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Smackdown here comes the pain was the pinnacle in many gamers eyes of a truly authentic WWE experience which built upon the foundations of the first wave of Smackdown titles offering a dynamic new grappling system, damage recognition and the ability to earn attribute points to make your superstar stronger. So it came as a big surprise to learn that Yukes would do away with the Smackdown name for their videogames and forge a brand new series to better capitalise on the WWE brand extensions pitting the two shows against each other. WWE Smackdown VS Raw was the first game in this epic new series allowing for the first time a dedicated season mode with storylines voiced by various WWE Superstars, colour commentary from JR and Jerry Lawler for the Raw brand and Tazz and Michael Cole for Smackdown. Players now select from several brand specific superstars and play through a full year of WWE action. The goal being to win matches fundamental to granting you a shot at the title and also to make choices which can greatly affect the outcome of the storyline allowing you to be a fan favourite or heel at certain points. Compared to other Yukes titles, For first time players to the series It can be very hard to actually gain a foothold and earn title opportunities at the WWE or World Titles as the games A.I is pretty full on. You will have to resign yourself to the fact that your opponents can just keep attacking you over and over And at times it can be difficult to get any kind of offence in, recover or get away. However, it is this element that makes the gameplay a lot different from previous games. It forces you to fight a lot harder in that you cannot just continually spam the same punch and kick attacks and expect your opponents to always go down. Matches are now less predictable and more challenging. Even in exhibition matches I had some cracking matches even with the diva’s which went the distance. I found that I could not just win matches within a minute anymore. In my first year I struggled because of this as I tried to take A Train to the World Championship. Despite my efforts I got bested early on by Garrison Cade in a hardcore match and I was not able to fight back despite my size and strength. In fact most superstars were too fast for me and would attack me almost every time I had a window of opportunity to get away. Winning really does matter here as not only do you get into the good graces of GM’s Eric Bischoff and Kurt Angle and Owner Vince McMahon but you will earn cash and most importantly attribute points allowing you to level up your superstar in various areas such as strength, technical ability, durability and speed. Also you need a certain amount of Superstar points to be able to challenge for a title.

The gameplay itself is wholly realistic with an incredible attention to detail in terms of how each wrestler looks and moves with their individual move sets and actions flowing beautifully. Combined this with the huge RAW and Smackdown heat and PPV set pieces, the intense full on gameplay and the fact you have to win win win and every match feels like an important one rather then just a generic fight. Essentially as you inflict damage on your opponents a meter starts to build up. once its full you earn a finisher icon. With this you can then use your chosen superstars finishing move. These icons can also be used to save yourself if you find yourself about to be eliminated from the Royal rumble. Provided you have at least one you can cancel it out and get back in the ring.

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