ReviewWWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008


WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008

Publisher: THQ

Release Date: 11/17/2009

ESRB: T

Genre: wrestling
Setting: sports

The life of a WWE Superstar is not an easy one. You have to train hard. You have to deal with constant injuries. You have to work hard to earn the respect of fans and peers. And once you've done all that, you have to make a name for yourself and climb the ranks to make your way to the top and become the WWE Champion. Fortunately, there's now an easier way to do it, and that way is Raw vs. Smackdown 2008.

The main focus of Raw vs. Smackdown 2008 is the WWE 24/7 mode. A WWE Superstar's schedule is an arduous one. "Raw" is on Mondays, and "Smackdown" is on Fridays, but that doesn't mean wrestlers get the rest of the time off. Their schedules are filled with promotions, signings, interview tapings and workouts. And the fans aren't very understanding if you want to take a day off to get pampered. There are four different options for off days: Training Exercises, Skill Improvement, Events & Activities, and Invade.

The Training Exercises are mini-matches that focus on a certain characteristic and task. For example, to help build speed, you have to do a certain number of diving attacks in the allotted time. You also can simulate these matches if you don't want to take the time on them but still want the characteristic increase. The Skill Improvement requires you to spend some of your hard-earned cash for various improvements. You can improve your microphone skills, on-camera skills, pain management and so on. For Events & Activities, you can do several different things that can improve your popularity, such as autograph signings, movie roles and press conferences. All of these things will add to your superstar's fatigue, but that's just part of the deal of being a pro-wrestler. You can take a day off for R&R as an event, but you'll lose a lot of your fans.

The final option is to invade another show. If you're a "Raw" wrestler, but it's a "Smackdown" night, you can invade the show. You interfere in one of the matches, attacking the stars, messing with the refs and so on. This type of attitude can help boost your rating with the fans. But "Raw" and "Smackdown" aren't the only wrestling brands out there. "Extreme Championship Wrestling" is tired of being put on the back burner. Throughout the game, "ECW" wrestlers will invade your show and cause untold problems, giving you a new pool of opponents.

There is a variety of different styles that wrestlers can have, and style will greatly affect abilities. This includes Brawler, Hardcore, High Flyer and others. Each style opens a different base of moves for the wrestler and also allows them to use a variety of style-specific special moves. One style can cheat, using the referee as a shield or keeping submission moves on longer than allowed or even removing the cover on the turnbuckle. Another can power out of a pin by tossing his opponent off him. My personal favorite was the Brawler style's Fists of Fury maneuver, which allows you to deliver a punishing series of punches and head butts to your opponent. It's absolutely brutal.

One of my favorite parts of the Raw vs. Smackdown series has always been the character creation, and this version adds some nice new features. The ability to completely customize your entrance is really cool. I was amazed at the level of detail you can add. The style of walk, the camera angles, the lighting and the addition of fireworks are just some of the aspects you can control. I was even able to slow down the movements to time my additions perfectly. Just as my wrestler lifted his arms in a show of bravado, fireworks erupted from the roof, showering him in sparks. It was perfect. In the future, I would love to see the addition of a finishing-move creator. It's hard to find a unique move to use as a finisher, especially when you're just starting.

Instead of being a wrestler, you also can play WWE 24/7 in General manager mode. Rather than getting into the nitty-gritty of fighting, you are in charge of the whole promotion. It's up to you to schedule programming and matches. You need to make things interesting to make sure that your brand becomes the dominant one in sports entertainment. Of course, that's never easy when you have to deal with the personalities of your superstars and competition that is just as determined as you are. This provides an interesting alternative to just straight wrestling matches all the time.

As an alternative to playing in the WWE 24/7 mode, you also can play a selection of classic matches in Hall of Fame mode. You can relive Shawn Michaels' 30-man Royal Rumble win, or Mick Foley versus the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match. These are a great addition. They let you play a part in some of the greatest WWE matches in history and also provide a nice, quick alternative to the more involved modes of the game.

I only have a few complaints about Raw vs. Smackdown 2008. The difficulty level is beginning to get a bit steep for me. My opponents are far better at reversing my attacks than I could ever hope to be. In addition, I seem to get stuck in ruts where I'll just perform the same move over and over. It can definitely get frustrating. I can be in control of 90 percent of a match, and a single reversal will mark the end. My opponent will go on an unstoppable streak, nail a finisher and knock me out of the running.

While the basic gameplay remains more or less the same from year to year, the Raw vs. Smackdown series gets better every year. The graphics are amazing, the character models look more realistic and they continue to tweak the fine points of the game. So check out Raw vs. Smackdown 2008 and live the life of a WWE Superstar the easy way.

Other Articles By This Author

About the Author, Jake Burket (A.K.A Diesel)

I’ve always loved video games. I don’t know why, but they’ve always fascinated me. When I was younger, if I visited someone who had an Atari, that was all I wanted to do. It was a glorious day when I finally got my very own Nintendo.

I like a wide variety of games. I’m great at action and rpg games. I tend to be too much of a perfectionist with first person shooters and stealth games. I’ll spend 20 minutes in a level, only to reset it the first time a guard sees me. Platformers aren’t really my thing, I think the technology has better things to offer than that now. And I don’t do sports games.

I love games with a good story. I’ll play for hours just trying to get to the next plot twist. In a perfect world, I’d be writing my own video games someday