WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 Preview at Next Level Gaming!

Few wrestling games have been as successful as the Smackdown series on the Playstation 2. That’s mainly because they have a development genius making the games for them. Since WWE Smackdown hit the scene, developer Yukes Ltd has been dazzling and impressing wrestling fans for a few years now. Many other companies have tried to make a competitive Wrestling game. Let’s see, EA couldn’t do it, Acclaim Entertainment closed up shop after three bad attempts at one. Even within THQ, Anchor Entertainment was fired from doing the Xbox Wrestling games in favor of John Tobias’s new Studio Gigante development house. And even they couldn’t come close to competing with Smackdown.

The closest game is Rumble Roses from Konami; and that’s because Yukes developed that too.

So we’ve determined that the Smackdown series on the Playstation 2 is still the king. But even the king gets a little redundant after so long. And so after Smackdown vs. Raw came out last year to a good but not fantastic review, Yukes and THQ went back to work to come up with some new gameplay and some refinements to the Smackdown series. Enter Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006, hitting stores in roughly a couple of weeks. What we’re going to do tonight is give you a brief overview of some of the new things for this year. And starting next week, we will begin our brand new WWE show; which I’ve yet to name. Friday Night Beatdown might just return. Using a preview build that THQ has graciously supplied to us, we’ll be bringing you all kinds of videos and matches from the game all the way up until our official review. So while we’re getting the show together, and booking matches for it, here is some info to get you started.

Wwe Smackdown 2006
Wwe Smackdown 2006

There are a slew of new match types this year, which get added to the already incredible amount that Smackdown is known for.

There are even some matches from Taboo Tuesday which until recently even I’ve never seen. You’ll of course have the usual Single, Tag-Team, Triple Threat, Fatal 4-Way, Handicap, and Royal Rumble matches. That’s usually a given. And there’s always a ton of great specialty matches like Tables, TLC, Battle Royal, Cage, Hell in a Cell, Ironman, Ladder, Last Man Standing, Slobber Knocker, Submission, First Blood, and Special Referree.

But wait, there’s going to be more!

The 3 Stages of Hell match is back, and so is the Elimination Chamber. Did you know the Elimination Chamber match has never made it into any other WWE Wrestling game? In fact, half these matches haven’t. But wait, yes there’s even more. How about adding in a Buried Alive Match! And there is a whole new set of Backstage Brawls, not including a Bar Fight! Still not enough? Well, for you lovers of the WWE Diva’s, and who isn’t, there is a new match to take the place of Bra and Panties called Fufill Your Destiny. Remember back on Raw one night when Jerry Lawler “officiated” a “match” between two Diva’s which turned out to be nothing more than an overdone pillow fight? That’s this match. Two Diva’s dressed up as either a School Girl, French Maid, or Nurse’s outfit beat each other until their fantasy meter fills up. The one who fills it first is the winner. Not much of a match, but it is a change of pace for oogling over the Diva’s. Finally, there is a new Title Match mode, where you can skip through the BS and take on one of the current Smackdown or Raw champions.

Now as I’ve been playing the build we have, my favorite matches have become the Buried Alive match, and of course the Elimination Chamber. In the Buried Alive match, you more or less just beat the everloving snot out of your opponent, and then you throw ’em in the coffin near the top of the ramp. But as I made my way through the various match types, I had forgotten how many actual match modifiers there are. Most matches have Tornado Tag-Team, Triple Threat, and Fatal 4-Ways, Hell in a Cell added a 6-Man Armageddon with first pinfall to win. The Battle Royal has 6 types; 3 regular pinfall, and 3 Over the Top Rope. The Elimination Chamber is now either 6-Man Free-For-All, or 6-Man Tornado Tag-Team. THAT is a damn fun match, I have to tell you. Not to worry, you will start seeing many of these matches in our upcoming shows.

Now before we end our short preview (I said it would be), I want to go over some of the new control and gameplay features in the game. It’s not just about making sure the rosters are up to date and having a bunch of different arenas to wrestle in. We know Yukes has this under control. And as we’re allowed to, we’ll start giving you some roster updates, including the legends which will return once again. Before we get into the ring, there are a few upgrades to the various game modes (different than the match types). The biggest upgrade is to the story mode.

Yukes has made other Wrestling games just look silly with their story mode.

This year is no different. For starters, the story mode goes through two full seasons and doesn’t repeat itself. And because Smackdown and Raw are seperate “brands” in the game, you get two different stories depending on if you choose a Smackdown wrestler, or a Raw wrestler. And you don’t have to win each match to move on in the story like previous games. Winning and losing doesn’t change the story very much, but you do have little ways you can manipulate the story by how you talk with other wrestlers. But for the most part everything follows a linear path. But I have say I enjoy the storylines for both shows, they are written very well. And as an added bonus, taking a page from WWE Wrestlemania for the Xbox, there are no more subtitles. Everything is spoken now, and there is a lot of dialogue in the game. Every wrestler has his real voice. It makes the season mode feel more like an actual WWE show than in past Smackdown games.

Once you step into the ring, you are going to find a couple of new features as well, and a much better graphic and audio engine. For the first time, I think I actually enjoy the commentators! They are split up just like in the WWE; J.R. Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler on one side, Tazz and Michael Cole on the other. And while they do repeat a lot of they say (at least in this build), it’s not mindless drivel like past games. In fact, I find it actually funny that the commentators will actually take shots at the other show during the match. Tazz and Cole love to insult JR and Lawler and make cracks about Raw. But they need to finish up the crowd noise before the final release. They chant the wrong things sometimes.

Funny as it is, in the middle of a hardcore match there shouldn’t be a chant of “Take it off. Take it off.”

But I’m sure that’s going to be fixed. Now as for the wrestlers, the control scheme is pretty much the same as the previous Smackdown Vs. Raw. There are a couple of changes though, and it’s mostly in how your tag-team partner works. Using the left analog stick you can tell your partner who to attack, either the legal man in the ring or their partner. Now there are a couple of new meters to work with that will dictate your match. The first is the Momentum Meter. You’ve kind of seen this before in other games. There is no more “life bar” to worry about, but you need to gain momentum in a match in order to do your special moves and finishers. By doing moves on your opponent and taunting them when they’re down, you gain enough momentum to earn a finisher. You have a limited amount of time to use it at that point. But if you can remember to do it in time, you can actually store your finisher and then you can use it anytime you’re in the right position to pull it off.

The second meter you have to work with is a new Stamina Meter. If you were like me, you got angry at past Smackdown games because the first person to knock down their opponent basically won the match because you couldn’t get a move in against your opponent the entire time. But now you have to keep an eye on your stamina. As you attack, your stamina goes down and you have to back off and regain it. This is done by holding the select button. That also gives your opponent a chance to get back into the match. It’s a give and take that can balance out a match and make it more fun for you. Also the reversals are back, and a little more fine tuned than past games. There is a strike reversal, and a grapple reversal. Using these at the right time can change the entire momentum of a match. You can also reverse a finisher if you time it right. It makes the matches more fun. Even being a preview build I am starting to enjoy the controls much more than I have in the past.

So this is the crux of some of the new gameplay in Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006.

There’s much more, which we’ll talk about as our show gets underway. Things such as an expanded Online mode (finally) and new and updated Wrestler, PPV, Title, and Entrance creators. And this game will synch up with the upcoming PSP version of the game, so you can take your Career on the road with you! Starting next week we’ll have videos and more! The countdown to Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 starts now!