4 Ways SmackDown! 09 destroys competitors

THQ “conveniently” happened by the GR tower last week to give us a better look before Smackdown! hits shelves this November. Not only were we incredibly impressed, but our expectations were subverted as well. Read on for why you should give a damn about this season’s three-count.

1) Road to Wrestlemania mode

Let’s get the big one out of the way: season/career mode has been revamped and replaced with six individual (and non-overlapping) story modes featuring specificWorld Wrestling Entertainmentgrapplers. Everybody- THQ included - was disappointed with last year’s ho-hum season mode. Now, Road to Wrestlemania enables you to play through the three months leading to Wrestlemania as either Triple H, CM Punk, Undertaker, John Cena, Chris Jericho and, in either single or co-op play, Batista and Rey Mysterio.

We were disappointed to hear this at first, considering we were just recently underwhelmed by TNA’s non-branching story mode and theidea thatwe wouldn’t be able to take our created wrestlers through the mode. THQ calmed our fears on the latter, cryptically alluding to a new unannounced feature. On the other hand, once we got a good look at Jericho’s story in action, our fears were alleviated.

After a hilarious introduction to Jericho, RAW started with all the fireworks, credits and camera angles we’ve been accustomed to seeing on TV. After winning a quick match against Jeff Hardy, Jericho’s “Save_Us” TitanTron entrance video went on the fritz, displaying the message “Terminate Jericho.” This completely shocked us, as this type of storytelling is usually reserved for television.

Immediately, we began to warm to this character-specific storyline, rather than an all-encompassing and ultimately boring regular season mode. THQ promises 5-6 hours of gameplay per story, ultimately creating about 30 hours of gameplay just from Road to Wrestlemania alone.