previews\ Sep 19, 2005 at 8:00 pm

WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 - PSP - Preview

Pro-wrestling has been a fixture in the world of video games since the golden NES days. Unfortunately, very seldom has the “sport” received its just due, as most wrestling games have been, for lack of a better term, crap. Luckily, a few games have come pretty close to delivering what fans have been clamoring for, most notably THQ’s past releases on the PS2. Last year’s Smackdown vs. Raw, for example, was a fun game that made for a great time even if you aren’t exactly a wrestling fan. With a bevy of deep options and some great matches, Smackdown vs. Raw shined in an otherwise dull genre. This year’s Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 looks to stick with this formula while building on it, to make what should be a worthy successor to last year’s big hit, and one that fans will do well to pluck down their hard-earned funds on.

While the roster details are still a bit scant, Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 will feature a ton of WWE stars to play as, with 63 different wrestlers. The list is quite diverse, featuring WWE divas, current stars and WWE Legends from decades past in the sport.

The main changes in the game from prior wrestling titles will involve the controls. Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 will now allow the player to control the stamina system, letting them choose when to rebuild their stamina by pressing the select button. Keeping an eye on the stamina bar is a necessary part of the gameplay mechanics, as you’ll need to gauge your attacks and work out a strategy in order to keep your wrestler from becoming weak and ineffective. Cunning use of the stamina system can turn the tide of a match, so this is an interesting way to keep you on your toes as you fight against your foes.

Another nice move in the inclusion of “possum” moves, where your character can pretend to be down in order to drop a surprise move on an unsuspecting opponent. This adds the element of surprise to a match and is a great touch for you deceptive players out there.

The overall look of the game has also been cleaned up quite a bit. The interface looks a lot more streamlined, with the momentum meter in the HUD being worked into the clean/dirty tactics gauge. You can also perform special signature moves, even storing them for later use so you don’t have to use them right away. Graphically the game looks great, a definite improvement over last year’s entry. The characters look more realistic than ever, thanks to a higher poly count and most mo-cap work for great animations that don’t look stilted at all.

Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 will feature some great touches, including a cleaner Create-A-Wrestler mode, improved online play, and a ton of new options for fans. If you are a wrestling fan who enjoyed last year’s Smackdown vs. Raw, then this will be the wrestling game to check out when it’s released this November.

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