WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2006 ReviewCain Dornan
Wrestling games have long suffered the problem of being nothing more than a slight update from a previously released title. Its all too common that wrestling fans have been hit with games that feel too much like a game that was released only a year before, offering only the slightest update that is often barely noticeable. Then there are occasions when the developer attempts to implement a new gameplay style, only to discover that its execution is horrible and fails to live up to the hype. Despite the regularity of over-used, regurgitated and uninspiring gameplay filling most wrestling games, they still manage to sell, as thousands of wrestling fans who religiously purchase each yearly update blindly pick up each wrestling title upon release, regardless of the little differences between their new purchase and a game that they have had for over a year.
Unfortunately, THQ and Yukes latest wrestling title, WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 is much of the same. Most of the same wrestlers make a return, in addition to a small handful of new additions, the gameplay feels generally the same as last years edition and the small number of new gameplay modes are somewhat disappointing. Then again, it depends on how much of a wrestling fan you are; if you love the staged bone crunching, painful sport, chances are youll be pleased with Yukes slightly improved 2005 update.
One of the first improved aspects of WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 that youll notice is each wrestler offers improved ring entrances, which now resemble the television entrances closer than what most games have offered in the past. Each wrestlers entrance is now longer and more interesting, building the hype of the fans while they march around with their music playing in the background. Although watching the ring entrances do become tiring after watching two or three times, the inclusion of improved ring entrances will certainly be appreciated by most wrestling fans.
Another new inclusion is Momentum, which measures the success of your wrestler. The aim of this new inclusion is to punish those who play unfairly by repeatedly using the same move, which loses the audiences interest and frustrates the opposing player when they are unable to get back on their feet. If you continue to do this over a period of time, your stamina bar will deplete and leave you incapacitated, allowing your opponent to score an easy win. There is also a Stamina gauge that appears on-screen. The Stamina essentially tells you how much power your wrestler has left, with each move that you perform slowly eating away at the bar.
A number of gameplay modes are also on offer, with many returning from the previous title. There is your standard Exhibition mode, online support, and Game Mode, which allow you to participate in a storyline-driven mode. There is also the Create Mode, which allows you to alter your wrestler or add a personal touch to ring entrances. A General Manager mode allows you to manage either brand, with the central aim of the mode being to create hype around your wrestlers and put on good shows for your fans.
WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 graphics have received a slight improvement over last years title, offering solid character models and ring detail. Unfortunately, the crowd still offers little more than blurry paper cutouts. Another graphical disappointment is how the characters animate whilst in-game, as their movements are still cumbersome and un-realistic, which prevents a wider audience of gamers becoming interested in the game.
A range of basic sound effects are on hand, which range from standard slapping sounds through to the thud of a body being slammed against the ground. The sound effects are far from groundbreaking, as are the commentators who can occasionally become annoying, as the regularity of pointless or repeated comments are quite often.
While true wrestling fans will be pleased with Yukes latest console wrestling offer, if you have never had any interest in wrestling games before, this latest title fails to draw you in. Although there are a number of small enhancements, in the end its still another wrestling game that is far too similar to previous titles.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.