WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 – PSP – Review

The fighting
game genre has had its great moments in 2005 but when it comes to the PSP the
genre wasn’t exactly well represented. Therefore, when THQ announced they’d
bring a portable version of the recent WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006,
you can bet this fighting fan couldn’t wait to get into the ring. So, PSP
owners, it’s time to take all your vitamins, bring on the pain and see what the
Rock is cooking … trust me, you will love it.


It’s remarkable
how some handheld games are able to bring all the elements from the console
version and SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 is one of those games. What makes it
more remarkable, though, is the fact that the console game was filled to the
brim with many match types, a nice variety of game modes, multiplayer and even
tosses in some handheld exclusives. The WWE lineup of grapplers is impressive so
if you’re a fan of Triple H, The Undertaker or Chris Benoit you’re in luck.
Really, nothing is left out so if you love the WWE Divas you’ll have your hands
full with the Fulfill Your Fantasy mode complete with fluffy pillows and three
costumes (nurse, French maid or schoolgirl).

This year’s main
attraction is the game’s Season Mode as well as the General Manager mode. In
Season Mode, you’ll take your favorite WWE wrestler (or your created one) and
take him through a full WWE season filled with the usual WWE rivalries and
unlikely alliances. In the beginning, you’ll take part in a match that has you
going up against Triple H with Rick Flair by his side. As you claim your
victory, however, the backstabber that is Triple H and his pal Rick decide to
unfairly attack you to the point that they leave you a twisted mess on the mat.
Swearing to get them both back you make alliances with familiar faces and make
new enemies along the way in a season that’s pure fan service and quite possible
the best Season mode found in any SmackDown! game.

Then there’s the
new General Manager mode that has you playing the role of a GM as you take
control of either SmackDown! or Raw decisions as you take care of everything
from budgets, signing Superstars, creating events or even creating rivalries.
It’s a great mode that gives you a peek into what goes into the production of an
event but if that doesn’t catch your interest there’s always Exhibition Mode. It
is here that you can play through any match type and there are plenty of
returning favorites (like Ladder, Slobber Knocker or Hell in a Cell). Then again
there are new additions like the Buried Alive match that has you stuffing your
opponent into a coffin and slamming the door shut on him. You can even throw a
backstage brawl. There’s even the Create A Championship that allows you to
create your own championship title bout or a tag team championship match
complete with your own set of rules.


Speaking of
creation modes, the Create-A-Superstar is back as well as the ability to create
a move-set, your own stable and a much better entrance. The creation modes allow
much freedom and you’ll have a stable filled with unique wrestlers you’ll be
able to use in any match type or event. The bad news is that using created
characters in any event results in the longest load time you’ll ever encounter
in a PSP game. In fact, the game is plagued by lengthy load times but none is
more annoying than the ones involving your created wrestler. The good news,
though, is that you can import your creations to your PS2 version of the game.

Here’s more good
news, the PSP version gets an exclusive Arcade Mode that is composed of a good
trivia game called Game Show (with an assortment of interesting questions and
mystery voice clips), a Poker mini-game and a rather strange mini-game called
Eugene Airplane Race (where you guide what looks like a drunken Eugene as he
attempts to make his way onto the ring while avoiding hazards). Of the three,
the Poker game is the best and it has you playing an excellent game of Texas
Hold ‘Em against any of your favorite Superstars. The game even adds various
types of bluffs and you earn points good for unlocking extras.

As far as the
game’s controls are concerned, the PSP handles them beautifully. The basic
controls make it easy to pull off Irish whips, striking attacks as well as
submission moves. Because each Superstar has his or her own unique moves and you
won’t be struggling with the controls trying to find them. Of course the more
complex moves can be a bit tricky but the game’s instruction manual does point
them out for you. The opponent AI this year is also handled as excellently as
the controls. Wrestlers now tire out, leaving you rapidly pressing the Select
button to recover. Really, just about the only negative aspect of the game is
the load times.


SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006
looks amazing. It’s as faithful to the gorgeous
console game in almost every way including how well it renders the WWE
Superstars and even your created character. There’s some clipping but its not
excessive but the real graphical glitches come in the form of overly pixilated
crowds and the occasional camera twitch that makes the ropes look like they’re
constantly quaking. Then again these problems are swallowed whole by the game’s
ability to display natural character movement that makes each blow or clothes
line look exceptionally brutal.

Sound-wise the
game cuts a few of the tunes you’ll hear in the PS2 version but still leaves out
a large number of licensed tunes as well as each Superstar’s theme music. The
ring announcer still introduces each grappler to the ring and you’ll hear from
the two commentators during Season mode’s cutscenes but not during the matches.
You’ll even hear the voices of familiar WWE Superstars. Then again the game
loses the voice work altogether for text dialogue. There’s some great ring
sounds, though, and you can even hear the fans go wild or cheer on their
favorite grappler.

WWE SmackDown!
vs. Raw 2006

is everything we ever wanted in a WWE wrestling game and despite its very few
problems this one stands out as a solid grappling game fans will love to take on
the go. This one manages to cram in all the essential game modes found in the
PS2 game as well as look and play like the console version so with that said you
really must buy this game if you like wrestling or are looking for a great
fighting game for your PSP.

Review Scoring Details

Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006

Gameplay: 8.8
The solid
grappling mechanics make for a game that throws in Superstar specific moves WWE
fans will recognize right away. Pulling off the more complex moves doesn’t
require you to be double-jointed so you can unleash turnbuckle moves and perform
tag team moves on the fly. There are various game modes to sink your teeth into
but sometimes the long load times can be murder.

Graphics: 8.5

This is one of
the most visually pleasing games you’ll find on your PSP so expect some
amazingly detailed grapplers that look a lot like the Superstars. Depending on
the venue, the arenas look amazing despite the fact that the fans look like a
pixilated nightmare. There are some strange camera shakes at times but with a
game that looks as good as this those things can be easily ignored.

Sound: 8.0
The arena
announcer does a great job of making the match feel televised and the few
snippets of commentary really come before the match and not during it like the
console version. There are loads of tunes, mainly hard rock tunes as well as
some hip-hop and each Superstar’s main theme is played during introductions or
when they win a match. That’s not bad at all.

Superstars are not easy to pin so expect much grief from Triple H or even Hulk
Hogan but the great part is that it’s not impossible even if you’re using a
created wrestler. The more difficult events, like the Survivor Series will give
you your money’s worth and you can always create your own wrestling event that
fits your skill level.

Concept: 9.0
Much like the
PS2 version, you’ll have a wide variety of events to play through as well as
match types so if you’re a fan of the Ladder matches or love seeing the Divas in
a heated pillow fight (and who doesn’t, right?) then you won’t be disappointed.
The wireless multiplayer and PSP exclusive Arcade Mode are worth their weight in
gold but the unlockable legends like Andre the Giant or Mankind is what fans
will love the most.

This is what
four-player wrestling action is all about. Imagine a tag team match in a
SmackDown! Event with all the grapplers being played by your friends. With
enough superstars and the ability to play matches using your created wrestler
without a drop in the framerate, this is a game you’ll want to share with

Overall: 8.9
Much like the
excellent PS2 version, WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 for the PSP is one of
the best WWE wrestling games you will seriously want to consider purchasing
right away. Sure, the twitchy graphical glitches can catch your eye and yes the
load times will feel like an eternity but with solid controls, an amazing
variety of game modes and PSP-only extras, this one wins the championship title.