WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2009

When approaching any wrestling video game, my biggest fear is always the typically unresponsive controls. This wasn’t always the way though – I had a WWF game for the original Game Boy that played perfectly well using just two buttons. And it had The Mountie in it. With the Wii’s occasionally flimsy waggle controls in mind, I was expecting myself to be literally wrestling the controller, rather than the virtual buffed up wrestlers themselves.

So it was a surprise to find that THQ’s second attempt at bringing the world of WWE to Wii uses just two attack buttons – plus you don’t have to actually point at the screen at any given time. Holding the Z button and randomly waving will unleash a combo of kicks and punches, while the A button will set up a grapple. Getting on top of a floored rival and bombarding them with punches and head buts by shaking both controllers in a downwards motion is oddly satisfying. It’s a bit like playing on a set of human drums.

One new feature for this year is the ability to get the crowd pumped during the entrance sequences by raising the controllers in prompted ways – this builds up ‘momentum’ for your muscle head before they enter the ring.

The entrance sequences can be skipped, but only after they’ve loaded first, which is pretty time consuming. Another gripe: once in the ring, trying to change the direction you’re facing seems completely random. The 3D crowd are pretty shabby looking too, although I did laugh at a banner saying, “The guy behind me can’t see!”

The facial expressions and reversal move animations are decent. The AI can be less decent – during royal rumbles some characters have a tendency to stand around waiting to get punched or thrown out the ring.

Easily the biggest new feature though is online play. There are only a handful of match types, but you can create custom matches, a friend rooster, and view leader boards. Miis feature too – you can have one representing your character along the top of the screen. Their eyes pop out amusingly every time you take a whack.

If a confused elderly person bought you this for Christmas instead of World at War it wouldn’t be the worst Christmas ever, although you’d still be better off buying some WWE DVDs and practising the moves on your little sister. Ignore her screams – she loves it really.