|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, 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 9, 2008||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
Although the WWE first came to the current-gen systems last year, it was definitely a rough transition. With barebones features and a story mode that many fans considered to be a step backward for the series as a whole, last year's title was more than just mildly disappointing. However, it looks like this year's title not only reversed last year's backward trend but has made a number of great improvements to SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 to make it one of the best WWE titles I have seen in awhile.
The main mode this time around is the Road to Wrestlemania. This single-player mode allows you to follow the career of one of a select group of superstar wrestlers as they fight to make it to the big show. Each of the featured characters has an all-new storyline that includes several over-the-top twists and turns that fans will surely appreciate. In addition to following the storyline matches, the Road to Wrestlemania mode also includes optional objectives and matches that extend to playtime of the different modes.
But, if your chosen superstar is not featured in the Road to Wrestlemania mode, or you are looking for a change of pace, there is also a more generic Career mode that can be played through with any wrestler you choose. Although there is no steadfast storyline in the career mode, this single-player mode does give you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of opponents and interaction, and it represents a more classic single-player approach that fans have grown accustomed to.
Of course, WWE titles are seldom defined by their single-player modes and this definitely holds true in SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009. By far, the most improved facet of this year's iteration is the extremely deep Exhibition mode. This mode allows you to choose from over seventy different types of matches in seven different categories, which include the classic one-on-one, two-on two, Triple Threat, Fatal Four-Way, Six-Man, and Royal Rumble. In addition to big name standards like the ladder match or steel cage match, there are also specialty matches like the Inferno, where you have to satisfy certain requirements before the match can officially end.
Another facet of this game that longtime fans will definitely appreciate is the My WWE feature, which allows you to customize your current character roster. You are able to change their brand affiliation, character attributes, and even current titles in order to keep up with the ever-changing roster of the WWE.
One area where SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009 really excels above previous entries, and above many other fighting-style games in general, is in the creation area. This title not only lets you create and customize your own wrestler, but you can also create custom move sets, entrances, and finishers that can be applied to WWE superstars as well as user-created characters. All of the create modes are very intuitive, and the Create-a-Finisher is especially deep and allows fans to take up to ten of their favorite wrestling moves and string them together to create the ultimate finisher.
In addition to these create modes, there is also a Highlight Video creation feature, which allows you to take saved footage from previous matches and use a surprisingly deep video editor to create you're own highlight reel. The video editor tool allows you to cut and insert different video clips and lets you add sound effects, music, graphics, and filters. Making highlight reels is one of the most surprisingly good features about SmackDown! Vs. Raw 2009, and I found myself really immersed in making new videos.