Smackdown vs. RAW 2009 (360)

THQ's Smackdown series has been hitting the same kind of wall EA has been hitting for years with Madden. After all these years and all these games, what can be added to enhance the experience? While they both feature regular roster updates, WWE's are certainly more substantial. Rather than just featuring new names on jerseys, Smackdown vs. RAW's brawlers feature brand new entrances, TitanTron videos, music, moves, and taunts. With SvR2009, I can't imagine what more they could pack into a wrestling title. It has every kind of match imaginable, including classics like Hell in a Cell and Ladder matches, as well as comparably new bouts like the Elimination Chamber and flaming tables. With a robust creation tools and various single player modes, this is sure to please WWE fans.

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Like the last several games in the series, SvR2009 has a bit of a cinematic feel to it. Cameras will shift during moves, dramatic hits will be preceded with slo-mo, and added features like the hot tag serve to break up the standard action. Each grappler has an arsenal of moves that are easily accessible thanks to the usage of the right analog stick. Standard moves are executed with a quick flick, while more devastating attacks can be pulled off when the stick is used in conjunction with RB. Outside of the standard grappling moves, a wide variety of weapons and unique attacks are available. You can put your opponent through tables, slam them through the roof of the Hell in a Cell cage, remove turnbuckles, and much more.

It isn't without its faults, as combat usually involves a good amount of collision detection issues. The auto-targetting is still imprecise at times, and a few of the character models look somewhat freakish (Playboy covergirl Maria Kanelis looks like a Muppet). It does feature a nice career mode, but the Road to Wrestlemania option feels a bit disjointed. You'll play through this as multiple characters rather than going through one cohesive storyline. Coming as no surprise to anyone who has ever played these games is the fact that Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, and Tazz will often repeat the same lame jokes and commentary over and over again.

Smackdown vs. RAW 2009 will certainly please its core audience. Wrestling fans that also happen to be casual gamers will eat this up, but the game probably won't appeal to anyone who doesn't enjoy Vince McMahon's weekly circus of chair-swinging muscleheads and scantily-clad women.

Graphics: 8.5

Sound: 7.5

First Play: 7.5

Replay Value: 8.0

Gameplay: 7.5

Overall: 8.0

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