WWE SmackDown! vs RAW 2009 - first look

Another huge addition to SmackDown! 2009 is the introduction of the Create-A-Finisher mode, enabling you to create almost any move you’ve ever wanted to pull off after watching WWE, TNA or your favorite indie wrestlers. It looks to be about as robust as the Create-A-Wrestler mode, giving you literally hundreds of individual animations to link together to form a punishing final maneuver.

When you begin creating a finisher, you’ll scroll through a menu of beginning animations that usually involve lifting your opponent. You’ll be able to see a preview of what you’re selecting in real time, so there’s very minimal guesswork, and you'll be able to adjust the speed for each individual animation, enabling you to lift your opponent slowly and slam him quickly. It's pretty sweet.

You can then chain together up to 10 different animations to create nearly any move sequence, which can then be assigned not only to created wrestlers, but also the core WWE wrestlers. You can even add taunts in the middle of your finisher, like kissing your own bicep or pumping your arm before a devastating move. The example we saw was a new finisher being designed for John Cena, who began by hoisting his opponent onto his shoulders in a reverse FU fashion. He then walked around the ring a little bit, before dropping his opponent straight down on the top of his head. It was quite possibly the most brutal wrestling move we’ve seen in a long time, including anything from the older days of ECW.

Above: Image from the Wii version

Season mode looks to be completely changed as well. Now called “Road to WrestleMania," it'll only last for three in-game months. You’ll be able to take your superstar through branching storylines on your journey to the biggest show in wrestling, and these will lead you to multiple endings. For the first time ever, there's even a co-op story mode, enabling you and a buddy to play as a tag team on your way to WrestleMania.

We mentioned online play earlier, and THQ has confirmed that the 360, PS3, and Wii version will have online modes and match types. THQ was mum on specifics, but we did hear that downloadable content would definitely be present for the PS3 and 360 versions, to “prolong the experience and keep things fresh.” We can only hope that means we'll see new wrestlers, themes, skins and more.