WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2006 (THQ: PSP)
By David Simpson
For those of you expecting this game to look like the PS2 version, should read the following two statements:
1.) This game may disappoint you.
2.) This game is as close as the PSP will ever get to that… for now!
I was always under whelmed by THQ’s latest PS2 WWE game and held little hope for the PSP version. However, I was pleasantly surprised. THQ have managed to fit so much in this game, that it makes almost any negatives (and there are some) seem petty.
The graphics are more the level of Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth, which is nothing to sniff at. The characters, arenas and ring are all well presented. Only real problem is the terribly, animated crowds, but that’s just being petty.
Garnish: Menus, screens and so on are also well presented and easily accessible, but nothing special.
As soon as I read that the commentary was omitted I rejoiced. I whooped and cheered. No more listening to the awful AWFUL ramblings of Cole and disturbing remarks of Lawler. This will never work and the sooner THQ realise this, the better. However, we still must suffer the voice-overs of the WWE Superstars and this is still as emotive as a Vulcan funeral.
Garnish: Usual grunts and groans are here for us to enjoy. Music is reproduced well, but the in-ring music can be irritating and at times a little distracting.
On the PS2, Smackdown has never been the most accessible game. Despite this, the PSP has handled this well. There are the usual problems, such as the PSP not really being suited to a thumb-basher, but maybe that’s just my fear of putting my thumb through the machine in an attempt to make Bret Hart tap out!
Now, here’s where I put on my cynical hat and put on my ‘I want games to last forever’ T-Shirt. There are those who like games they can complete in an hour, but I do not. With the recent WWE games, the subject of longevity has been a big problem. The whole concept of the Season mode is that it should be infinitely replayable. I will always say that Here Comes The Pain is the greatest WWE game ever and I have, and probably will, be playing it for years. Until THQ go back to this format, with all the championships available, the game will always come up short.
This game has a limited number of stories that can be played (as with the PS2 version) over a years worth of wrestling.
Note: This works out about Forty-Eight matches. This sounds a lot and indeed it is lengthy, however if each match lasts 3-5 minutes, plus ten minutes for story parts. Adding up to the Twelve hours of play. Now, it does sound a lot, but when you consider you can play the whole game in less than a day, it makes for a severe lack of value and game replay.
However, on the other hand, the stories are enjoyable and it is nice to be able to play as Stonecold again. I do wish that they would give us more character specific storylines, recreations of old feuds or something to tie us in with the current storylines and not just a general random mish-mash of characters and typical obvious ones e.g. For Titles, Divas.
As a Two-Player game, or one for a casual gamer, this game cannot fail to please. (Well almost!*) The range of matches is extensive and surprising. The fact they were able to include the Elimination Chamber and Buried Alive match, is a testament to the raw power of the PSP. My only real quibble is that any matches involving Four or more players, it is just TOO BUSY for the PSP screen.
* Now, we come to the biggest negative; PSP’s loading times. If you click the link below, you will see an example of why this is not a great game if you want a ‘quick go’.
(NOTE: My.ImpactWrestling.com is not responsible for this link.)
The worst place for this is the CAW mode. You will notice, that I have ignored this. This is not due to it having flaws, it doesn’t. Infact, there are enough features to allow you to create any wrestling superstar past or present. But, if you were stunned by the length of time to start one match, then add to that the loading time of the CAW and you could go bake a pie, wait for it to cool and still have time to eat it before you throw the first punch.
Garnish: What else could the PSP offer us, but three insane mini-games. These should give you a fun alternative to the actual game… but sadly, that is not the case. The inclusion of the Challenge mode was a nice touch, but with most of them being idiotic (more suited to the Day of Reckoning Training mode) and do not make me want to complete them. The idea of recreating specific matches e.g. Wrestlemania 13’s Austin vs Hart is a great idea; one that could make a great storyline section of the game itself.
BY GOD IT’S HUGE! The PSP has achieved the unthinkable, in replicating the PS2’s roster, which I was pleased about. At least this time there is no messing about to get Jake the Snake.
The biggest plus (technically) of this game is that you can transfer your season, CAW data from system to system, thus allowing you to continue your progress on either system. However, with the problem with the loading time discounts the ability to do this on the move. Online play (as with the PS2 game) is limited, but an enjoyable extra of the game, but until Tournaments etc. are created, this will always be a flawed feature.
Yes, there are problems, but they are in the minority against the many pluses this game has to offer. This game is as close to a perfect WWE experience on the PSP… for now. Hopefully, I will be saying the same thing about the next game- Smackdown vs Raw 2007: This Time We Got It Right!
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