After six solid games, the Smackdown series on the PS2 has finally reached its peak.
While the sixth installment in the series, Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 isn’t a bad game by any means, it doesn’t fix the problems that have bothered previous installments of the series and fails to wow the crowd for what will most likely be the last real wrestling game on the system.
One problem that hasn’t been fixed in Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 is the clipping and collision problems that have hampered the series from the start. Usually, when wrestling someone that is either much bigger or smaller than you, you’ll unfortunately see moves in the match that not only defy gravity, but don’t make sense either. For instance, if someone like the Undertaker is wrestling a cruiserweight or a smaller heavyweight, you’ll see that the “Dead Man” will often headlock mid-air and will put his hand around his opponent’s chin while performing a choke slam, rather than their neck. Another problem in the game is its mediocre collision detection, which will force you to miss strikes and grapples when you’re right in front of the opponent, while they’ll work just fine at other times in the match.
Despite those smaller problems, the biggest problem in the game is its outdated roster. There is no reason why wrestlers such as Kid Kash and Kurt Angle are in the game while young stars like the Spirit Squad, Paul London, Brian Kendrick and CM Punk are not. Even newer gimmicks like Booker T’s “King Booker” role and the reemergence of Degeneration X have almost been completely ignored.
Unfortunately the problems with the roster don’t end there either, as many of the Legends in the game barely look like their real life selves. Last time anyone checked, Dusty Rhodes and Jim Niedhart were a lot heavier than the characters made for the game and the movesets given to these characters are just plain lame, wondering how much time and effort went into their creation in the first place. Not only do things like this take away from the quality of Smackdown vs. Raw 2007, they make a game that is supposed to be brand new feel dated and out of touch.
On a positive note, the new control scheme, while taking some time to get used to, does allow for longer matches and more innovation. Players that would rather stick to the old button layout also have the option of simply reverting to the old style as well. As well, the game’s graphics are prettier than ever before and the create-a-modes are deeper and give gamers even more freedom to create the wrestlers that aren’t in the game.
When it’s all said and done, Smackdown 2007 is still the only choice PS2 gamers have in solid grappling action and while it’s not a terrible game, it doesn’t tread any new ground and feels more like a polished version of last year’s game with a better season mode than a brand new game. Considering the fact that it may be the last addition to the series for the PS2, it’s a shame THQ didn’t end the game’s run with a bang, instead of a whimper. Nevertheless, fans of the WWE will eat this one up and play until their fingers are sore regardless, but will still feel the game lacked the polish needed in order to make it great.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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