Review by Zeltica

"Bodies have been broken... Careers ended in an instant..."

Basically, I'm a huge World Wrestling Entertainment fan. Wrestling may be fake, but it's soap opera-esque story lines, crazy hijinks, and colorful characters have kept me unable to turn away for years now. That being said, it was quite apparant that I would go out and buy the newest wrestling game Smackdown! vs. Raw 2006. Although it seems that wrestling games still can't hold a candle to the popular Nintendo 64's WWF No Mercy, this game does it's best to come close to it.

Gameplay

The game play is still all about the grappling system. Using different types of grapples depending on your opponents current state will decide the outcomes of the matches. It's still the same wrestling game as it's predecessors, with a few changes here and there. However, things seem much more fluid and solid compared to last years Smackdown! vs. Raw, which by the way was a terrible game. There are a various assortment of match types here to play, such as Hell In a Cell, Triple Threat Tornado Tag, Hardcore, Singles, etc. Nearly every match you would expect or want is in here, except for some reason they still refuse to include the triple threat tag team Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Why? I don't know. It makes no sense considering the popularity of it, and it's history. However regular tag team TLC's are in here. The Fulfill Your Fantasy match is by far the most pointless and useless match in the history of wrestling games. Not only does WWE seem to degrade women on national television, it also brings it to video games. If I wanted to see half naked chicks hitting each other with pillows, I'd watch something more naughty, or go over a friends house. ;) I think future wrestling games could incorporate the use of women in all matches (which used to be allowed when the series first began), as the game is gender biased and doesn't allow them to compete in all the things the male wrestlers can. Now, about wrestling moves, some of them just lack the proper attributes, and furthermore some of them are horribly presented here. The RKO comes to mind the most, as it's Randy Orton's finishing maneuver and it just looks terrible. Other than the nitpicking though, the game play is fun, especially against friends. Overall 10/10.

Story

It's a WWE game, so the story line(s) aren't all that great. Depending on which wrestlers you use they can get repetitive. I've only seen about 15 or so varying stories myself, and a lot of wrestlers share the same ones. Not to mention that the roster of this game is fairly poor. Yes, you have your favorites here, but then again it seems like too much filler and not enough killer. Wrestlers such as Sylvain Grenier, Heidenreich, Joy Giovanni, etc are worthless to have, while some key wrestlers are missing. Legends have been brought back. So by doing certain tasks in the game you can unlock past titans of old, a few of which seem useless (Junkyard Dog). One of the best things about this game in my opinion is the Challenge mode. The challenge mode presents the player with certain tasks to complete, each on different difficulties. This can be a great option to have as I find it hones the player's skills (it helped me). The newest addition to the series is the General Manager mode which is an EA sports type franchise mode. Here, you draft wrestlers, sign them to contracts, keep up stamina and happiness, all the while trying to become GM of the year by having the most fan support. It's a nice thing to have, but after a while it can become boring. Overall an 8/10.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics are great, character models are well done for the most part. However THQ seems to like to add muscle to characters that have none. John Bradshaw Layfield is a prime example of this. The guy has no abs at all, instead a full on beer belly. Yet, they decided to give him a 6 pac. I don't if they are trying to better the physical images of certain characters or just hate flab, but they need to simulate the realism instead of the fantasy. Sound is decent. Most of the characters current theme songs are in the game, and the background songs will be stuck in your head at no time. They left out the RAW and Smackdown! Theme songs though, which is a bit of a disappointment. Overall 9/10.

Playtime/Re-Playability

It's a sports driven game. So naturally it's pointless to have a playtime. However, with one character one may spend quite a few hours completing their story mode, and GM mode takes hours upon hours to complete. Replay value is very high, it's what you would expect, and even if you get tired of this game, popping it in and playing some matches against a friend, never really tires. Enjoyment is quite abundant here. 9/10

Final Verdict

Buy this game if you like wrestling games in general because this is a strong effort by THQ and Yukes. There's way too much to in this game to rent it, and it'll provide you with several hours of fun time. Can't wait for the next years installment. Hopefully we'll be one step closer to surpassing No Mercy. Final score 8/10.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/10/06


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