With the controller loosely held in my hand, I watched the tag-team matchup of Triple H and Ric Flair versus the Undertaker and Hulk Hogan that I had staged, complete with promotions, in an attempt to boost Raw's sagging ratings. I watched as both sides tried to outsmart the referee, charging into the ring when his back was turned, grabbing at opponents from other side of the ropes, and bringing chairs and other weapons of mass punishment into play at every opportunity. I laughed when the ref laid out a suplex on a superstar he was tired of arguing with, and cheered when the Nature Boy caught both enemies with the heels of his boots just as they went for the tag.
It Was My Own PPV and Was
Nearly as Exciting as the Real Thing
Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 lets you play as well. Long time wrestling developer Yuke's have taken everything they've done with the genre so far as a foundation to give the player as much control over this brutal ballet as possible, short of being born Vince McMahon. A large updated roster of the greats and not so greats from both programs has been included, with startling life-like likenesses, showboating entrances, and patented signature moves. Some things never get old, which is why a number of legends have been included with all the personality of their glory days, from three flavors of Hulk Hogan to the animal lover Jake "the Snake" Roberts, the wrestling heroes of the past are available not just for exhibition but for most game modes.
In modes, Smackdown 2k6 weighs in heavier than Andre the Giant. If you're just looking for a quick match, exhibition has almost every style of mat-smacking action you can think of, from plain one on one to thirty man elimination matches, including support for up to six players that you can bash, headlock, and choke slam to victory. If you don't have five friends handy, you can take your skills online for some truly fierce competition. In the main modes, you assume the mantle of your favorite wrestler as he earns cash and fame in one of several unique storylines, relive the blood, sweat, and cheers of historic Pay Per Views, or become a general manager to turn either Smackdown or Raw into the number one source of sports entertainment.
General Manager mode deserves further explanation. After choosing Smackdown or Raw, you're handed a wad of cash and a stable full of WWE superstars, with the goal of killing your rival show in the ratings and earning the coveted "GM of the Year" award. Easier said than done. Each week you've got to put together a knock out program that'll leave fans begging for more, at the same time keeping an eye on your finances and the fatigue levels of your wrestlers. Pull off too many high-cost events and you'll soon be in the red, while pushing your more popular superstars to the limit is a sure way of getting them injured and unable to compete for weeks at a time. Thankfully, J.D. has got some tips on how to keep a successful show on track, by creating rivalries between big names, and selling advertising space for increased revenue. After a few weeks, you start to get a feeling for what the people want and your ratings begin to rise, though it would have been nicer if there were more detailed reports on fan's desires.
You don't just have to arrange. While you can have the game simulate all the matches or let the AI just go at it in watch mode, there's always the option of getting down and dirty by taking control of one of these superstars yourself, which is the best way to boost someone with a sagging popularity or just to keep a match from running too long and losing the interest of the audience. At the end of the event, your matches are rated for fan appeal, and the highlights from both Smackdown and Raw are chosen. One minor disappointment is none of the promos are shown, when something like a mock commercial or a staged rivalry could really add flavor to the whole experience, keeping it from being just match after match. It's hard to complain too much when this mode can be taken on against a friend, or tackled against an AI that shows no mercy.