PlayStation 2

Smackdown vs. Raw 2006

 Click here to buy it now:  PS2 WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006

Distributed by: THQ

Reviewed by Ismael Manzano

      Iíve been a rabid fan of Playstationís Smackdown series since the very first title.  But I havenít been as excited to get any of them as I was about this one.  The second I saw the first commercial advertising Smackdown vs Raw 2006, my mouth was watering.  The graphics alone looked so phenomenal, it seemed worth buying.  So, naturally, I did. 

     This latest installment offers much of the same things youíve come to expect from the series:  creatable characters (male/female), multiple storylines, depending on the character you choose, and a host of familiar wrestlers, arenas, and matches.  And when I say a host of matches, I mean a whole lot of matches.  The variety is virtually boundless. Almost every match has several subdivisions or alterations, like the choice of managers, the number of participants, and match rules.  To give you a hint, I attempted to play each match type and each variation on my day off, using a second controller for my opponent to speed things along, and eight hours later I was still on Main Events and had to admit defeat. 

     Smackdown vs Raw 2006 also offers brand new matches, fighting functions and modes to play with.  Among the new matches, you have the Casket Matchóthis one is pretty fun, and the FYF (Fulfill Your Fantasy) Match, in which two divas battle it out in a ring covered with pillows and a comfortable mattress to make the audienceís fantasy come true.  Theyíve improved the fighting by adding a stamina meter that is expended the more moves and running you do, causing you to have to stop and recharge or risk passing out in the match.  Theyíve also added moves like Playing Possum, where you can trick your opponent into a quick roll-up pin.  Itís tricky, but if you time it right, itís hysterical.  Other than that, the moves are pretty much the same as last yearís model.  As for the modes to play with, they added a brand new General Manger mode, where you get to make and promote the matches from week to week.  Here, your success depends on how happy you can keep the wrestlersódonít push them too hard or theyíll get injuredóhow much the audience likes the matches, and if you can make the best trades.  Itís an inventive concept that was surprisingly addicting, despite my initial apprehensions about it.

     The story lines are fresh and fun to watch, with actual voiceovers, even for your created character.  The announcing is much improved from the last installment, but not quite perfect yet; they have a habit of cutting themselves off in the middle of a sentence, but other than that, great job.  Each brand offers different storylines for your created character and even more diversity for you if you use one of the regular characters. 

      As far as the created characters, I was a little disappointed that they didnít improve much this time around.  Granted, they did streamline the process a bit, cutting out time, but they still donít offer much in the way of costume variety.  Itís pretty much the same stuff they had in the last four installments.  The facial morphing is better, but only marginally, and I do like the choices allowed to you this time when setting up the moves for the character.  The entrances are okay, but I wish theyíd left the customized stance, running and taunt options they had in one of the previous games; I had a lot of laughs with that one. 

     There are plenty of unlockables in this game, as in the past versions.  The unlockables arenít so interesting as the challenges required to unlock them.  My only real gripe with this installment isnít anything that they did wrong, so much as something theyíve continued to fail to improve upon, namely, the womenís division.  I still canít comprehend why, after all this time, when the WWE has so many women in the federation, they refuse to put out a game that showcases the actual wrestlers among the Divas.  And with all the old WWE legends they bring out in this game, I donít see why they canít do the same for the old female legends like Wendy Richter or The Fabulous Moolah.  I for one would love to see a little more diversity in the next installment. 

     Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Smackdown vs. Raw 2006.  Itís well worth the price of admission.  Check it out for yourselves. 

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