|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 also has very deep online modes. There are basically two components to the online functionality: community and matches. The community-based feature consists of created and shared highlight reels that can be uploaded and ranked. While perusing through the different videos isn't exactly the most exciting feature of the game, I have to say that the creativity of WWE fans really shines here, and high-ranking videos generally don't disappoint.
The match component of the online functionality, however, did feel a little more shallow than I had initially expected. Given the huge match list available in Exhibition mode, I had naturally assumed that the online exhibitions would have many of the same features. However, the online matches are still very limited and only consist of two, three, and four person matches with some generic-feeling customization options.
Control in this title is pretty much the same as it has been in past SmackDown! Vs. Raw titles, which is definitely not a bad thing. You will be able to use the face buttons for simple grappling and hand-to-hand combat moves and the right thumbstick for more advanced grapples. You can also use the shoulder buttons to initiate special and signature attacks or to add more power to a grappling move. Several of the moves are interactive, and you will be able to control the frequency and intensity of the attack by jostling the thumbsticks or pressing certain buttons. The control here is very easy to learn, but I must say that it does lack a little bit of depth. The move list is on the limited side, and even when you customize your move set, it is hard to keep from doing the same moves over and over.
The visuals in SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 are quite good and are definitely an upgrade from last year. The wrestlers this time around sport a lot more detail, and the cutscene animations are a lot more fluid than they have been in the past. However, even though the wrestlers themselves look great, the ring and environment visuals still have a very bland look to them. Even backstage arenas and staging areas are painfully nondescript and resemble empty rooms more than actual backstage areas.
The sound in this title is pretty much on par with previous titles. The music is a nice mix of WWE-licensed tunes as well as individual wrestler themes. The voiceover in the game is of excellent quality, and the different wrestlers really come to life through the sound, and, thankfully, it is free of all those annoying stock phrases that have marred past titles.
Overall, SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 is a perfect title for wrestling fans. It has tons of different match types, plenty of customization options, and provides some new and interesting ways to interact with other fans. This is definitely the most complete-feeling WWE title to come down in a long time, and it is great that the series has wrestled itself back into the spotlight. If you are into wrestling at all, this title is a must-buy, and even if you have shunned away from the WWE games in recent years, this title is definitely worth coming back to the franchise for. Just make sure to bring your sweat bands, 'cause you may be in it for the long haul!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor