WWE SmackDown vs. Raw...the other white meat.
(*The theme song for Mollyopoly # 19 is 'My Time', HHH & Chyna's one-time theme song, before HHH switched to his Motorhead theme. At least Steph was smart enough to keep it...for a little while at least. I dunno...her Lil' Kim hip-hop entrance theme just didn't suit ole' Steph. But she-and Lil' Kim,for that matter-is hot, so what do I know?)
(*This issue is going to be submitted in its original form, which explains the dated-ness of it...it was written shortly after the games' release date. I took a long sabbatical, and now I'm back).
Otherwise known as SmackDown 6, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw will be hitting the shelves on 11/02/2004 (hey, just in time for the elections). The SD series has gotten progressively better and better since the series hit the PS2, IMO, and is lauded by many-and that includes yours truly-as being the definitive console wrestling experience. Shut Your Mouth and Here Comes the Pain set a standard that Sd Vs. Raw will have no choice but to live up to. I know WWE SD Shut Your Mouth and WWE SD Here Comes The Pain burned a hole right through my PS2, and I suspect WWE SD vs. Raw will do the same. I mean, hey, just look at some of the features:
A re-vamped grappling system;you can now fight dirty or fight clean; you can create a PPV or a championship belt; you have a new challenge mode; and of course...there is now ONLINE PLAY capability. You also have little pre-match shoving and test of strength contests, and that long-running staple of any Ric Flair/Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho match-the chop battle-is now available for you to use! The season mode also promises to be stronger than ever.
Well, Nov. 2 came and went and I bought the game and played it and WOW* was I blown away. Check this out:
Instead of skimping on the roster, a WHOLE and COMPLETE WWE roster was provided, a roster just as complete and relevant as SYMs' roster,with updated 'Trons, intro-themes and entrances-like JBL pulling up to the entrance ramp in his limo-and aside from some non-noteworthy omissions (read: Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak), EVERYONE who was there for a long period of time before the cutoff date (read: Eugene, Tyson Tomko, Luther Reigns, Billy Kidman, Paul London, Orlando Jordan, Steven Richards, Lita, Gail Kim, La Resistance, Spike Dudley, Eugene, William Regal, etc., etc.,) and was involved with at least one storyline was accounted for! Which rules, because I can now book that Eugene/Regal/Lita vs. La Resistance/Gail Kim mixed tag match that I've always wanted to book. Want to re-create a Dawn Marie/Miss Jackie catfight? They're in the game. Do what you want.
You can now take some liberties with the character models. It doesn't involve anything more than changing the color of their tights/trunks (which is useful for the Christians and Ortons of the world, who never wear the same color trunks or tights twice in a row), adding knee braces where needed (read: Victoria), adding elbow pads where needed (like Orton, who switches between not having them and having them, and Edge who has started wearing them again) and just general very cosmetic thingamabobs. Wanna tape up Triple H's knees, just like in real life? Go ahead. Wanna add the cross symbol to his boots? It's your world. You paid $53.61 for the game (After tax). Go right ahead. Also, a plethora of actual attires per each wrestler was added. So, if you need to run Chris Jericho-who has worn more different tights than any wrestler EVER since coming to the WWE-you can update between several of his looks between '99-2001 in his face mode; 2001-02 for the UnDisputed champion heel run; 2002-to early 2004 for the Sexy Beast run; and 2004-to now, for his updated face attire. It's only 3-4 tights per era, but hey:it makes it more authentic. Madden and NBA Live do it...so why not a wrestling game, since wrestling is primarily IMAGE anyway? Also going along with this is this new match feature: the 'I'll Shave You Bald' match. Choose to shave off someone's hair. It's cosmetic and you can always go to 'edit' and put the hair back the way it was if you don't like it. Another match option that is used just often enough in the WWE to be missed when it isn't on a WWE game. If nothing else, it keeps The Big Show current. Good work, SD vs. Raw.
Every title is available to use in season mode. Wanna re-create the Lita/Trish feud? Go on with your bad self. You can fight for that title, and pick and choose your allies-just like in the WWE-to help you along in your quest! What? you say? Pick and choose your allies? Yessireebob, in SD vs. Raw, if you are in a clique or stable, then the game will acknowledge this and react accordingly. So, if you are Chris Benoit and Evolution is beating you up postmatch, either Jericho or HBK (or BOTH) will/can come out to make the save! If you are a tag wrestler, but you're working a singles match (read: Rene Dupree or Kenzo Suzuki), your tag partner will be there for you. Hell, you can actually bring your WHOLE STABLE with you in exhibition or season. So, go ahead. Take 'The Bo$$' Spike Dudley and defend your CW Title with BOTH Bubba Ray and D-Von watching your back. Run JBL and have your whole Cabinet at ringside to run interference for you. Managers are always at your side, and are always making you $$$$$ by getting you the matches that you want. And there are different levels of stable...with some being more violent and dominant (Evolution) and some others just being generic heel stables (Kenzo/Dupree; La Resistance). But the choice to really re-create WWE programming is there for you! Because, for the first time ever, season mode is not a mish-mash of angles that were on WWE TV that year. No, in true GTA fashion, the season mode is now open-ended, a real development on HCTPs' season mode. You arrive at either Raw or Heat arena or SD or Velocity arena (when your worker gets to a level of 85 on up, you can opt out of working Heat or Velocity, it'll just cost you money and experience point opportunities); the locker room is wide open...you choose what you want to do. There is a clipboard with the names of the talent on it. Wanna just work a random match? Check the name of the wrestler you want to face. Wanna feud with someone? Just check the name of the wrestler you want to face...and taunt him. Heckle him. Choose to do 'guest commentary' and unnerve him and piss him off. Beat him up postmatch...hell, beat him up postmatch with your stable. Cheat to beat him, and talk trash. Talk smack about his hometown, if you are wrestling there. Steal his girl. Steal his ride. Steal his belt, if he has one. If the guy has 'icon' status, you can choose to play the role of 'legend-killer,' and that how that feud will go!!! Have a manager? Go talk to him/her and work out some diabolical plan. Or just run romance angles forever. Basically, do the things that you see done on T.V. There is a rating level for feud intensity. Essentially, the more things you do to further the feud, the hotter it will get and it will either negatively or positively affect attendance. Oh, yeah. Attendance. You have to play the GM role regardless of who you choose to run, and advertise for Raw or SD that week. You have to provide and price the concessions, WWE merch, etc., etc., etc. (can you say Madden Franchise mode?) The more over you become, the more merch you will sell. Also, you can choose to run EVERY WRESTLER AT ONCE in season mode, with the only restriction being that you must choose one brand to run. You're not just stuck with one wrestler anymore, however. Don't wanna run that Basham Bros. vs. Billy Gunn and Hardcore H. match? Just push 'simulate match.' At this point, it asks you who you want to go over (because wrestling is an EXHIBITION, not real sporting COMPETITION). Just pick the Bashams or Gunn/H....or whoever. You paid $53.61 for the game. Do what you want. Do what you feel. Total control. The cool thing about this last function is that it will not negatively affect the 'losers' ratings, but instead on the stat screen-where wins and losses are tabulated-a rivalry function is added. Basically, when either A) two wrestlers/teams have various matches together or B) they get into a lot of backstage skirmishes or C) one guy beats another guy a lot, this rivalry meter fills up, and a program (feud) is generated even if you sim. Of course, you can always override this. To-tal con-trol.
By the way, feuds don't end until you have that blow-off match (usually on PPV). So, if you are running HHH and you feel like feuding with HBK from WM to WM? Go ahead. Hell, feud with him for 3 years if you feel like it. But beware...a bad feud will make the crowd give you that dreaded X-Pac heat...which will affect (negatively) your overness and the ratings of whatever show you are on.
Interaction between the Superstars will mimick actual events as much as you see fit. For instance, you can make Bisch kowtow to your every demand if you kiss his ass. What's that do for you? Well, the booking will obviously favor YOU. The GM will favor YOU. It obviously works in reverse if you are a face. If the GM has a problem with someone, you can choose to 'solve' it for him. Points for you. Boos from the crowd. Heat. This = real wrestling simulation. Way to go, SD vs. Raw. It's about time.
