Over the past 2-3 Days I’ve had a chance to sit down and play WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009 for the Xbox 360. Today, I have the review for you. Will it be better than last years version or will it fall short and become another failed attempt at bettering a product. Find out now!

The Smackdown! series in its own right has been one of the most dominant wrestling video game franchises to date. This year as they release 2009, the fans were looking forward to a game that not only delivered the WWE experience, but also a game that will give them that sigh of relief that the Developers at THQ were listening to the fans and made a game that would overshadows the likes of Here Comes The Pain. I am here to deliver the news in this review.

Lets start off with graphics, This game looks better than 2008. It includes new player models and features a more HDish product than last year. I will first off say, they all look great. The wrestlers look like their real life counter parts and the presentation in modes like “Road To Wrestlemania” mimics the real life telecasts of Raw, Smackdown and ECW. When you look at a game like this, it makes you feel like you’re really watching a WWE show.

Lets move on though to the gameplay of Smackdown vs Raw, which has continued to either piss most people off or bring in more fans. This year they’ve taken out the fighting styles that gained a lot of negative feedback from people, but kept in the abilities that came with them. With that being said, the game has actually become better without them, though when you face a guy like Kennedy, it will annoy you when you hit that finisher and he possum pins you. Whether you kick out or not is upon you to control. The new targeting system has vastly improved from last year, for you to look at the person you want, you just have to be near them. Now, there is one hiccup with this, if the person you want is near another person then it does get confused between the two guys you want. Lets say its a tag match, your partner is near the legal man in the ring. You want the legal man but instead you find yourself grappling your partner. Other than that though, the targeting system is pretty solid. The controls have stayed the same from 2008 so you don’t have to go in and find out what button does what or get used to a new scheme.

This year instead of a single story mode, you have 7. You’re probably saying “WHAT!? 7!?” Yes, 7, as the amount of wrestlers you’ll take through Road to Wrestlemania Mode. This mode lets you take control of either CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Triple H, John Cena, Undertaker or Batista & Rey Mysterio. Each story usually takes you a day to finish but each are also pretty good in its own right. You can use this mode to unlock most of the characters, belts, moves, etc. that you can use in the game and online. The dialogue in this mode is pretty solid depending on who you’re talking about here. Guys like MVP and Regal seem to improv some lines and make it seem natural and not like they’re reading off a script. On the other hand, you have guys who seem like they’re reading scripts. But its still pretty entertaining and does its job in the end to progress the storyline.

Create a Finisher is a new addition to the series, it gives the player the control over making either the most craziest finishing move or the most modest and realistic one. Being this is the first time this has been in the game, its was pretty well done for the first time, sadly it still feels restricting.†

With the addition of Highlight Reel, Some added parts for CAW and Career Mode. This game is definitely better than last years version, but it still doesn’t overshadow HCTP or No Mercy. This game is a step in the right direction, but it still needs the little tweaks here and there before it can be considered the best wrestling game in history. I give this one an 8 out of 10 and a solid buy if you’re a wrestling fan.



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