A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a virtual recreation of the professional wrestling programs you would encounter on television. Prepare to expect many of the same racy elements, like edgy language and scantily-clad women. Characters can punch, kick and slam opponents to the ground. Some matches allow the use of weapons like chairs, metal trash cans, sledgehammers and other objects. Occassionally, the wrestlers will bleed but the action isn't gory.
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What's it about?
THQ has had a chokehold on the wrestling genre for quite some time, and escaping that grasp grows tougher with the release of WWE SMACKDOWN VS. RAW 2009. Like previous iterations, Smackdown vs. Raw allows you to choose between a roster of dozens of male and female wrestlers and square off in a bevy of challenging matches. Some are a simple one-on-one matchup. Others add weapons like steel chairs and ladders, while some involve grappling inside a giant, steel cage.
The newest addition is Road to Wrestlemania, a story mode structured using the series of WWE programming. You'll choose one of five superstars, then guide them week to week on either the Raw or Smackdown programs. You will also prepare for major pay-per-views as you count down to Wrestlemania. Matches tend to follow the shows closely, adding cut scenes before and after matches. The game also features a generic career mode where you can lead any wrestler to the heavyweight championship. If the WWE roster fails to hold your interest, you can create your own wrestler, right down to perfecting his finishing move.
Is it any good?
Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 captures the energy and enthusiasm of a pro wrestling program with sharp, colorful visuals and authentic sounds. The game avoids the trap of endless button-mashing and uses a control system that feels rewarding. You'll use the right analog to grapple and perform powerful strikes and slams. The moves sometimes involve quickly pushing in a certain direction before your opponent counters. Conversely, you can counter your opponents to execute surprise attacks. Tag team matches are especially fun. When you throw opponents into your corner, you can move the analog stick to perform team strikes. The one drawback is that moves can be tough to pull off since they require lots of precision.
The game is incredibly deep, because of the myriad of game modes and creative options. Road to Wrestlemania is a clever take on the story mode, although you're very limited in the wrestlers you have to choose from. Players can also take their favorite moments and create a highlight reel to share with friends online. Overall, fans of the sport should be impressed by the robust package Smackdown vs. Raw offers.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.