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WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009

For: Mobile   Also on: DS, PSP

Definitely raw, but not necessarily in a good way

Product: WWE 2009 | Developer: Bight Games | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Fighting, Sports | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 831KB | Reviewed on: N81 8GB other handsets | Version: Europe
WWE 2009 Mobile, thumbnail 1
Wrestling's brief flirtation with the mainstream a decade or so ago seems to have long passed on British shores, yet the 'sport' seems to marry with games rather well, with yearly releases shooting up the charts with ease.

It could be that we all get so pent up in our daily lives that we fancy nothing more than a cathartic 'slam-dunking' of some random to relieve the tension. Or maybe we've all got a penchant for oiling up our bodies at the weekends.

Either way, Smackdown vs Raw serves up a dose of each, letting you practise those wrestling moves on willing participants with a fair amount of shiny pecs and biceps on show. Problem is, Bight Games's take on this most scripted of sports is a little weak at the knees when you actually play the thing.

It all starts with the game's tutorial mode, which - very neatly - showcases all the moves available to you in each bout. It's a credit to the system that it only takes a brief explanation for the controls to become second nature, with most of the actual blows being assigned to the '5' key, climbing the ropes or holding your opponent in a grip tied to the '1' key, and the super slamming moves taken care of with the '2', '4', '6', and '8' keys.

The idea is to combine all these moves to build up your 'momentum bar', which, once full, allows you to activate your 'finishing move', hopefully pinning your opponent to the ground and winning the fight. Said tutorial gives you set slots in which to practise all of these moves. In the real fights, however, things aren't quite as straightforward.

Given that the game essentially tries to replicate something that's pre-planned, it suffers from its own lack of choreography. The tussles are full of embarrassing moments when either both wrestlers try to perform the same move at the same time (seeing both characters mount the ring corners, waiting for the other to get back down and walk straight into his trap, is fairly amusing), or nothing happens at all.

When the action does kick off, Smackdown vs Raw's engine has a habit of breaking the laws of physics, putting both players in the same space or having one kick right through the body of the other.

It also turns a bit Laurel and Hardy on occasion, with characters repeatedly facing the wrong way and standing with their backs to each other.

When all of these elements happen to combine in one fight, this latest WWE title begins to look and play like a joke - there's little chance of anyone managing to wrestle any sense of realism from the matches when they are as calamity laden as this.

What's worse is, most of these faults were evident in WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008. Little to no progress seems to have been made in rectifying them, with the only gloss having been applied to the game's visuals, which add a curve or two to what were previously right-angled biceps.

In fairness, there's still a lot here to satisfy WWE devotees. As the title suggests, players can take part in either Smackdown or Raw bouts, as well as Summerslam, ECW, Armageddon, No Mercy, No Way Out, Vengeance and Wrestlemania style fights.

WWE also lets you create your own character in Career mode (who can resist coming up with a name for their own wrestler?) and, while the body models on offer are all essentially the same, the option to shove on a mask, beard or even blue skin means every single look is catered for.

But it's the odd botched battles in the ring that drag WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009 down. It is, essentially, the Chuckle Brothers of the wrestling world: entertaining in a fairly puerile way, but not exactly packing much of a punch.
WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2009
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 16 December 2008
Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 comes with all the features you might expect from a comprehensive wrestling sim, but sadly plays more like a game of slapstick than it does a WWE bout
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