|System: Wii, PS2, X360, PS3, 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. 13, 2007||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|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Pro wrestling is somewhat ambiguous. Is it a sport? Is it entertainment? Sports entertainment? No one may know the answers to these burning questions, but one thing is for sure; the WWE brand of pro wrestling is a very prevalent force in gaming. The trend started way back on the Super Nintendo, but pro wrestling-based video games really started becoming an annual affair in the late nineties.
With the then WWF always expanding and switching up rosters, every year saw new faces, new modes, and even new brands implemented into the genre. But now the WWE seems to encompass all, and instead of new faces and playable wrestlers, the focus shifted to making games that played well, such as 2003's Here Comes the Pain. One would hope, since WWE-licensed games were becoming more and more popular, they would also grow in quality. Smackdown vs. Raw 2008 for the Wii seems to want to achieve this goal, but comes up rather short in the end.
In most respects, Smackdown vs. Raw is your typical wrestling game. All your favorite stars of both the Smackdown and Raw franchises are there, and there's even a few wrestling legends thrown in for good measure. New this year is the inclusion of several ECW stars, both past and present. However, you only get one ECW star right off the bat, and the few that you're able to unlock along the way seem meager in comparison to the utter domination of wrestlers from the Smackdown and Raw franchises.
However, as I said before, the roster is not the real draw to wrestling games anymore. The focus has shifted from quantity to quality, and I have to say that in that respect Smackdown vs. Raw 2008 for the Wii is a disappointment. One of the first things that is immediately disappointing is the look of the game. The wrestlers themselves don't look that bad, but the real problem lies in both the look of the crowd and the framerate.
The look of the crowd has never really been an issue with me, simply because I understand it's not something that developers tend to spend a lot of time on. The way the crowd looks doesn't generally affect the overall look of the game, and it's something most people breeze over. But in Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, the crowd is so noticeably bad that it really does impact the game. Because the game tries to replicate the feel of the actual WWE, the crowd is close up to the ring. And you'll notice that, while most of the characters are rendered in 3-D, the crowd is rather .2-D. And to add insult to injury, these 2-D paper dolls looked like they were pained with watercolors. None of them have any distinguishing features and the whole crowd, for lack of a good adjective, looks like a total N64 affair. And since the crowd is so prevalent in the background of the game, it honestly drags down the entire look of the game.
The other issue I have is also very noticeable, and that is the jumpy framerate. It doesn't really happen all that much, but occasionally you'll get a really big fluctuation in framerate that will last a few minutes and make the game virtually unplayable. It doesn't just look annoying; the framerate gets so unstable that the images on the screen literally jump around, and it's difficult to see what's actually happening in the game.