WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 features unique controls and gameplay created specifically for the Wii, resulting in quick response times and a more arcade feel. Ultimate control is taken to the next level, as players can act out slams, strikes, taunts and finishers as they take place on screen. Use the Nunchuk and Wii Remote to act out slams, strikes, taunts and finishers as they take place on the screen.
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If you’re a fan of the series on the previous consoles, it’s likely that you’ll be disappointed by what this game fails to offer. The list of things that are missing from other similar wrestling games is staggering, and is one of the hardest things to accept about this version. These types of games have been in situations before where they were missing features though, and did just fine because of the gameplay.
The gameplay in this version actually makes everything about the game worse. It is based on using the Wii Remote to execute moves by manipulating the motion of it. Theoretically, it’s a good idea that allows players to get the feel of the actions occurring on screen, as they grab an opponent and then lift them, as the Wii Remote lifts, and then throw them, as you throw the Wii Remote. Now that the theory session is over, the actual execution is miserable. The actions that you have to perform to execute moves in the game don’t come across the same way that you move the remote, so you’re continually not doing the moves that you wanted to do, throwing your wrestler’s timing completely off.
The game has a mix of striking moves, and grapple moves, and you’ll find yourself unable to execute either successfully against the AI. Once you get into a match, the opportunity to strike at your opponent will come, and be quickly reversed against you. The AI relies upon these reverses, and will punish you bringing your strikes, even if you start to get somewhere with them. Other than that, grappling opponents and pulling off the same combo five or six times in a row, since it doesn’t register your different moves that you try to pull off, is nearly the only way to win a match against the AI. That doesn’t mean it’s smart, because it will still get stuck on corners and fight essentially brainlessly, it just knows how to reverse really, really well.
There are a couple of good things that can be said about the game. For one thing, you get the capability to create your own wrestler and your own move set, and both options are implemented well. In addition, the graphics are very good, considering this is a game on the Wii and not the Xbox 360, and character models, despite not being as updated as they could be to reflect current wrestlers, still are obviously the wrestlers they are appearing to be.
There are lots of things in WWE Smackdown! Vs. RAW 2008 that were done better in previous versions of the game. That means, it’s likely that they’ll be done better again, hopefully in the next version.