Review: WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2008

Review: WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2008
Review: WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2008

There's nothing like a good wrestling match. The concentration, the determination, and then the sound when a chair hits your opponent and you roar with pride right before he gets back up for more.

Yes, the hardcore fighters of the WWE are back for another round in this year's release WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008. If you're already a fan, your mind has probably already been made up and if you haven't got the game already, chances are you're running to your local game store right now to pick it up.

But if you've never played it before then what you're in for is a non-stop chair smashing, hair grabbing, and pain winching brawler of a game. Smackdown doesn't really continue off from its brother, 2007. Much like a sports game, THQ have gone back and tried to fix what was wrong with the past game, make it look better, and give it some new features.

For instance, if you're familiar with only a few fighting games, Smackdown takes the formula of different playing styles and offers different fighting types depending on the wrestler you choose. Whether this means you're someone who plays dirty, takes down your opponents by free-falling onto them, taunts them like mad, or is a showman and makes what you're doing look Hollywood and cool, Smackdown has it all.

It even has a control scheme that you can go hard at and be the envy of all your friends as you pummel them into the ground. It's a sure bet that upon first glance, you'll find WWE has a somewhat heavy set of controls. There are even videos to help you make your way through it all.

But in the end, you don't have to worry because you can put it down to faithful button mashing. Punch and swing and grapple don't mean a whole lot when you're spending the first few hours getting used to a game by beating the controller as hard as you would a wrestler in the ring.

A first for the Smackdown series of games, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008 is the first entry to make its mark on more than just a handful of system. Now, the loves gets to be spread to the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. It's more or less something you can't escape and no matter what console you have, it'll be somewhere near beckoning for you to try it.

Graphics is one area where the game is stunning. The character models are superb and you can tell that the developers had fun making the entrances for each wrestler as real as possible. They've gone to great lengths to make them so real that they become surreal at points.
The only sour point with the graphics is the crowd, an area that a lot of games seem to fall flat on. WWE 2008's crowd is interactive and animated, but they're usually the same crowd repeated in a grid that you can see without really paying much attention.

And there are other parts just like this that sort of leave you feeling like a knock-out punch is coming.

One of these parts is the commentary which isn't the best. It's not that the commentary is bad; it's not by any margin. It's just that there isn't enough and you'll hear the same words way too often. The commentators also cut each off unintentionally as the action changes.

The Nintendo DS version isn't that good either. It's probably one console that probably could do with a major re-design. With credit to the developers, it is one of the more unusual control schemes to take advantage of the DS's touchscreen, but in the same respect, it's just stupid.

Now for me, this was the first time I'd ever actually had to review a WWE game so I'm completely unaware of the things that have been removed or haven't changed. Things like season and general manager mode that have been merged into the WWE 24/7 mode or even complaints about an incomplete roster. Without knowing about this and even with the sort of flaws WWE 2008 has as well as a ridiculously complicated control scheme that can often be solved by furious button mashing, it's still a blast. The characters look great, the sound is in your face and there's certainly a lot of fun and action to be had by all. Provided you're playing it on a next-gen console, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2008 provides as much spectacle and entertainment as the real thing.

Should you buy it?: If you have 2007, no. Otherwise, yes.

Developer: Yuke's
Publisher: THQ
Classification: M
Formats: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360
URL: WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2008

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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