WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 Xbox 360
Published by: THQ
Developed by: Yuke's Co. Ltd.
Release Date: Out Now
In many ways WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 is an impressive package. The game offers a lot of modes, a lot of wrestlers and a lot of fight types. In fact you could argue that the game takes an 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach with how much stuff is rammed in here. With each release in the series, the amount of content has grown and grown. This year there has also been quite a bit of new content added but some of the old problems still remain.
The number of modes on offer in the game is impressive. There are a variety of Tournaments to compete in. Hall of Fame allows you to compete in various challenges using some great fighters from years gone by. Exhibition allows you to compete in One on One, Two on Two, Triple Threat, Fatal-4-Way, 6-Man, Handicap and Royal Rumble events. The Create Mode allows you to create a move-set, create a stable, create a superstar or create a championship. You can play on Xbox Live in either ranked or unranked fights. 24/7 allows you to take control of a superstar or a wrestler you've created yourself and attempt to lead them all the way to the top. You'll get to train your wrestler and build up their fighting skills and skills for dealing with the media amongst other things. You can also play as a GM and have various superstars in your stable.
The ECW has been added with a good collection of ECW superstars (such as Sabu, Kelly Kelly and Tommy Dreamer), arenas and ECW Extreme Rules Match being included in the game. You'll also find ECW storyline aspects in the 24/7 Mode. Eight Superstar Fighting Styles have been added with each wrestler being classed as one of the eight styles. The styles are Brawler, Dirty, Hardcore, High-Flyer, Submission, Powerhouse, Technical and Showman. Each style has their primary and secondary abilities. The Powerhouse superstars for instance have a Rampage primary ability which makes them temporarily resistant to strike attacks whilst all of their grapple and ultimate control moves are inescapable. The Showman has a Steal Finishing Move primary ability which means they can use an opponent's finishing moves against them to add insult to injury. You'll know what type a superstar is because an icon is displayed next to their name. The Brawler has a fist icon whilst the Dirty superstars have a dustbin icon and the Submission superstars have a padlock icon. A new struggle submission system has been added that allows you to use the right analogue stick to maintain your grip or break free. It's a simple addition that works quite well.
The addition of the Superstar Fighting Styles adds a good twist to the game and actually allows you to appreciate the different styles wrestlers use and find wrestlers to control who fit your personal style of playing the game. The AI could do with improving however. It does tend to rely on the special abilities too much and it's not that good at making intelligent use of the weapons that are available in some fights. Those looking to use female wrestlers in the 24/7 mode will also be disappointed as you can only use male wrestlers, which is kind of strange.
The game also boasts some technical improvements over the previous versions. The animations have been improved to blend together in a more natural fashion. There is also a Free Run Feature which essentially means that the wrestlers can run in any direction they please both inside and outside of the ring. What the game doesn't address however is the clipping issues and hit detection problems from previous games in the series. Moving the wrestlers around still feels heavy and unnaturally sluggish. At times it's more like you're trying to manoeuvre tanks around the ring rather than wrestlers. The movement of the wrestlers, outside of their moves, still doesn't look as realistic as it should do. However the wrestler models are excellent and completely recognisable but the crowd still look like they were taken from a PlayStation 2 title. Thankfully the frame rate remains solid throughout and there are no performance issues to speak of.
Unfortunately support for deaf gamers is rather spotty. The tutorial movies aren't subtitled. The commentary isn't subtitled. The introduction to the 24/7 mode isn't subtitled. In fact the bulk of the speech in the game is not subtitled. Once you have watched the intro to the 24/7 mode you can enable subtitles and the interviews and general banter outside of the fights will be subtitled. Once the fights begin though, you're back to the commentary once again not being subtitled. Despite the lack of subtitles in most areas of the game, deaf gamers will still be able to play the game without any real problems. It's still disappointing to find that so much of the game isn't subtitled however.
Taken purely on its content, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 is certainly very impressive. The character models look great and the quality of the animations has certainly improved. The new features, for the most part, work well and help to enhance the game. The customisation options on offer also add to the experience. As we mentioned earlier, the game does have its problems. Some of these are longstanding problems and probably should have been sorted out by now. On the whole though, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 is a game that will please fans of the series because the new additions manage to improve the experience.