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WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 - 11/19/07 - So Easy Your Grandmother Can Bodyslam You!


#1 Zen Davis   Banned Banned   5911 Posts   Joined 12.6 Years Ago  

Zen Davis

Posted 19 September 2007 - 11:12 PM

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For us, WrestleMania 23 wasn't just about seeing John Cena smoke Shawn Michaels in the main event, or watching as Austin 3:16 preached a sermon on whup-ass all over Detroit. Sure, we had fun doing it, but the real purpose of the "business" trip was to check out SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 for Nintendo Wii for the very first time. In its extremely preliminary state, SvR was already showing some serious promise, as dev members took to the squared circle and delivered an entertaining demo between Triple H and Cena, complete with plenty of "suck it" and "you can't see me" moments. It was early, but the game definitely had potential.

Now months later, we have a chance to go hands-on with the game in its nearly-complete state. Sure, there are still some bugs in there, still a few oddities that occur when jumping through the interface or trying to use the non-existent pause menu, but all in all SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 for Wii is a fully-realized game at this point. So the real question now is: what's changed over the months, and how does it play?
The champ is here!

For starters the game has adapted a bit more realistic - though still intuitive - control layout. It was great to see the original game run with no HUD and what seemed to be total motion control with no button usage whatsoever, but as soon as we dropped the megaton question on the developers (it went something like "So, how do you kick?") it became apparent that an in-depth wresting game can't be made purely on 1:1, two-handed motion tracking; at least not as a first-generation title.

Instead WWE takes a more practical approach to control. Players can move about the ring with the analog stick, swing the Wii-mote in different directions to deliver combo attacks (each vertical/horizontal motion has a different attack), hold A and move the Wii-mote to attempt a light grapple, or hold the B trigger and perform a heavy grapple in the same way. In addition SvR automatically determines if you're trying to attack an enemy from across the ring, and will automatically go into a running strike, running grab, or extremely powerful running strong grab by means of the same button/motion combination.

We can already hear what you're thinking, and we were thinking the same thing too. "Wait… wrestling games are far more complex than that. Where are the rest of my controls?" To be honest, some of the core wresting moves have been removed, while others have actually been made far easier. The Wii version of SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 is - and will release as - a more arcade-like game of wresting. You won't find the ability to flip over a downed opponent onto his back or stomach, and from what we can tell there's no way to simply grab your enemy and then reorient yourself into a forward/back grapple, nor is there a ton of intricate moves like apron-based attacks or even general running. It's something every hardcore wrestling fan will need to get used to.


Instead, however, there's a ton of context-sensitive actions, which end up making the game more mainstream, far faster, and - as mentioned - more arcade-like overall. We dig it so far; it's simply a different feel. Things like taunts are now done by holding C and then doing appropriate motions. If you're Cena, you'll need to move the Wii-mote back and forth vertically in a "You can't see me" fashion. Likewise things like rope attacks or turnbuckle attacks are all based on holding against the ropes and moving the Wii-mote in any direction. This makes fights extremely fluid, since you can walk to the rope, wave the Wii-mote, and instantly do a springboard lionsault, but what it doesn't do is open the game up for a ton of depth when doing it. In classic WWE games you could either do a splash attack in that manner, or go into a pin by holding different buttons. On Wii it's easier to pull off, but will result in the same attack each time.

On the flipside, however, this method of control was an asset more often than a hindrance. When walking up to a weapon we thought to ourselves "Crap, what button picks this up?" when in reality simply walking to the foreign object launched our player into a pick-up animation. This made combat far easier when back in the ring, as you can nail an opponent with a chair, drop it (Z trigger), pull off a snapmare or two to screw with him, pick up the chair again, and nail him when he gets up. Fast, easy, entertaining.

Along those same lines, weapons are context-sensitive when using them in grabs as well. If an opponent is on the ground and you go into a grapple while holding the weapon it'll automatically be a weapon-based attack. When using a weapon as a finisher, simply pull off that finisher when holding it; done and done. So in the end THQ has managed to sacrifice a slight amount of depth that only the most hardcore wrestling fan will miss - and most-likely buy the 360/PS3 version for - while enabling the other 99% of gamers to quickly pick up the game and pull off some pretty incredible actions in no time at all.
Posted ImageDon't worry... it's already over.


As another update from our last hands-on with the game, THQ has implemented what looks to be the final on-screen prompt system for the Wii version. When pulling off grabs you'll need to do the move from beginning to end, and while it isn't as extravagant as literally throwing your friends around the room or jumping into the air to pull off a leg drop it's still pretty intuitive, and the motion detection works great. Since you'll need to pull off tons of step-by-step actions the game has an on-screen motion indicator setup very similar to a d-pad icon, telling you which motions are available, and when you've succeeded in doing them. To pull off a powerbomb, for example, you'll grab the player with "B + Up Motion" to initial the move, then flick the Wii-mote up to lift him, and then flick down with the Wii-mote to slam them down. In this situation you'd get two lit directions; the up for the lift, and the down for the slam.

Go a bit deeper, however, and you'll see exactly how precise this system is. When looking at the Cena's "Five-Knuckle Shuffle," for example, there are not only a bunch of motions to do, but also options. Initiate the special move by holding A and B and implementing any Wii-mote motion while your opponent is on the ground and you'll launch the attack. From there you'll have two options; either move left with the Wii-mote to start your "You can't see me" over the player's downed body, or move up with the remote to skip that part and immediately start running from rope to rope. This would come in handy if A) you want to taunt the hell out of an opponent and have all the time in the world, or B) you're in an Iron Man match and need to pull the move off as fast as possible. Once you run the ropes and then are again standing in front of your downed rival, you can again decide to either "brush your shoulders off" a few times, or go straight to the hit. It may seem complex, but once you're thrown into the mix it's fast and intuitive.

You'll also use a combination of both analog stick movements and waggle motion during holds or when downed. When in a hold you can tweak your arms or try to power out (if on the defensive) by moving the stick in the specified way, using rotation to spin out or a back and forth motion to struggle your way out. When downed or attempting to get out of a hold you'll again need to use waggle to struggle away, though we'd like to see more specific prompting of this move to discourage constant shaking; which can feel like button mashing.

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As for SmackDown! vs. Raw's presentation, it's a bit of a mixed bag, but pretty strong overall. Character models look pretty detailed, including some fluid animations and decent texturing, though the crowd and arena detail look to be about on part with the PS2 versions, adding very little to get away from the low res look. There's still some clipping and odd transitional animations happening in the current build, but we'll have to see how the game shapes up in its final form, as graphical glitches are par for the course when dealing with pre-release builds. As for the commentary, all the expected announcers are there - including Tazz, Michael Cole, JR, Jerry "The King" Lawler, and others - and each host a few different character-specific comments, though there isn't a ton of move-to-move commentary on exactly what's happening in the ring. It's a bit basic, but again we'll see how the final product wraps up.

The latest build also makes use of Mii integration for some interface screens and heath indicators when in-game, as well as some basic IR for menu interaction. All the expected modes are there, including things like singe competition, tag team, hardcore, K.O., triple threat, and tournaments including King of the Ring, and Beat the Clock Sprint, though there's no online support included this year. In addition there are also "Create a Move Set" and "Create a WWE Superstar" modes, which we'll be checking out soon as well. Overall Wii's version of SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 is shaping up quite nicely, but we're holding off our final say on the game until we see the final version in action. For more on the game, check out our image and video gallery below.