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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 Review

Developer: Yukes! Publisher: THQ
Release Date: November 15, 2005 Also On: PS2 and PSP

Tight pants, sweaty men, loud yelling…and we’re not talking about Richard Simmons; we’re talking about wrestling, the WWE. It’s something that I’ve never appreciated or enjoyed myself, but nonetheless, every year I see a few new WWE games that sell like hotcakes and receive critical acclaim. Yuke’s and THQ are back once again for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006, and for the first time in my life, I have the chance to add to that critical acclaim; this is a quality wrestling game, especially if you enjoy the sport.

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The career mode is where the majority of gameplay time is supposed to be spent. I can tell that Yuke’s put a lot into it, simply because it offers the drama that the WWE is famous for new and old rivalries, women, etc. In some of the cut-scenes you are given the ability to make decisions that change the way the story pans out, but basically it comes down to you leading a WWE wrestler through a gauntlet of matches.

Other than the Career mode, WWE offers dozens of game modes like the new “Fulfill your Fantasyâ€? and General Manager mode. The former mode features some of the WWE’s ladies tearing each other’s clothes off and the latter puts you into the fancy suit of a WWE manager. Despite the fact that some of the modes are almost identical to each other, they’re all enjoyable in some way and they’re a perfect collection for those looking for the thrill of beating men into submission. I particularly enjoyed TLC and Hell in a Cage matches, especially in multiplayer games.

The gameplay in WWE is spot-on in every way. Alongside the amazing set of matches is a control scheme and gameplay concepts that play out perfectly. Beating the stuffing out of an opponent takes only a small amount of time for wrestling newbies to learn, and wrestling pros will feel right at home with the scheme. Of course, you can’t relentlessly pound on an opponent and expect to get away with it. Each wrestler on the mat has a Stamina gauge that eventually wears down, resulting in wrestlers falling to the ground. Of course, a higher amount of stamina means that your character is more mobile, delivers stronger hits, and the like. The reversal system is something I grew to love, as it only requires the timed press of L2 or R2 depending on the attack coming your way. It’s simple but still requires a bit of talent and timing to pull off.

Visually, WWE excels on the PlayStation 2 and is one of the flashiest games I’ve seen on the console for a while. Though there are the typical problems, like low-res textures and such, the wrestler models look fantastic and the introductions are as flashy, explosive, and extravagant as a wrestling fan could possibly want. Unfortunately the sound factor isn’t as impressive. I can’t even be flowery and wordy with my dislike for the announcers, who have to be the most annoying pair I’ve ever had to listen to in a video game. They spend so much time bickering back and forth between themselves that it actually detracted from my experience.

Altogether, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 is a quality game. Whether you’re buying the console version or the PSP handheld one, you’re going to enjoy this title if you’re interested in wrestling or the WWE. Even if you don’t like wrestling, I’d recommend trying it—at the very least, it’s enjoyable and entertaining to watch hulking men insult each other and then throw each other around in the ring.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.5
Written by Cliff Review Guide