|Smackdown vs Raw 2007(2006)
Available for: PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Xbox
Wow, is it already time for another “Smackdown vs. Raw” game? Must be. Every year seems to bring a new game or two from the WWE, and the past few installments haven’t been too great, with developers trying to cram too much crap into the titles to appease every last fan out there. Personally, the last great time I had with a wrestling game was “WWF War Zone” way back on the original PlayStation. This was when Stone Cold Steve Austin was everyone’s favorite dude and The Rock was merely an up and comer. Ah, those were the days.
I couldn’t tell you anything about wrestling these days, other than the fact that the WWF lost its name/logo to the World Wildlife Fund a while back and that guys like The Rock and Chris Jericho have gone on to star in crappy movies or become panelists on various VH1 shows. But you obviously don’t need to be a fan to play these games. It probably doesn’t hurt in the long run if you are, though.
So let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this game, shall we? Taking a page from EA’s “NHL 07,” THQ decided to turn the right analog stick on the game controller into a new grappling control. The only problem is that unlike the hockey game where the use of both sticks is made to make the gamer feel more “in control,” this little setup just comes off as more novelty than necessary. It does allow for a few new special grapples, but these become boring after you’ve pulled the moves off multiple times.
The other new feature in this installment is ring and spectator area “hot spots” which allow players to engage in various interactive places around the arena. You can bounce your opponent on the top rope, or take it into the crowd for some cheap action. Again, it’s a quirky feature that was undoubtedly thrown in to make the game even more lifelike, but its actual usage is often not necessary. Basically, in the end, “Smackdown vs. Raw 2007” is the same old strike-and-grapple fest that all the games leading up to it in the series have been.
It becomes mind numbing pretty quick. Hardcore fans will really get into this game, but if you’re just casually interested, there’s not a lot to chew on. There’s the same old deep character creation system, complete with entrances, movies, finishing moves and so on. You can also create a WWE stable of goons once again, and the list goes on. Same thing with the style of matches available (Hell in a Cell, Buried Alive, etc.) If you’ve played any of the other “Smackdown” or “Smackdown vs. Raw” games, you know pretty much how this one is going to play out.
The game at least has the voices of the actual wrestlers and announcers, though like all the other games in the series, the announcing is usually either off the mark or so damn repetitive you’ll want to shut it off after the first match. The backstage scenes aren’t very exciting, as they’re filled with awkward pauses and really bad line readings by the wrestlers. I’m not sure why no one’s ever really worked on this aspect of these games. Since storylines are such a big part of wrestling, you’d think the developers could put some extra punch into the stories in the game, but fat chance.
There are plenty of the usual unlockable wrestlers (like Hulk Hogan – big surprise) as well as plenty of time to sit and watch multiple load screens for each of the wrestlers’ entrances and the matches themselves. That’s another thing about this title – no one’s bothered to fix the load times. You almost forget what’s going on by the time the match actually starts. At any rate, “Smackdown vs. Raw 2007” should please the fans, but aside from the new controls, hot spots, and a manual stamina regainer (Mash the O button rapidly!), it’s the same old game. I sure miss the Stone Cold days.