Innovation & Design

Wii Steps Into the Ring


WWE SmackDown vs. Raw for the Nintendo system uses the nunchuk and remote to pummel people senseless, but graphics don't live up to the Xbox version

Wii Sports lets you beat people at baseball, tennis and bowling. WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008, on the other hand, allows you to pummel them into oblivion, thanks to devastating pro wrestling moves that you physically execute with the remote and nunchuk. We don't know if it packs all of the features found in the upcoming Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, but considering the game's arcade feel, we'll give up some extras in exchange for beating people up.

SmackDown's biggest draw lies in its motion sensitive controls. Instead of pressing buttons and tilting analog sticks to kick someone's ass, use the remote. To punch, for example, swing the controller forwards. To hit someone in the face with a dropkick, swing the remote up, and to grapple, press and hold B, then move the controller in the desired direction. From there, you can lift your opponent up by moving the remote upwards, hold them in position (in a suplex, for instance) and then drop them on their backs by bringing the controller down. Conversely, your opponent can break free by furiously shaking their controllers, so taking the time to gloat may cost you.

Like most wrestling games, you control your superstar using an analog stick; in this case, the nunchuk's, and THQ streamlined the process so that you use as few buttons as possible; so to leave the ring, you simply move your wrestler to the ropes and he or she exits. You can even perform a dive onto a hapless opponent by simply flicking the remote near the ropes.

Wrestler taunts make the game even more interesting. When the opportunity arises, you can taunt your opponent by pressing and holding C, then mimicking your chosen character's move. To do John Cena's "You can't see me", wave the remote back and forth across your face. This definitely adds personality to the game, and it also makes people look ridiculous, but in a good way.

THQ hasn't announced all of the features, but it did reveal a create-a-wrestler mode, a staple of wrestling games over the past ten years, so that's no big surprise. Whether or not we'll see General Manager or Create-a-Pay-Per-View modes, however, remains to be seen.

We also don't know the number of wrestlers that will be exhibited. The company announced Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley and the Undertaker (WWE's biggest stars), but no lesser known guys (Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, Mr. Kennedy).

The graphics look less impressive than the Xbox 360 SmackDown, yet only because of the Wii's limitations, but it does it appears that THQ will squeeze as much as possible out of Nintendo's machine. To that end, expect to see motion captured ring entrances with plenty of pyrotechnics and animated fans.

For $49.99, expect a fully loaded wrestling smorgasbord, filled with 50 plus superstars and enough modes to keep us busy for weeks, but considering THQ's emphasis on arcade style wrestling, we suspect it may cut back on features. As soon as we know more on this exciting game, we'll let you know all of the info. Till then, get your body in shape and prepare to hit the ring November 13.

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