WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006
|WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006|
PAL cover art featuring Batista and John Cena
|Series||SmackDown vs. Raw|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Multiplayer, Multiplayer online|
WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 (subtitled Exciting Pro Wrestling 7 in Japan), is a professional wrestling video game released on the PlayStation 2 console and the PlayStation Portable handheld console by THQ and developed by Yuke's. It is part of the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw (later renamed to simply WWE) video game series based on the professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It is the sequel to 2004's WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw and was succeeded by WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 in 2006.
The main focus of the game is to bring more realism and authenticity to the series with many new features, breaking away from the arcade-like gameplay that earlier games in the SmackDown! series possessed. As well as the addition of the new Buried Alive and Fulfill Your Fantasy matches, the game also included two new modes: General Manager and Create-An-Entrance.
This game is the first time a game in the SmackDown! series that was published for a handheld console, as it was released on the PlayStation Portable. It is also the last game in the series to be released exclusively for the PlayStation consoles. It is the best selling game for the PlayStation 2 console out of the series.
A new momentum bar has been introduced to determine the flow of the match, replacing the old clean/dirty and SmackDown! meters. If the player chooses their wrestler to fight clean, he/she will be portrayed as a face, If they choose fight dirty, he/she will be portrayed as a heel. The player also has to deal with a stamina bar, which drains as the wrestlers fights; the more elaborate the move, the more the wrestler will be tired. However, this is an optional feature and can be removed in the options menu. The player has to regenerate their stamina bar to prevent becoming completely exhausted and unable to perform. Each character also has a new stamina attribute, making those with a low stamina rating tire more easily. Also included is a new Hardcore attribute, allowing those rated high to inflict more damage to their opponent with weapons.
Grapples have been improved, with each character having more specialized grapple types than the previous game's unchangeable group of four grapples. Each character has choice of three out of seven grapples: Power, Speed, Technical, Brawler, Martial Arts, Luchadore, and Old School. Each character has as well a Clean/Dirty grapple and a Submission grapple, making the total of grapples five. A new power Irish whip has been included, giving more offense to the opponent but at the price of draining more stamina.
The game includes the SummerSlam, Backlash, ECW One Night Stand, Royal Rumble, No Mercy, No Way Out, Judgment Day, Unforgiven, New Year's Revolution, Vengeance, The Great American Bash, Taboo Tuesday, Survivor Series, and WrestleMania PPV arenas, as well as the WrestleMania IX arena. There are also arenas based on each WWE television show (Raw, SmackDown!, Heat, and Velocity).
The arena crowd has also improved, with fully 3D characters replacing the mixture of 3D and 2D characters in the previous games.
WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 includes an improved steel cage match, now allowing the player to escape through the cage's door. The Bra and Panties match has been replaced by a Fulfill Your Fantasy match, which is based on the costume-based diva match that occurred on the Taboo Tuesday pay-per-view event. Unlike the real event which is more battle royal–based, this version involves divas stripping their opponents to their bra and panties, spanking and throwing pillow shots instead. In addition, in Exhibition and in General Manager mode, the match can only take place in the SummerSlam arena. 
The Buried Alive match, a feature requested by players for several years, finally makes its debut. The gameplay of the "Buried Alive" match is actually more reminiscent of a heavily improved casket match from WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, in that the player had to trap their opponent in a casket to show a cut scene of the burial. Backstage fights are also improved and now include random people (referees, officials, and WWE personnel), who can be interacted with, backstage passing by during matches. In total, 100 different match types are available.
The series' trademark Season mode lasts for two in-game years, one for the Raw brand and one for the SmackDown! brand. The objective of the mode is to win both brands' two main championships, the WWE Championship (SmackDown) and the World Heavyweight Championship (RAW). The mode features 100 different motion-captured cinematic cut scenes, real-time storytelling, and improved voice acting. Players have a choice of five original voices for created superstars. A new 3D customizable locker room is also included.
In contrast to the game's predecessor, some of the in-game legends also have voice-overs and are made playable in Season mode. In an interview, THQ designer Bryan Williams confirmed that only 32 superstars (which included legends Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, and Hulk Hogan) could be used in season mode. Some of the standard characters in the game cannot be used in Season mode. These wrestlers include Steven Richards, Ric Flair, and Eugene.
General Manager mode, which could be compared to the Extreme Warfare games and Final Fire Pro Wrestling's Management of the Ring mode, is included for the first time. In this mode, the player takes the role of General Manager for either the SmackDown! or Raw brand. Players begin by picking one of the two brands, followed by a choice of simulating or participating in a draft, where a player can pick a total of 20 Superstars. The player then allocates the championships before beginning the season. This mode goes into depth, with e-mail capabilities, the ability to book matches and statistics of how the fans reacted to the show, among other features. When WrestleMania rolls around, the General Manager of the Year is awarded, along with some unlockable features.
As in the previous game, online play is available for those with a Sony Network Adapter. The title belts (including Create-A-Belt creations) can be defended online via a "virtual WWE Championship" with career leader boards and a permanent ID system that tracks all user stats. Players are also able to trade wrestlers created in the Create-A-Superstar mode with each other online. All arenas are also available for online play, including the unlockable WrestleMania IX Arena.
