WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2006 ReviewGreg Knoll
It’s been a year since I’ve stepped into a new squared-circle. A year since I have seen new matches, new faces and new additions. And it’s been a year since I was able to climb the ranks while gazing and gawking at the newest marvel of the Sports-Entertainment world. I’m an addict, so a year was way too long. But considering this sequel has more crammed into it then a fat man in spandex, it was well worth the wait.
Last year THQ made very few changes to the original Smackdown vs. Raw. This year the new additions make triple bypass surgery look minor. The most prominent one is the innovative GM mode. Loosely similar to Roller Coaster Tycoon, you take on the role of either the Smackdown or Raw general manager for an entire year. You have the ability to draft anyone on the huge roster, create match cards, build or extinguish feuds between superstars all to boost your ratings and income. You’ll receive emails from good old J.R. himself on how to improve, your superstars morale will change depending on how often you give them title shots and you can even design every aspect of the show by deciding whether you want to fill airtime with a commercial, a slander campaign against your rival show or promote a new comer. With so much to do the GM mode is almost a game in itself, providing you with a heavy but mind-clutching task.
If simulators aren’t your style and you would rather jump right into the violence, THQ has a few more new things to sling your way. The bouts are the best way to do said violence and with over a hundred different match types at your disposal it’s not going to be hard to find. Old favorites like the Hell in a Cell, TLC and Elimination chamber have returned along with the new Buried Alive match. The name explains the match, but you need to actually play it to appreciate it. A huge bulldozer sits idle near the Titantron with a casket beneath it. Beating your opponent senseless and dragging him up the mound of dirt is the key to winning this bad boy. Well, tossing him in the coffin, slamming the door shut and dumping the dirt might help too. This match can end up being rather quick but it puts the fun back in funeral.
Some of the old contests even have a few new features. The parking used to be the only place you could brawl. Now, however, you can take your feud backstage or even to a local bar and use the environment to induce pain in sickening ways. You can slam a fellow’s head in an ambulance or kick it through a limousine window in the parking lot. Crash his body through a pool table or right into the jukebox in the bar. Needless to say, no matter where you go there is going to be violence.
Though with pain also comes pleasure. The new brawls may be exciting, but the new diva’s bout makes it pale. No longer satisfied with a simple bra and panties match, THQ has evolved it into a “fulfill your fantasy” match. Ripping clothes off is optional to win this time as you can also smack your opponent with a pillow or fling them onto the bed and spank them silly to fill up the “win” meter at top. You can also choose what outfit they are going to battle it out in. Diva’s spanking each other dressed as a nurse, a schoolgirl or a French maid? Yep, that’s a good fantasy.
SD Vs. Raw 2006 also has a few minor changes to tweak the game play. Two new attributes—stamina and hardcore, a new look for blood that actually allows it to drip on the mat, design your own entrance mode and a new motivation system that completely changes how you earn a special move. Landing a finisher is no longer dependent on taunting until you have your bar filled up, this time you actually have to please the crowd. Doing something for too long, whether it’s the same move or the same taunt, and the crowd will boo you, causing your motivation meter to go down and pushing you that much further away from a finisher. And no matter what you do you are only allowed two this time. No more slamming a guy with five stunners at the beginning of a match to save time. Pisses me off but it adds to the realism.
Another thing that adds to the realism is just the sheer beauty of the game. Well, if you can call a toothless Benoit or a very angry Andre beauty you are not going to be disappointed. The likeness glimmers unlike any other. Every facial expression, every mannerism is recreated in astonishing magnificence. The auditoriums billow with a very lifelike audience, the pyrotechnics seem real enough to sear your flesh and the entrances are flawlessly detailed. The graphics in this game are without a doubt the best I have seen in any game depicting real people.
The sound is also at a stellar level. Voice-overs have again been provided for nearly every superstar completely eliminating the need for subtitles in story mode. New tracks are provided for the background music from artists such as Bumpy Knuckles, Fireball Ministry, Dillinger Escape Plan and Static X. WWE has even managed to get a hold of every entrance theme out there. No more cheesy “sounds like American Bad Ass but really isn’t” crap.
Although all these things allow SD to take a huge leap forward, one minor problem manages to drag it back a step or two. The A.I. is the most annoying thing I’ve ever seen. The tag team matches make me feel like I’m playing with rain man. My partner is never smart enough to stop the other guy from coming in to break up my pin but they damn near kill themselves to keep the legal man out of the ring for a ten count.
Ladder matches are a huge pain if you’re actually looking to have some fun with it. Superstars used to do all kinds of things. Knock people off, perform a diving move or even hit you with the ladder. Now, all they do is climb. They climb a ladder that’s already set up and they set one up just to climb it. They don’t jump off; they don’t even reach for the belt. They just act like crack head monkeys.
If a match goes on long enough, the computer will drop out of the ring and grab a weapon all the while knowing it is going to get them DQ’d but they don’t seem to care. It’s not really a big deal when you are building up experience points but so irritating when you are trying to bust through challenge mode.
Those little debacles are few and far between and really aren’t a hindrance to a game that has made a mass of positive improvements.
THQ dominates this industry and with mammoths like Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006 it is easy to see why. With enough new features to shame the IPOD, brilliant graphics, a massive roster and a fairly decent soundtrack this game is an animal. Fifty dollars is petty when you consider all the things you are going enjoy this time around. Allow me to sum up—like I usually do—with a quote from one of the many, many WWE legends. Best wrestling game out there? Oooooooh YEAH!
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.
About the Author: Greg Knoll
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