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Preview: THQ chats about Smackdown vs. Raw 2009
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


The PlayStation version of Smackdown vs. Raw 2009.


The wrestling video game land is getting a bit of a makeover, thanks to the new THQ title Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 (or, as it is short-handedly known to gamers, SVR09).

Released this past weekend, SVR09 is the latest in the popular series which began on PlayStation One as the Smackdown line (the brand name changed in 2005 to include the Monday night show title) and now boasts titles that will appear on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. The array of consoles speaks volumes for the success of THQ and WWE’s relationship, which began in 1999 after THQ had produced games for WCW.

Throughout the years, tweaks and overhauls of the control system have been a part of the WWE/THQ series, but through it all the games have been known for having superior pickup-and-play ease, allowing novice gamers and hardcore players alike to learn the ropes pretty quickly. This trend continues for SVR09.

“We haven't made any drastic changes to the control system that current fans of the series wouldn't pick up with relative ease,” said Cory Ledesma, senior creative manager for THQ. “We always spend time each year fine tuning the controls and making sure that actions are easy and intuitive to execute. There is nothing more frustrating than complicated controls or forgetting the controls because they are not intuitive.

“We've made some slight tweaks that I'm sure our fans will appreciate and we've also made a concerted effort to add more button prompts on the HUD in key moments and situations to offer newer fans to the series a little more familiarity with the controls and the game.”

This year’s edition also features a strong amount of new features. Ledesma told SLAM! Wrestling that one of the most unique aspects is the new create-a-finisher feature, which he explains as having, “the ability to string up to 10 animation parts together and various options such as adjusting your finisher's speed, naming it and assigning it to anyone in the game.“

Additionally, the season mode is growing to include two options -- a career adventure and a “Road to WrestleMania” story. The Road option includes six possible storylines with tag team integration, while career lets the gamer choose which title to pursue, continuous a career path and various unlockables.

What else do Ledesma and the boys and girls at THQ have up their sleeves?

“We are offering for the first time in any wrestling or fighting game, the ability to replay the action in your game and record your footage,” he says. “You can load it into the Highlight Reel editor and create your very own Highlight Reel with tons of options such as graphics, sound effects, music, camera angles, etc. Once you've created your masterpiece, uploaded online and show it off to the world.”

Arguably, however, the biggest change coming to the SVR series affects one console, that being the most popular one on the market today -- Nintendo Wii. Those who got their first SVR experience with last year’s title will easily recall a very stripped-down, minimalist version that felt more like a first-generation game than a fifth generation title, especially when it was compared with its Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts.

Ledesma reassures the Wii Nation, however, that they will not have the same treatment this time around.

“A big emphasis this year was to get the feature level on the Wii to be the same as the PS3 and 360,” he comments. “Of course, the Wii is a completely different system and has its limitations. We've drastically increased the amount of match types and Superstars on the Wii this year to be the same as the PS3 and 360. The Wii version also has the same new season modes found in the other versions. We are also introducing Online Play for the Wii as well, which was missing from last year's title. All in all, the Wii version of WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 will be fully featured and on par with the other versions of the game feature set wise."

RELATED LINKS

  • SmackdownvsRaw.com

    Stay tuned to SLAM! Wrestling, as our crack team of video game gurus will breakdown the new Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 video game across a series of consoles.