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I buy every Smackdown game like clockwork every year as a big wrestling fan, but even I can't always defend their output, and the 2008 edition has to be probably the worst they've released yet, a game that looks good visually but is utterly riddled with bugs and problems.
I must ask why THQ feel the need to change the controls so often: just when you get used to one scheme, they add another wholly confusing one. Although after an hour or so you'll adjust, it is frustrating as the scheme doesn't really follow any sense of logic or the design of the controller. In terms of game modes, the usual ones are there, although strangely they are mostly tailored towards men now, and the women wrestlers can't play many modes. The main problem is that it's so glitchy, though: animations are very uneven, and the Story Mode clearly hasn't been play-tested very well because it often disregards the choices you make for no reason at all! While the Online mode should be good, it is hampered by sore losers who always disconnect, meaning your win doesn't register.
From a presentational perspective, the game is actually quite good; the character renderings by and large are very good, although as usual the eyes still look very vacant. Aurally, all of the wrestler's entrance music is on there, but the commentary is once again incredibly repetitive and they will often say the wrong wrestler's name as has been a perennial problem for the series.
Given the usual quality of the WWE games, this one's a bit of a let-down because it clearly hasn't been tested enough, resulting in a hit-and-miss product that has some fun moments but is let down by its glitchy nature.
I purchased this for £10 the other week second hand, having not played a wrestling game since No Mercy on the N64. Here are my observations - and if you like the game, be prepared, it's brutal!
1. The gameplay is pretty horrendous. It is impossible to pull off a move half the time because apparently the computer learnt from Kurt Angle and can reverse every move you make. This is laughable if wrestling someone like Rey Mysterio and he starts backdropping you when you're the Big Show!
2. The weapons aren't very realistic in their effects. Hitting someone over the head with a chair and then them getting up five seconds later isn't really the desired effect.
3. The storylines in game are pretty pedestrian and not enough to engage you.
4. The graphics are nowhere near as good as the PS3 is capable of, with character movements being pretty jerky and the motion is not smooth.
There are some good things. The range of gimmick matches is pretty impressive, and playing the Elimination Chamber was pretty fun. However, I would steer well clear of this if you are used to playing wrestling games. For a first timer I guess it would suffice, but I preferred No Mercy on the N64 - and that game is 10 years old now!
The Smackdown Series peaked at Smackdown 2 on the Sony PlayStation 1. Ever since then the annually released Smackdown series has been plummeting title after title. The currently available Smackdown vs Raw 2008 is no exception. The game features a large roster, including classic superstars like Roddy Piper and Mick Foley and impressive selection of match types but it's game play destroys any appeal. This is where we see a flawed control system which changes every year thats not exactly series fans friendly.
it's clunky, slow and not fun to use. executing any form of move using a table for instance seems more down to chance rather than skill. In the few weeks solid i played this title i couldn't once use the announcers table to put an opponent through, even though the minute manual included with the game told me i could.
The story mode is week, often repeating animations and the stories are no more than a joke.
Even create a superstar feels toned down with less options than some of the first titles. The characters you create also lack the pixels needed for the PlayStation 3's polished look and thus end up looking like PlayStation 2 fighters.
The inclusion of ECW superstars couldn't even save this as the ECW hardcore matches are lifeless at best. This is currently the worst of the Smackdown crop and if current trends continue then next years will no doubt be a whole lot worse. Avoid this like the plague and take a chance on the contender, TNA Wrestling.
The #1 wrestling franchise in the world develops more depth and strategy with prominent features, key annual enhancements and incredible graphics while making its much anticipated debut on three video game systems. It's time to live the life of a Superstar. How will you play?