Without a doubt, WWE SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 is easily the best-looking wrestling game to ever grace the PS2. These aren't, by our rather uninformed standards, the most attractive men on Earth, but their in-game models look nearly as realistic as their real-world counterparts. It doesn’t hurt that it plays well, too, adding even more realism and interactivity to the series. There’s a new stamina meter, for instance, so you can’t just endlessly body slam your opponent without remorse or worry that your knees will buckle when you heave him up onto your shoulder. You’ll have to try to wear him down first without exhausting yourself in the process.
There are also a few new in-match mini-games, like timing a button press to escape, or even reverse, a sleeper hold. Unfortunately, this clever tactic has been mastered by the AI-controlled characters, who seem inhumanly able to reverse nearly any assault on their bulked-up personas. Thus, you’d better practice your own reversals or risk getting beaten down like a jobber in every match. This isn’t to say the AI is always smart, asit’s still nowhere near perfect. For example, tag matches are still annoying because your partner would rather stand around than help you out when you’re getting pounded by your opponents. Plus, as great as this game looks, the CPU could do a much better job of detecting when two body parts actually connect. You'll still see a lot of anatomy passing through other bits when they shouldn't, and it just feels cheap when you’re punching clear through an opponent, yet dealing no damage.