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Author Topic: Review: WWE Smackdown VS Raw 2009 (PS3)  (Read 1829 times)

Mark

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Review: WWE Smackdown VS Raw 2009 (PS3)
« on: January 06, 2009, 02:33:50 PM »


Interestingly enough, Tina was the one that mentioned to me that this game has a new co-op story mode.  This immediately piqued my interest, but I was skeptical, so we decided to go ahead and rent it first to see what's up.

I'm not going to go into much detail about the mechanics of these wrestling games.  I will say that the gameplay is pretty good and better than previous iterations, despite still feeling a bit sloppy.  It still takes an eternity to get up after being knocked down.  Commentating was done with the emotion of an anemic sloth.  And sometimes the collision detection and targetting seem to be dictated by a random number generator.  Still decent enough to be fun though.

Improvements to Coop Gameplay:

They made some great additions to the tag-team aresenal.  You can do all sorts of things from the tag corner.  Kick an opponent that gets too close, pull the ropes down when they are Irish whipped, and even blind tag your partner.  You can do double team moves.  There is a hot tag gimmick (tries to reenact the "hero is beaten down, but makes the miraculous tag and partner is fired up" scenario).  You can also pretty much come into the ring and mess around at will (the ref is incompetent at everything except foreign object DQs and the 5 count is nice and slow).  Or if you prefer, walk around to the other side of the ring and take out the opponent's partner on the floor.

There are some silly restrictions, like when you tag your partner you are immediately forced out of the ring (you should get a 5 count to do a bit of double team).  Also, when an opponent is grappling your partner, you can't knock him out of a move animation (basically, the opponent is invincible until the move is completed).  That's kind of lame.  But still, overall they did a pretty good job of enabling the illegal man plenty to do.

The Coop Mode:

Although you could always just do an exhibition match, we were really interested in an ongoing story mode to play through together.  This game is touted to be the first in the series to actually have a "dedicated coop story".

First of all, it might take you a bit to find it if you don't know where to look.  There are several menu choices, none of which say "coop story mode" or anything close.  You need to start the "Road to Wrestlemania".  Then you need to cycle through the various characters until you see a special one for Batista and Rey Mysterio.

This is the only story mode that allows for tag team.  This also means that you and your partner can only use the two aforementioned characters.  Not fans?  Too bad.

The story mode adds a bit of dialogue "setup" to build a bit of drama between matches.  If you like the banter in the WWE shows, this is probably right up your alley.  If you have a basic education though, you will quickly become bored with the same banal tripe that you've associated with large, angsty men.  They seriously must let the wrestlers write their own dialogue.  There is no other explanation.

So after you skip the cut scene, you go to the locker room where you will sometimes get a cell phone message or note with more angsty dialogue.  But sometimes it also gives you a side goal which can be rather fun to attempt.  Completing the side goal will net you an unlockable.

What's the dumbest thing to do in a coop mode?  If you said "force players to play single player matches" you'd be right!  Second dumbest is "force players to fight each other".  Guess what?  This mode makes you do both.  There will be times where one player has a match and the other player is not even in it to do anything.  There are also matches where you have to fight each other.  This is what happens when developers try to hit up a demographic they have no clue about.  I'm still happy that they at least tried and that coop is actually a blip on their radar.  But it's depressing that they didn't at least hire a consultant to clue them in on some of the basics.  You know, crazy stuff like "a coop mode should really have both people playing all the time".  Sigh.

Most of the matches are 2 on 2 tag, although you will get a pretty big variety of matches overall (including 3 on 3, 2 on 3, and even a Royal Rumble).  The whole mode will only take about 4 or so hours to play through though.  It feels a little on the short side, especially when it tries to cliffhanger you with more developing drama at the end.

Conclusion:

It was a decently fun playthrough, but the gameplay just wasn't polished enough to be consistently fun long term.  I'd rather play FirePro just for its tighter control, reliability, speed, and limitless roster.  Graphics are really good (as far as these types of games go).  The music was straight from the show (pretty much all the tracks from the WWE library for all the contenders).  Sound effects sucked (really bad job of selling impacts).

Overall I'd give it a 7.5.  On the coop scale, I give it a 7.75.  The coop mode is flawed, but it's a decent start to something I'd like to see improved upon in the next game.  If you are a fan of previous games, this one will probably make you happy.  But this discerning coop gamer hopes for better next year (man, they churn this stuff out so fast that EA is telling them to pace themselves).
« Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 02:38:27 PM by Mark »

 




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