SmackDown vs Raw 2009 Review - 25/11/2008

The latest in the American wrestling series sets out to improve upon last year’s iteration. Will it succeed?

If you’re a gamer, you’ve probably heard most of the hundreds of sports titles that are released every year. Most being mediocre, but nevertheless, being sold by the thousands. SvR is no exception, we see a new game from the series every year, and it very rarely makes an effort to change its formula, but should it have to? SvR 2008 was actually an okay game, with a few hiccups, but on most levels, it had improved slightly, and this is the trouble for 2009’s edition.

Before I start to nit-pick at certain issues in the game (and I could do that all day!), I’ll give you a brief low-down on what’s happened so far in this “saga”. The WWE games have been going for about a decade now, and we’ve seen some vast improvements over the past 10-or-so years. The more recent SmackDown Vs. Raw 2008 added to 2007’s online features, improved the character creation mode, and enhanced the number of modes already available at the time. 2009 has introduced new characters (obviously) and included a better version of Road to WrestleMania. RTWM is a superb experience, that lets you play as a selected wrestler (includes a total of 7 playable characters - including John Cena and The Undertaker). It’s easily the best part of the game. But this is ruined by the fact that you can’t use a created character in this mode, which further prevents your male/female/gender-confused character from interacting with any of the Superstars. With this in mind, though, the creation system is extremely good. You can set the moves, taunts, stance and how each individual body-part appears. You can set the height and width of each part as well, so you can make the most ugly wrestler, or an attractive butt-kicker, it’s all down to you.

Fans will be as impressed as always.

The controls are very similar to last year, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The right stick is used to execute grapples (holding R1 whilst performing this action will make your chosen avatar pull off a more powerful and slower move, that can lead to dazzling knock-outs), the left stick moves you, Square is for punches/kicks and generally small hits, and O is applied when the player wants to push around the opposing foe. But more importantly, X is for actions, such as climbing poles, ropes, and for the first time in WWE/F gaming history, to enter the ring via the steps! The finishing system also makes a return, with L1 to store a finisher that has been acquired (this is from performing various moves consistently throughout a round) and Triangle to do the finisher on an opponent when prompted. L2 and R2 are also used, for reversals, which can be a real pain. When the AI, or a real world player, tries to make contact with you, you can attempt to reverse it, but it feels clunky, and you can rarely reverse the bigger, more damaging moves inflicted upon your character. At the end of the day, the control system worked in 2008, so obviously, THQ haven’t made many efforts to change it significantly, as why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

The online is another flagship-feature that really needed a lot of work from previous incarnations. Unfortunately, it is extremely laggy, and the frame rate goes through the roof when the maximum of 6 players enter a match. It’s almost unplayable, which is a real shame, as this time round you can upload and watch other users’ replays and highlights from their slug-fests.

That's got to hurt.

At the end of the day, SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 lends itself to be a good game at times, but too many bad issues from previous titles are present and it feels rushed. It isn’t a terribly bad game, it just isn’t the vast improvement that we were expecting to see.

- Sam Foster


Brilliant roster of fighters.


Can be great at times, and best served with mates.

Create-a-wrestler is superb.

Buggy online modes.


Too many unfixed issues that need work .



A reason to dust off your PSP, simple but fun