Smackdown vs Raw 2006 THQ (For Playstation 2)
By David Simpson
It has to be said that after this game, THQ needs to go back to the drawing board.
Rather than work on the successful formula of the past 2 Smackdown! Games, they decided to go with the utterly flawed, Day of Reckoning linear story. Yes, there are a few twist and turns along the way. Yes, there is full soundtrack dialogue from all the wrestlers and it seems some (though not all) have been to voice-acting lessons. But when you can play a full season in less than an hour it makes for a very poor game. Just like Day of Reckoning, once you complete the game you start over again from the beginning. However, unlike Day of Reckoning, at least you have the choice of using any WWE superstar, but when there are no superstar specific stories (apart from the elusive 1/100 chance of getting the John Cena storyline) this still makes for limited replay.
New features and options have been added, such as the terrible, terrible, General Manager mode. This is really what any WWE PC game should be; this is really not a game for a controller more a game for mouse and keyboard. Then, at least, you would be able to download new roster members and at least loosely follow the actual WWE storylines of today.
So onto the usual.
The visuals are beautiful, each wrestler looks like they are supposed to. The movement of the characters is fairly realistic, although the fact they made Austin walk like he’s suffering from DTs (even if it is accurate or not) makes me cry/laugh and angry all at the same time. Also, there are so many coding errors to make me wonder what these guys have been doing? At one point Benoit actually buries his hands in his opponents head during the Crossface.
Sound is great, but I do wish they would mix up the rock and rap with something else. All Superstar themes are reproduced and even the classic Real American is here for us to enjoy. The usual grunts and groans are here, but I do wish they would do something about the commentary. Yes it is a nice feature, but if each move triggers a new phrase it makes for annoying listening. Not that listening to the insane ramblings of Michael Cole isn’t enough to make me want to destroy my eardrums or press mute, whichever would be more satisfying.
Controls have been tweaked to involve a new stamina system, which works well to add a bit of realistic drama to the game; there’s nothing worse than using all your stamina to take out your opponent with a well placed Stunner, only to be too weak to cover your opponent, giving them time to kick out. Tip: Create or adapt a wrestler to include a Special move which ends with a pin eg. Tombstone Pin or Jackhammer.
The longevity of this game depends on three things; How many superstars you can play the hour-long storymode with? How many friends/siblings you have who are willing to regularly play any number of matches with? And how long you can play either the General Manager mode or Challenges mode without being bored or frustrated to insanity? All in all, it is unlikely that you will be playing this as long as the previous games. In all honesty, after six days I began playing Here Comes The Pain again.
Matches/Match Types: No arguments here. The fact that it took me near a whole day to play each match type in Exhibition, shows the variety on offer. Though, Fulfil Your Fantasy really doesn’t work in any way. I often wish they would just save the space and give us twenty/thirty minutes of diva video action rather than this poor excuse for digital titillation. I also wish they’d tinker more with the Royal Rumble. It would be better if you were given a solid minute before each new participant, instead of fifteen seconds. 9/10
Graphics: Apart from the obvious flaws, these can’t be faulted either. They look like who they’re supposed to, arenas look authentic and detailed. A vast improvement on last year. 9/10
Storymode: The game’s biggest flaw. It is sad to think that it takes longer to play the awful Day of Reckoning 2, than it did to play a full season on the supposedly superior Smackdown! More variety, more twists, more consequences of losing. Tip: Seriously. During the Eugene Tag-team storyline, just skip every match. I guarantee you will win most of them and at the end still be champion! WTF!? 5/10
Roster: Excellent. All the usual are here. Plus more legends you actually care for; Hogan, Bret, Austin, Andre. Though you wonder, seeing as they were fired in May, why Charlie Haas was still here? Muhammed Hassan? Have these guys not been watching the program since August? Also my biggest problem is the messing about that you need to do in order to get Jake the Snake. Tip: Easy way, go buy or rent Smackdown vs Raw 2006 on PSP, find someone with a PSP and borrow it until you have unlocked him in that. Then transfer data to your PS2. Yes this is the easy way. Otherwise you have to either use the Action Replay disk or play General Manager mode twice. Twice? I couldn’t even sit through it once! 10/10
Gameplay: OK. I have to admit, this is still a fun game to play. They have made it harder and thus the experience lasts longer. However, little bugs with the blocking which, as usual, is a 1/15 chance, means that the game can at times be very frustrating. 9/10
Overall: Though visually and sound-wise, this is a major improvements on the last game, the storymode lets it down. We need MORE superstar specific stories. MORE consequences of losing. MORE reasons to keep playing. A good looking game, with too much potential unfulfilled. 8/10
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