WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009 got released almost two weeks ago. Is it worth the upgrade over 2008? If you judge only from the graphics and the controls the answer would be no. But donít let that hold you off in getting the best wrestling game to date, because there is more then just graphics and controls!
I havenít played through the career mode yet and havenít explored other things fully yet. Therefore I donít see this as a review, but more like a hands-on impression of the game. I doubt Iíll fully review this game, because I covered almost everything I wanted to talk about in this blog post.
Let me tell you a bit about the bad stuff first. SvR2009 had competition this year in the form of TNA Impact. I thought about getting the game, because it looked promising. The graphics of TNA Impact seems slightly better than SvR2009 and their controls are easier which makes the game plays faster. But those are the only good things about TNA Impact. Everything else seems minimal. SvR2009 has way more stuff of everything else; moves, animations, arenas, wrestlers, modes, you name it! Besides, the only interesting wrestlers I would like to play with from TNA are Samoa Joe and maybe Sting. Besides that, Iím content about the graphics of SvR2009 even though it hasnít really improved since SvR2008.
Controls of SvR2009 are almost exactly the same as in SvR2008. I read comments of people that because it has the same controls, they wonít buy the game, because it plays and looks the same as the previous SvR game. I donít agree with that and Iím actually happy that they didnít change the controls for once, because they changed the controls in the last two games. At the time I felt they only put new controls, because they needed something new to show instead of the developers being unhappy with it. They added two signature moves next to the two finishers you can have. They also added new moves for tag team play, which works pretty well in matches against the CPU, but I donít know how this plays off when playing with and against other people. The hot tag is pretty fun, but hard to pull when you have donít have a player as a teammate. Iím happy with the controls except running into the ropes and bouncing back still glitches sometimes. Another thing that was annoying in SvR2008 was that whenever you did a strong grapple, you needed to wait after he punched or kicked you once in order to perform a successful move or else the CPU would just counter you right away. Because of that, the gameplay felt a bit slow. This was at default settings. Fortunately in SvR2009 you donít have to wait for that punch or kick anymore, you can perform your strong move right away, making the match faster and more intense.
There is a couple of more stuff I donít like in SvR2009. The backstage brawls suck major balls now. The two areas where it can take place barely have any interactivity compared to SvR2008, unless you need a signature move stored or a finisher in order to use the environment (which I havenít tried it out yet) all you can do is slam your opponent to a wall or item and use some weapons. Very disappointing and kind of makes the backstage brawls obsolete. They removed the area behind the fans as well, but I donít mind that, although it is fun to clothesline your opponent over the railing. An other thing that seems to be a bug or glitch is that you cannot irish whip an opponent or run into a turnbuckle during a Elimination Chamber match. You can however climb the cage and get on top of one of the corners. I hope they are going to fix this bug in a DLC patch. I havenít tried setting a barbed wire bat or a table on fire, but it was doable in SvR2008. Which brings me to the new mode in SvR2009: the inferno match. Itís a fun gimmick mode, but doesnít add much to the game IMHO. Road to Wrestlemania is a good replacement for that awful 24/7 mode and a more satisfying way to unlock your stuff. There are decent ďmic-workĒ from the wrestlers that you can use during the Road to Wrestlemania mode. You cannot however pick your own wrestler of choice.
Have I put you off in buying the game now? I hope not, because the good stuff comes now, apart from telling you the faster gameplay in two paragraphs above. The roster has been up-to-date again. Chris Jericho is in, woohoo (but why the fuck use him for licensed theme music crap)! Though there are still wrestlers that are already gone from WWE, some wrestlers are wearing outdated outfits and some wrestlers that are main eventing now are missing. Donít worry though; theyíll update some outfits and adding new wrestlers in an upcoming DLC patch. The only question is when theyíll release it. The DLC is another good addition to SvR2009, but it has to be seen how, when and what theyíll release with the DLC. I donít care if you have to pay for it, Iíd be happy to. You can also easily update their face/heel status, what brand they are on and whoís wearing what championship belt via a menu called My WWE. The only thing what is a bit of a miss are two wrestlers: The Masked Man and Tony (John Cenaís marine friend. Who? Yeah Ö), why the hell did they put up those in the game?! No one would play with them or even beat them up. You can still change the wrestlers moves with other moves of your liking. You can even change their entire entrance. New in SvR2009 is the fact that you can make your own finishing move now. Itís a fun idea, but unfortunately, it feels very limited.