It's not enough to fight clean or dirty. You can choose the type of heel or face you want to be. Wanna be a badass heel, or the Christian type of cowardly heel? Your choice. Wanna be an egomaniac? Go ahead. Wanna be a cool face, or the Dudley-Do-Right type of face? Decision time. Wanna run Molly through a season as a prim and proper heel? Whatever you do, Go on. Total...control.
Postmatch beatdowns are not just cutscenes anymore. No...they are actual mini-matches...but the guy you are beating down will have no energy or endurance to stand up to you, and you can beat him down unmercifully for the duration of an actual match or until his buddies (if he has any) come out to save him. From here, you can take it to the extreme of 'injuring' someone, 'pillmanizing' them, and whether they are out for the standard 1-3 months or just a week, it becomes part of whatever storyline you are creating through your actions. Basically, its SD meets Fable. The point of this is to create situations-by injuring him, stealing a title, his valet, or just pissing him off by beating him up-that add to the feud or to generate one from scratch. You can use the announcers' table, a steel chair, the ring bell, a title belt or whatever isn't bolted to the floor to cause an injury that will become part of the storyline. Roll away the floor mats to reveal the concrete floor and tomstone someone on it. Injury.
The PPVs and Championships you create can go with you to season mode, so you have the option to re-create the WCW World Television Title, and take it to season mode and cement your status as the greatest T.V. Champion of all time!!!
Real legends like Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Snuka, Superstar Billy Graham, Bret Hart, LOD, Paul Orndorff, The Million Dollar Man, Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar and Randy Savage (he's been overlooked for FAR too long) are there to be unlocked. These are the only unlockable superstars...as people like The Rock and Mick Foley are available to use throughout season...as they are technically still on the roster*. This of course ALSO means that you can have that Jonathan Coachman/Jim Ross 'country whipping match' or that Jerry Lawler/Molly Holly match that you have been coveting. Wanna re-create Vince McMahon vs. Stephanie McMahon? There's nothing on this game that can stop you. Wanna initiate a romance angle with a Diva? Hey, it can be done. It IS being done on GTA San Andreas. Go get your Ron Jeremy on, you perverted freak!
(*Or, Mick Foley is still a part of the Raw roster. The Rock is O-ficially gone now, and will continue to eeeeeeeeeeee-lectify...in HOLLYWOOD. The Rock owns.)
The new GM function puts the emphasis on working GREAT, crowd-pleasing matches for the first time in the history of the SD series. Since the winner(s) is (are) pre-determined, you can now concentrate on putting on a great match that will wow the audience and captivate the viewers. How do you do this? Lots of give-and-take in matches, angles leading up to it, reversals, stealing finishers, screwjob finishes, tandem moves, crowd pleasing things like chop battles, taunting, aerial moves, and basically working matches in a heel or babyface way. Basically, if you put care into crafting a match-you know, the type of match where you never have to repeat a move?-or doing lots of hardcore stunts, or just really beating people senseless with foreign objects, then the crowds will eventually come to love you or hate you, presenting SDs first effort to forego the 'wrestling as a sport' approach. This will first be reflected in the new match quality meter, and as you gain a rep for working good, quality matches, the crowds will start to love you. There is also a hardcore meter, for the ECW/Jeff Hardy fan in all of us. Do enough crazy shit, and this fills up, and crowds start to look for you to put the 'X' in 'Extreme.' Cut a lot of promos, and the promo-meter fills up. Now you can pretend to be The Rock and electrify those arena crowds with your mouth. This rocks, as it takes the emphasis off of winning the World title by WM and puts the emphasis ON having fun with each and every match. Now, you can really put the 'extreme' BACK into steel-cage matches, ladder matches, Hell in A Cell matches, Elimination Chamber matches, and so forth...because you already know whose gonna win. Now...you just have to entertain. It also allows you to play the booker. Think you can do better than the WWE as far as that goes? Take your shot...here.