Review by PojoPooka
" WWE Smackdown! Tastes like Chicken"
Well, it actually tastes a lot better than that, but chicken was the only comparable thing I could think of. Anyway, onto the review.
Disclaimer: I assume you have basic knowledge of Pro Wrestling.
All I can say is wow. This game has blown me away. Aside the fact that aerial finishers are insanely hard to perform until you realize that you got to have your foe laying with their arms out and head turned to the side as if they were KOed and then run them over with a tractor, this game has pretty much no flaws. Well, one more: They deleted way too many moves for no logical reason. I guess THQ got a little drunk the night they decided what to do with movesets and aerial moves. However, they were sober for the rest of the creative time. The latter is the only reason this game fails to get a 10.
Lets begin with stamina. The game is finally balanced. My only gripe with this was that it didn't run out fast enough. Well, not anymore. I edited it in options so it ran out faster. Nice, huh? This game allows you to customize damage received from certain types of moves, stamina, and all sorts of fun stuff. THQ said they wanted to focus on the Sport, in Sports Entertainment, and they certainly did. The game has a much more "sports" feel to it with all the customizable options and all.
This game definitely reminds me of FPW in some way. Right down to where you got to breath at times to keep from losing all stamina. I had an awesome match against Flair when I was playing as Triple H. I lasted something like 15 minutes. Flair got the better of me towards the end, but he didn't breath enough and ended up hunching over gasping for air. I seized the opportunity and took advantage of the damage I dealt to his head earlier by Pedigreeing him while he was trying to get some air, and pinned him. It was really nice seeing how strategy plays out in the game.
I don't know how many people were annoyed by this last year and the year before, but powerful moves could hurt the entire body. Powerful, average, weak, in between, whatever, actually. You could work on the other guy's back and in the process his legs and arms would get red. This just wasn't right. Apparently, THQ agreed. Moves no all target specific parts, and you can actually see what parts they target in the CAW mode. Granted, a few of them are a tad off such as Angle's new Angle Slam targeting the head primarily, but at least you know what it targets now, and you wont injure their entire body when using it.
If you've played WWE Smackdown Vs Raw last year, you know that you could store up to 3 finishers at a time. Well, now it's a bit different. You got to build up your Momentum Meter, at which point you can then use your finisher or store it for later. Repeating moves over and over again will not help the meter, though. Finally, no more rapidly using the same move in order to gain a finisher.
Only 1 finisher may be stored at a time. If you use your finisher when you have higher Momentum, just like IRL, it will be stronger. Yet another touch of realism. I thought I'd hate that you could store only 1 finisher, but it isn't hard to gain another quickly if you know what you are doing. You should know what you are doing quickly, cause this game is easy to pick up on. That's not the only change to finishers now, though. You can also do a finisher when you are grabbing your foe(prior to a grapple move) and when you pull them up off the ground. This is excellent news for finishers that have a kick in the gut somewhere in it. For example, in past Smackdown games, the easiest and most common way to do a finisher was to kick the foe in the gut to stun them, then do your finisher. What if the finisher involves a kick in the gut, like the Stunner or Pedigree? Well, it ended up looking weird. But there are many ways to do finishers now where they don't look odd. Nice touch, THQ.
I hate this category. It's so simple and I really have little interest in discussing it. Lets just say some of the songs they play(most, actually) on the menu screen STINK. Other than that, perfect.
Stunning. Fantastic. Exceptional. Just some of the words that can be used to describe this games visual effects. Everything is so detailed. The wrestlers look very lifelike, and the entrance animations are perfect. On that subject of entrances, most of them are spot on. Just a couple(Batista, etc) fall short.
Anyway, the graphics. The arenas are lit beautifully, and the game has a nice fresh feeling. Furthermore, the blood looks awesome. Nothing like a DDT that leaves a blood stain, huh? Especially when the blood stain looks real.
If you care about graphics, don't have any hesitation about this category.
About online and lag ... or lack there of. I've played about 15 matches online, and I have only experienced lag that interfered with my ability to win a match with 1 foe. 4 of those matches have been 4-way, also.
Online rocks. I am having so much fun with it. I had an awesome tag match awhile ago. I was Orton and my partner was Triple H, and we fought Rey and a CAW. It was a long match, and in the end Rey started the 619 against me, and I thought I was done for. However, while Rey was doing that, HHH Pedigreed the CAW and pinned him while Rey hit the West Coast Pop part of his finisher. It was just really cool, watching my tag partner realize that Rey was tied up doing his finisher to me, so he had to act quickly.
Anyway, I suppose it's case by case, but I know online works perfectly for me. I have a feeling that people that complain about lag are either using a bad connection or fighting someone with a bad connection.
The only reason this doesn't get a 10/10 is because only 4 people can play together online. No 6 Man matches. That's pretty trivial, though. The main thing is that two people can't go online on the same PS2. I was looking forwards to going online with friends in tag matches, but that isn't possible.
There are so many modes and matches. PPV, General Manager, Story, and way too many match types to list(more than ANY other Pro Wrestling game in the world). Only reason this category doesn't see a ten is because we STILL don't have good backstage areas for Hardcore matches, and no Hardcore Time Limit mode.
Story Mode is a lot better this year, but the main thing of notice is General Manager mode. In this mode we control 1 brand(Raw or Smackdown), and balance the budget, keep the stars happy, create storylines, etc. Never thought Bischoff and Long's on-screen jobs were this hard, huh? Well, they may be hard, but it is twice as fun as it is hard. The very idea of running a brand is new and original in America. Sure, it's been done in FPW and on that computer game thing, but this is the first time a console system has seen this. To me, it has many of the effects of an RPG, as far as how much it engrosses you. On top of that, one human can control Raw, and another can control Smackdown. That adds a lot to the competition factor.
Nothing major is wrong with the game. The worst things are the deleted moves and aerial finishers. Neither of these ruins the gameplay. I was a MAJOR critic of SvR. I kept playing SD5 until this game came out, cause SDvR was a piece of trash. SDvR2006 is a truly remarkable game though. THQ really hit the nail on the head. I can't wait to see them continue in this direction, the direction is strategy, with their future games. No Mercy, DoR, and SD 5 and 6 have nothing on this game. DoR2 is still amazing, but this game defeats it, also.
Rent or Buy: If you like WWE games and have been waiting for SD to go more strategy and less arcade, this is it. Definitely buy. If you are looking for a good wrestling game, I'd buy it. If your just a casual wrestling gamer or anything less, rent it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/05
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