History of WWF/E Games Part 42
WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2006
Time to look at the first Smackdown game to go multi platform.
By now it was decided that instead of giving games there own unique subtitle like Smackdown: Just Bring It for example, that the Smackdown series would now just get a year slapped on the end of it similar to the Madden and Fifa games.
This was the very first Smackdown game that was not just on the Playstation 2, but it would also see a port released for the Sony PSP. Smackdown vs RAW 2006 would also mark the end of the series being a Sony exclusive as Smackdown vs RAW 2007 would also be released on the Xbox 360. So this game was the last of the getting a different wrestling game for each console era.
There was a little controversy with a scene that happened in the season mode of this game. WWE Superstar Eddie Guerrero passed away right when this game was released. Eddie Guerrero was a tremendous wrestler and I think he was pretty much loved by all WWE fans. Anyway, there is a scene in the season mode where Eddie Guerrero is choke slammed into a casket by the Undertaker. Many people found this in very bad taste. To be fair there was nothing that THQ could have done about this. As the scene was made months before Eddie Guerrero’s passing, so it stayed in the game.
I was very impressed with the visuals from the original Smackdown vs RAW game, but Yukes outdid themselves here yet again. While the leap is not as huge as it was coming from Here Comes The Pain to the original Smackdown vs RAW, Smackdown vs RAW 2006 boasts some amazing character models. The faces look better than ever. It has been said that Yukes dropped the ball with some of the lower card wresters, but this to be honest had been happening for years, so I am not sure why people made such an issue of it here.
One problem I had with the presentation was in the season mode. The season mode here is great, but as the character models are so well made you really notice a great deal of the little bugs that happen. Such as clipping effects and wrestlers moving weird and other little things like this. It may sound like I am nit picking, but after a while all these little things do kind of start to add up.
On the PSP version I think that the graphics hold up very well, and while they may not be as smooth as the ones that are on the Playstation 2, I still think that the PSP more than holds its own in terms of visuals. I remember when the PSP first come out and there was rumours that it was just as powerful as the Playstation 2. Well Playing Smackdown vs RAW 2006 for the first time on the PSP made me think that it could possibly be true that the PSP was as powerful as Playstation 2.
One thing that got a real kick in the pants was the fans in the arena. We had gone from having a 2D crowd, to having a mixture of mainly 2D with a couple of 3D fans thrown in, to Smackdown vs RAW 2006 having a full 3D arena of fans. They are not the best quality, but it is still a nice touch and it was a step in the right direction.
The sound is somewhat of an issue. Once again there is licensed music, but the selection feels very small which leads to you hearing the same songs over and over again during the game menus. Commentary is still terrible. It blows my mind how Yukes (still to this day!) have not managed to get commentary right. The PSP version does away with the commentary and it is far better for it, if I am honest.
I loved Smackdown VS RAW and I spent a ton of time with it, but Smackdown vs RAW 2006 I am sorry to say was not as much fun. Now I know that many people think that Smackdown vs RAW 2006 is the best in the series, but I have to disagree with that for one main reason; AI. Yukes wanted to make this game the most realistic one ever, but the way they thought they would do this was by having the AI reverse 99 percent of your moves. It gets really aggravating and makes the game not as much fun as its predecessor.
Another thing that was added to the game was a stamina meter. Again this was done to make the game more realistic, but it absolutely fails. All it does is force you to take rests during a match. Thank god that unlike Day of Reckoning 2 on the Game Cube, you can actually turn the stamina meter off.
These two things really spoil the game (not so much the stamina meter as it can be turned off) the core game play is great and they added enough new features like a new momentum system that mixed things up a bit. One other thing I liked that I know many others did not was that now you could only have one finishing move at a time stored. This made you want to make sure that you waited until the very right moment to hit your finishing move so that you did not waste it. Because if you did then it could be a while before you built enough momentum up to get another finishing move. I know that many people liked the other games that let you store a few finishing moves at once, but I preferred the approach Yukes took with this game.
The season mode was pretty decent and the story lines were a great deal of fun. The voice acting to be fair was not that bad. Do not get me wrong it was not great, but at the same time it was better than what we had the year before. Still the Smackdown game was the only WWE game to be released for a home console that let you play as a real WWE wrestler and not a created one. The visual presentation like I mentioned before was a little uneven.
The PSP version and the Playstation 2 version could be connected to each other and this pissed a great deal of fans off. You see the PSP version had an exclusive legend in Jake The Snake Roberts, and the only way you could play as him on the Playstation 2 was to use the PSP to unlock him.
The PSP version emulated the Playstation 2 version really well. It also had some of its own game modes. There was a trivia game that I spent a ton of time with, as well as this for some bizarre reason there was a Texas hold em poker game. A game where you would play as the wrestler Eugene and try to make him run to the ring without falling over. These were pretty cool and made Smackdown vs RAW 2006 on PSP not just feel like a striped down port of its big brother on the Playstation 2.
Smackdown vs RAW 2006 on the PSP though had one huge game killing issue (well for me at least) and that was the load times; these were brutal. I am talking sometime the better part of a minute, and I have a high tolerance for load times as I had a ZX Spectrum as a kid. The load times are so bad that the game warns you against using created wrestlers because then you are easily looking at a few minutes before a match even starts. What I made sure to do on the PSP version was turn all the sound off and make sure the entrances were turned off as well. This did help a little bit.
There was a new mode called General Manager mode added as well, and I loved this mode. The idea was that you would pick between being the manager of RAW or Smackdown and make your brand the king of the WWE. You will need to pick your roster and decide who your champions are going to be. You need to book the matches of the various shows and listen to what the fans want. The overall goal of this mode is to win the manager of the year award. I had more fun playing this mode on my PSP. You would need to sign wrestlers to contracts and of course the more popular the wrestler the higher the price of there contract would be. So as well as managing a wrestling show you also had to make sure that you had enough money to pull off each show. Each match that you make will cost money, and the higher profile the match the more it will cost. So while you may want to fill your show with ladder and cage matches you may not have the money to pull this off right away. So you will need to start with smaller modest wrestling shows.
I do like Smackdown vs RAW 2006, but I just hate the way the AI constantly reverses your moves. People say that you can adjust the level of reversing with in game sliders. But to be honest why the heck should us gamers have to do that? I also get why so many people were angry about not being able to play as Jake The Snake Roberts unless they not only had a PSP, but a copy of the game for the PSP as well. I know that many people think this game is the very best in the Smackdown vs RAW series, but I honestly just do not see it. Still though I do find myself at least once a year firing this up to have some fun with the general manager mode.
What do you think about Smackdown vs RAW 2006? Leave comment below.
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