WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 Wii Hands-On

Wrestling’s finest stars are back in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009, and we checked out the Wii version at the European Superstars Challenge 2008.

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WWE Superstars and Divas descended on Madrid this week for the Superstars Challenge 2008, and it was a chance for us to get behind the controller of this year’s official game. While we’ve seen the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions previously, it was time for us to grab a Wii Remote and find out how the Nintendo version is shaping up. The series debuted on the Wii last year with SmackDown vs. Raw 2008, and while it had a few promising ideas, it received a lukewarm reception. Here’s hoping they fix some of our complaints, including an overly repetitive control structure and a lack of modes.

There's more variety in what moves you can perform this year.
There's more variety in what moves you can perform this year.

Thankfully from what we’ve seen, developer Yuke’s has made quite a few positive changes in this year’s installments. The biggest change we saw was the control structure. While the basic system is the same as before--shake the remote to strike, A for a light grapple, B for a heavy grapple--there will be extra options to choose the moves you perform. Onscreen icons show a variety of directions that you can choose with your controllers, with each offering a differing result. For example, rotating the remote and Nunchuk results in a body slam, whereas a quick jerk performs a hold. This also extends to the ring entrances, with each wrestler having a number of moves available, including their signature expressions. Executing one of these with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk at the correct time gives you a momentum boost, which you’ll carry through to the match. Simple moves, such as lifting both controllers in the air, will throw your character’s arms in the air, and spreading the controllers apart will stretch their arms wide out to the side. As fans will know, building momentum is vital to getting the crowd behind you and pulling off a decent finishing move later on.

We were able to play the Exhibition mode in the new game, and there were a healthy number of match types from which to choose. These included one-on-one, two-on-two, triple threat, fatal-four-way, six-man, handicap, and royal rumble, all with different suboptions. While it’s unlikely to form the final lineup, we saw 16 wrestlers available in the game, including such favorites as Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Triple H, and HBK. Diva fans fear not because WWE’s femme fatales will also be making an appearance in the game.

While the single-player mode is a fun experience in its own right, the highlight for many will be multiplayer, and we staged a few bouts against fellow attendees. The basic gameplay in multiplayer is the same as the solo experience, but one of the appeals is frantically shaking the Wii controllers to exacerbate frustration or excitement with humorous results. This year, the character models look even more realistic, and some of the animations we saw perfectly mimicked the bone-crunching antics of their real-life counterparts. The level of detail put into the stars themselves was on par with what you’d expect from the series and the environments. Crowds and objects all looked promising too.

Shake that remote to unleash a furry of strikes.
Shake that remote to unleash a furry of strikes.

We were also glad to see that Mii support was also back in the game this year, allowing you to see your friends’ pained expressions as you dish out the pain. WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 is coming to Europe on November 9. Stay tuned to GameSpot UK for more from the THQ European Superstars Challenge 2008, as well as more on SmackDown vs. Raw as it nears completion.

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