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WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 3D

For: Mobile   Also on: DS, PSP

As enjoyable as being pinned to the ground by a waxed leviathan

Product: WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Fighting, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Format: J2ME | File size: 652KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 Mobile, thumbnail 1
Spandex, theatrically gruff voices and muscles with the water retention abilities of a camel's hump. These are the key elements of WWE-style wrestling. Many kids become obsessed with this macho pantomime sport during their earlier years, but generally if the passions stays on as the child escapes the onset of puberty and makes his/her (let's face it, mostly his) way into the twilight teenage years, it's usually met with a quizzical eyebrow and a barely veiled snicker.

Those of you who still retain a love for all things muscled and irate may be getting a little hot under the collar now, because if there's one debate that is deaf to any sort of reason on both sides, it's wrestling. Some love, some deride it, but neither side ever budges.

A point a little less controversial is that there have been some damn fine games based on wrestling. Maybe it's because where watching someone theatrically pile-driving someone else into the ground on TV might be seen as a little sad, doing it yourself via the magic of a game controller simply (drop)kicks ass.

WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 marks the game franchise's move into 3D on the mobile handset and the benefit of having a fighter able to fill out into a third dimension is certainly apparent. Admittedly, the character models are rather too angular to seem particularly realistic, but the textures used are very good, supplying the sense of muscle definition lacking in the models themselves.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the backgrounds. They are of a far lower resolution than the characters, resulting in a pixelated mess. However, this is a forgivable sin when we consider this may well have been a technical sacrifice to get the fighters – the focus of a player's attention, after all – looking a little better.

Indeed, the appearance of your oiled warrior is far from neglected in this game. You can completely customise your characters, choosing everything from their facial expressions and tattoos to the colour of their knee pads. This feature is a real asset when you consider that you can use any character you modify throughout the main Career mode, bolstering their assets as you progress. This is one game that gives you time to bond with your creation.

Some effort has obviously been put into WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 in terms of trying to include the features a wrestling fan might expect. In the main Championship mode, you can choose between either RAW or the heavyweight SmackDown options. Each offers different fighters that are unlocked when defeated. Once unlocked, they can be used in the Versus mode, meaning that you can either play as them or face them again in a one-match fight.

In play, the feature list is as extensive. You can execute all the moves you'd expect, climb up on the side of the ring to perform an airborne move, and indeed leave the ring entirely where you'll find weapons (depending on the mode) that you can use to bludgeon your opponent with.

All seems in order, then. Well, no. Unfortunately the game hits the canvas when it comes to its key aspect – the fighting itself – which feels clunky and clumsy. When you're not engaged in the dull and all-too-frequent mini-game to determine the result of a grapple, there's not enough variation to the brawling. Even throwing in the special moves doesn't help, seeing as they lose their impact because of the nagging feeling of disconnection.

Without climbing up on the ring or trying to throw your opponent, your only option is a generic '5' key kick. The easiest way to down an opponent becomes to just to run at them by bouncing off the ring-side until they're tired enough to pin down.

The best way to describe it (as odd as it may sound given the subject matter) is that WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 lacks grace. There's simply no satisfaction to performing moves, and attacking your opponent just feels like laying into dough. And here there's no  metaphorical pizza to reward your kneading efforts.

It's a real pity the game lets itself down in such a core respect, because most other elements are commendable. Structurally, the game is good, offering a variety of modes and progression. Granted, it's not as accomplished visually, but it does the job and the character generation has real shades of brilliance to it.

However, when it comes to playing it, WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 delivers a dull and alienating experience that really doesn't do justice to all those kids working in lycra sweatshops around the world.
WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 3D
Reviewer photo
Andrew Williams | 17 October 2007
On paper WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008 3D may look like a stallion, but it plays like a mare
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