 2009 was to see what's new and if it's worth a purchase if you already own SVR 2008.

When it comes to the player roster, nothing beats SVR 2009. There are over 60 playable wrestlers on first boot, with options for two costumes for almost all of them. Plus there are unlockable characters that you will get access to as you play through different game modes. If there's a wrestler you love to play as that's not featured in the game roster, there's always the industry's best Create a Wrestler option, which is hands-down the biggest character customizable tool in the history of video games. You won't have to worry about the gameplay going stale with this at your disposal, especially considering that THQ has promised downloadable content on Xbox Live in the near future.

The control system has made a comeback from SVR 2008. In all honesty, it was the right thing to do, considering that the last game had pretty much perfected that comfort-plus-accessibility ratio. The only issue I have with the control scheme is that running towards an opponent is still not very accurate or as comfortable as I would have liked it to be.

The best part about SVR 2009 is the Road to Wrestlemania mode, which captures the kind of drama you'd expect from WWE. You get to select one of seven available superstars to play through (no Khali unfortunately), each with their own storylines, complete with real voice acting and the drama that gets you playing through just to reach the ending. That's not to say the stories penned for each of these superstars is a masterpiece, but they do have a quality about them that gets fans of wrestling charged enough to support their superstars in the main events.

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