The game sports a variety of create modes. Create-A-Belt is a returning feature, with players now able to create Tag Team belts. Along with the created belts is inclusion of title belts used in WWE during 2005, the WWE, World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, United States, WWE Tag Team, World Tag Team, Women's, and Cruiserweight championships. Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Championship and the WWE Hardcore Championship can also be won and defended in the game. The game also allows the player to defend and challenge for any of the titles in the game in Exhibition mode, a feature which was missing in previous games (after Smackdown 2).
The Create-A-Superstar mode is much the same as the previous installments in this series. SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 adds a few new features, such as new items in the makeup category to give the player's created superstar more realistic facial features (such as wrinkles, a cleft chin, acne, and scars). Also included are new shirts and pants, which while unchangeable in color, look more realistic (as opposed to the "painted on" look of shirts from previous games).
The Create-A-Move-Set mode, much like Create-A-Superstar, remains the same, except for updated and new moves.
The Create-A-Stable mode has five pre-made stables such as the Basham Brothers and La Resistance. This mode gives players a chance to make wrestler 'groups' of 2-5 wrestlers, give a name for the stable, make an entrance (but not as advanced as the Create-An-Entrance mode) for the stable, and customize their teamwork attributes, deciding on how well they perform as a team in the ring.
The game also includes a new Create-An-Entrance mode, allowing the player to customize a wrestler's entrance, down to details such as pyrotechnics, arena lighting, and camera angles. The one-minute limit for all entrances that was enforced in previous games is now abolished. Many people[who?] believed this was a great addition to this game, after years of requesting this feature. However, it received some criticism in comparison to sister game WWE Day of Reckoning 2 which had more options, no loading times, and was easier to use.
For the first time in the SmackDown! series, this game is also available on the PlayStation Portable. Although it is very similar to the PS2 version, there are special features that are exclusive to this version that the PS2 version did not bear. Because of this, to unlock the full features of each game, USB connectivity between the PS2 and PSP is needed.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts is the exclusive PSP Legend and can only be played in the PS2 version by connecting the PSP to the PS2. However, before the PSP game was released, cheat devices also allowed Roberts to be unlocked. Other notable differences between the PS2 and PSP versions include the lack of in-ring commentary and the inclusion of voiceovers from the more popular superstars. The only major problem seen by most gamers was the game's horrendous loading times. They were so long that there was a warning about the load times when a created superstar is chosen for a match.
The PSP version includes some features that were not included in the PS2 version. These features include three exclusive minigames that are playable from the start. All of these minigames offer single player and multiplayer modes. In multiplayer mode, players can make use of PSP's Wi-Fi functionality. Each mode allows up to four players to join in and play over a local connection.
The first minigame, WWE Game Show, tests the knowledge of wrestling fans by offering 500 multi-layered wrestling questions. The WWE Game Show covers every wrestling topic imaginable including costumes, trends, music, finishers, styles, history, feuds, and more. Most questions include excerpts of songs and have players guess the tune or players are shown a video clip and must guess the match the clip is from. The questions range from easy to extremely difficult. Other minigames include a poker game and Eugene's airplane game in which the player navigates Eugene around the ring in the fastest time.
|Billy Ray||"Scream at Me"|
|Bumpy Knuckles||"Bang Bang"|
|Bumpy Knuckles||"You Don't Want War"|
|Dark New Day||"Pieces"|
|The Dillinger Escape Plan||"Unretrofied"|
|Fireball Ministry||"The Broken"|
|Megadeth||"Symphony of Destruction"|
|Poet||"Crush Kill Destroy"|
|Ron J||"I Ain't Going Nowhere"|
|Static-X||"Start a War"|
|Vada||"King of the Mat"|
Note: "Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth in the game is a remix by Steve Tushar.
The reception to the game was generally positive, with an 83.93% rating on GameRankings and an 84 out of 100 rating on Metacritic for the PlayStation 2 version. The reaction to the PSP version was also positive with scores of 81.72% and 81 out of 100 from GameRankings and Metacritic, respectively. The game was praised by some critics for its depth of content. A GameSpot reviewer mentioned "the sheer breadth of content makes it an easy choice for any wrestling enthusiast, and quite possibly the best wrestling game available for the system." Comparisons with the game and the highly acclaimed Nintendo 64 game WWF No Mercy were made, with some reviewers putting the game on par with No Mercy. An IGN reviewer commented that "there's no other wrestling game since No Mercy that offers this much replay, value, or depth", while a Netjak reviewer quoted, "WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64 ruled as the best wrestling game, but WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 is the new standard."
However, there were some complaints for the game's limitations of game modes. Critics such as X-Play's reviewer felt that the General Manager mode "does not go as far as it should--no underhanded options--but it's a great start," while an eToychest reviewer quoted about the Season mode "for the first time through this more visual style of story has a lot going for it, but gameplay is about replayability, which is something that is sorely lacking here due to the limit placed on possible story arcs."
The game also featured some complaints from people surrounding season mode. Around the time of the game's release, WWE superstar Eddie Guerrero had died. During season mode Guerrero is seen being choke-slammed into a casket by The Undertaker. Many fans thought that this was very disrepectful to the deceased star but THQ could do nothing about it as the game had already hit the shelves.
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