What Iím happy about are the new animations of some moves. I really like the new lurking RKO performed by Randy Orton, the Moonlight Drive by John Morrison, the Reality Check by The Miz and many more moves. Unfortunately, not all wrestlers received their signature moves. For example, Beth Phoenix finisher and submission move arenít in the game. They also removed the jump from rope and kick the opponent in the face move (I donít know what itís really called) that John Morrison does during IRL matches and in SvR2008, which is a shame. What I donít really like is the camera cuts during a finisher/signature move. In SvR2008 you see your finisher a couple of times in rewind and slow motion with an extra stupid sound effect. In SvR2009 you see a glass breaking effect with another stupid sound effect (and sometimes slow motion too). I like camera cuts during some cool moves, but why did they put this bullshit during finishers in every one of their games?! I donít like it at all and it just makes me disable the camera cuts, which Iím doing for years now. Why canít they just do something more realistic, like displaying a high profile move next to the current action like they do on TV and displaying the finish in slow motion AFTER the bell rang? Then it looks cool. But enough ranting, letís continue! The referee seems to be more interactive too; he talks! Speaking of sound. I really dig the new soundtrack of SvR2009. It has some great tunes. In addition, you can fast forward to the next track by pressing a button. You can still rip music from music cdís and put them on the harddrive and select that song as your wrestlerís theme music. They also added the theme entrances of every wrestler in the game and the three brand show themes. Commentary by the RAW team is good, but some lines have been recycled from previous SvR games. The Smackdown team feels a bit less and the ECW team barely says anything, especially during the Road to Wrestlemania of CM Punk. The announcing teams havenít been updated either. Because the current RAW team consists of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, while in the game its still Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.
Iím the kind of guy that plays a match or two in exhibition mode almost every day. And Iím really happy with the improvements they made in SvR2009 over SvR2008. The game feels more complete than the previous one and I canít wait for the DLC, because it features Jerichoís new outfit and Evan Bourne (or so I read)! Wrestling fans that are disappointed with SvR2008 will notice the small improvements in SvR2009 that makes this franchise great again, apart from some annoyances.
And now for something different, I present to you my:
WWE Survivor Series 2008 After Thought:
Spoilers below, donít read if you still want to see the PPV without knowing the results:
Well, looks like we got another predictable PPV were people marked out big time. Iím happy Beth Phoenix got the win as Sole Survivor, but everyone predicted that. When news about the Hardy attack broke out and confirmation of Edgeís presence at the PPV, it was pretty obvious where things were going. The match itself was a bit unpredictable. I expected Hardy to either start the match or had a run-in before Edge, but it was Edge who ran in first. Eventually Edge was the one that stole the victory and the WWE Title. A Hardy vs Edge seems to be suggested now at Wrestlemania. It works for me, but what will Triple H do now? My hero and saviour Jericho lost to Cena. I knew this would happen. Most of the people predicted Jericho would win, because it would be more logical after all the awesome work he has done and Cena just coming back from an injury. But I think it was just in their mind that they hoped that Jericho would retain the belt, but they knew Cena would win it anyway. In the end, Jericho was just a transitional champion. Now Iím not a Cena-hater, I actually like Cena, but he beated my saviour to get the belt back. It makes sense for a Batista vs Cena II at Wrestlemania, but I donít fucking care about Batista, heís just a bad wrestler, I mean entertainer, I mean wrestler. I can understand why Wrestlemania hasnít sold out yet *grin*. I canít see Jericho going back for an other belt except the World Heavyweight Championship after all the great heel work he has done, anything would be too low for him IMHO. But who knows, maybe heíll win it back at RAW tonight or next week just like when he did against Batista. But thatís just me hoping Ö Please Ö WWE? Let Jericho save us again Ö for the third time? read