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).
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.
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.