WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 Review
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A new year, a new WWE Smackdown vs. Raw game. Just like Madden and other sports titles, you can't keep a good franchise down. This year introduces a new 24/7 mode and new wrestlers from ECW, among other extras. Only the most successful, recognized, celebrated and unique wrestling superstars are inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Only the most innovative and widely recognized games with fresh new gameplay take away a chunk of each consumer's bank accounts and make their mark for the current year. WWE 2008 may or may not perform the latter, but the game holds up incredibly well this year either way.
The graphics for WWE 2008 are some of the best that you will see on the PS2. Each wrestler is full of life and has the exact same attitude of their on-screen counterparts. The models are nearly identical to the wrestler that they represent and the overall detail is very impressive! The animation is fluid for each wrestler during matches without any sort of slowdown. Matches look just like they do on the show as wrestler attitudes take over during a fight - arguing with the referee, knocking out the referee, a sudden fear for life shown through a worried facial expression. Crowds are lively, though lacking in overall appearance compared to other character models, which is to be expected somewhat when just about every audience member looks different - still this is noticeable whenever the wrestlers take the action out of the ring and near the crowds.
Each match comes complete with an expected commentary just like the real life shows. The commentaries rarely repeat during a match unless the match lasts for an incredibly long time. Conversations and jokes serve as a pleasant background noise for each match. The main soundtrack of the game is composed of rock and rap music from a selection of popular and underground artists. Some of the sound effects for a few of the hits could be a bit better at times. Like, for instance, when I hit an opponent with a trashcan I would expect to hear the sound of clanging metal instead of a normal hit sound effect. Bare-handed physical hits sound just fine.
Wrestlers are very easy to control thanks to the unique control setup and this makes the gameplay quite fun. Press the right analog in any direction to grab your opponent in order to perform a quick attack or hold the R1 while tilting the right analog to grasp and carry your opponent. Grabs and attacks can be countered through the use of the R2 and L2 buttons respectively. As an opponent prepares to grab or attack there is a small window of time to press the counter buttons in order to reverse the grab. Don't think that you can just sit back and keep tapping the counter button in order to counter a grab because countering requires a precise press at the correct time - it will not recognize a constant mashing. Just about every move in this game can be countered, so you are never actually helpless unless you are a victim to a grapple that leads to an exclusive move animation.
Each wrestler's attacks will differ depending on the one chosen and there are also a few attacks associated with whatever class that that particular wrestler falls under - each one has two classes that can be chosen. Brawler, Powerhouse, Showman, High-flyer, among many other classes can be chosen. Each class has a few unique moves and one special move that can be performed. For instance, with powerhouse, you can basically become a walking tank for a few seconds. The opponent's attacks will bounce off your wrestler at that time.