WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 Preview

Prepare to be pounded into Diamond Dust.

Regardless of whether you think wrestling entertainment is a sport or not, it’s quite clear that the WWE Smackdown! vs. RAW franchise will roll in the dough with the assured impact of a tombstone piledriver. Even if it continues to granularly polish up the graphics and needlessly diddle with the mechanics, countless slash-fic Cena-Orton fans will wrangle their controllers with glee over the next installment. I won’t delve further into the abyss of web-fics, or I’ll scar you for life (and perhaps consequently, the other way around).

[image1]So what’s new? (Err… not much… haven’t you been listening?) This 2009 outing has two new features that, though rather negligible, might make any brawlers-in-well-packaged-strips-of-spandex enthusiasts giddy.

The first follows a well-endorsed mantra that turns something stale into something exciting: Add fire. Inferno mode is a new fantasy exhibition match where brawlers have to knock each other out of the ring, ala Royal Rumble style, into a flaming pit surrounding the ring. Every time a wrestler gets hit, the temperature of the flames rises until it hits the very-very-well-done-steak temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point you can fling your meathead opponent over the side of the ring, set a timer, and wait ten seconds - or until golden brown - before winning the match.

Rounding out the “Create A…” modes this year is a “Create A Finisher” widget that allows you to customize your superstar’s signature move. In much the same way as creating a quick three-hit combination in a superstar’s movelist, the custom finisher is built by connecting various hard-hitting, body-tearing moves together. Which moves you select as the beginning of the combination determines which moves you can glue onto the finisher – so if you choose to choke your opponent, you can then either choose to chokeslam the sucker or spin around the sucker’s neck as a taunt of complete ownage.

[image2]Within three minutes of scouring through the menus, I created an eight-hit, ten-second finisher full of haymakers to the body and knees to the face. I like making my opponents think twice before getting back up. Or if you like, make a combination that starts with an eye poke-eye rake-eye poke-eye rake-eye poke…

How far beyond these bells and whistles WWE Smackdown! vs. RAW 2009 will go is yet to be seen. Rumors of a full-fledged co-op career mode as well as a revamp of the “Create-A-Wrestler” mode are up in the air. Some tweaks to tag-team matches like hot-tagging will enhance the co-op play even more (…as if they haven’t already given way too much material for those slash-fics).

Look for this brawler to arrive later this fall in time for the holiday season.