WWF Smackdown! Review
After months and months of painful waiting, we the WWF fans have finally gotten the most electrifying wrestling videogame ever. Okay so I'll admit it, compared to Acclaim's WWF Attitude, WWF SmackDown makes playing Attitude as slow and boring as watching WCW. First off, not only does the game represent wrestling more accurately but this is by far the most amazing wrestling title ever. Since these days wrestling is such a hot and popular issue, that even this world can't keep up with the athletic soap opera. Miss one WWF show and you will see how far behind you're going to get. Anyways back to the review, see how THQ's new wrestling wonder has turned out.
Okay, so by now we all know that SmackDown runs on a toned down version Touken Retsuden 3 and Japanese wrestling game which was developed by Yukes. THQ picked up the engine, and Yukes completely re-modeled it to one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen. Who says that you need Next-Gen systems to play great looking games, the current Playstation is still capable of delivering some mouth watering visuals. The graphics in SmackDown are amazing. Looking at another THQ title such as WrestleMania 2000 for N64, it is very safe to say that SmackDown's graphics make WrestleMania's round shaped characters look like SNES graphics. WrestleMania's wreslters look very rough, and they are made out of round like structures, which by the way are disconnected from their body. So I think I proved my point, WrestleMania's graphics can't touch SmackDown's graphics.
The body structure in WWF SmackDown is beyond belief, just take a look at the screens we have and you will notice that you can distinguish height and weight between wrestlers. Then if you look at Attitude's wrestlers you'll see that their stances, height, and (at times) weight; is all the same. Let's move on to the FMV sequences that you see during the wrestler intros and the beginning of the game. To start out with, they are streaming movies and not pictures (so you aren't getting still, blurry pics), and second of all the quality in the videos are almost as smooth as regular TV quality, so it almost gives you the sense that you are watching your television set. And last but not least, the crowds, all of you probably remember the smears that were WWF WarZone and the slightly improved finger painted crowd in Attitude, well just check out SmackDown's crowd and drool for the next ten minutes.
Here it is the most important aspect of any game, the gameplay. After playing SmackDown non-stop for days now, I can safely say that this is NO Attitude or WrestleMania 2000! Gameplay wise SmackDown beats both hands down, and the visuals in SmackDown win as well. But enough of the graphics, let's get down to the real beef of SmackDown which by the way is its excellent gameplay. First of all, this is the most accurately represented wrestling ever, I may have stated that already, but I can't stress that factor enough. Everything from the People's Elbow to the Pedigree, looks so damn real. Even when you see the AI (artificial intelligence) pull the move on you, you can't help but be awed and jump around while your opponent is about to put you out of misery. Then we come down to the ring entrances, I'll admit that the streaming FMV idea was a great one, but they should have showed the crowd reactions, and the rest of the stadium, not just the wrestler and his video. Chances were, if the intros were more like I described to be, then SmackDown would have received a perfect score for gameplay.
So now that the small things are out of the way, lets talk modes, wrestlers, replay value, fun etc. Acclaim's WWF Attitude packed many modes and SmackDown needed to compete with that aspect. THQ/Jakks and Yukes have done one fabulous job with the modes. Instead of making modes that are repetitive and slightly different than each other, Yukes installed just a little over 15 unique modes. The following is a list of all the modes that are available in WWF SmackDown:
Hardcore Weapons Match
King of the Ring
Create a SuperStar
Create a PPV
and the Four Player Matches.
The roster in WWF SmackDown may not be the best, but that's because it only features the best. So far, Attitude holds the belt with the largest roster of something like 50 wrestlers. But I'm very fine with the 36 playable wrestlers that SmackDown features, besides it's rumored that there are secret wrestlers as well (but don't email me for them, 'cause I don't even know). If some of you are wondering whether or not, the Hardy's and the Damn Dudley's (I mean Dudley's) are available in SmackDown, then wonder no more, because along side of all the 36 wrestlers, the Hardy's and Dudley's are included.
We are still not done with the gameplay portion, final thing though. The Create a SuperStar feature isn't as deep as I wanted it to be. Instead of having an array of things to choose from, you are limited to choosing from the heads of the wrestlers, the body of wrestler etc. You have to choose the head of a WWF wrestler for your custom player, or you can choose from a few other faces that Yukes put in, that goes for the bodies and everything else as well. You can pick a non- WWF wrestlers face but you don't have many options for doing so, maybe about 11 original faces in total, and that pertains to every part of the body also. A few more things before I head on over to the sound. I want to mention that not only do you fight outside of the ring in SmackDown but you can also go into the kitchen, garage, stage, back stage, boiler room, locker room and more. In addtion to all of that juicy stuff, you also have dialogue included when you play in the Season Mode, so during gameplay you may notice Shane and The Rock talking quietly about sneaking up you, now that's realism!
Ahh, finally the sound, hey what the..., Where is the sound? I though wrestling had commentary, crowd cheers, and taunts. Hmm, obviously Yukes spent too much time on the gameplay and graphics that they left the sound out. Alright, so I am exaggerating a little bit, but just making the crowd cheer isn't good enough for me. I want to hear good ol' JR (Jim Ross) talk crap about HHH, and the Dudleys. But I don't hear any of that, I just hear falls, the constant music, and the crowd cheering mindlessly. If it wasn't for the fact that the SmackDown theme song, and the wrestler theme songs were included I would have most likely given SmackDown's sound grade a 4.0. And the last thing I have to say about SmackDown, is that during gameplay you have a track that plays throughout the macth (it's a reasonably good one never the less).
Alright, I'm going to get one thing straight, "THIS IS NOT A BUTTON MASHER". You do not have to wear out your hands trying to gain control of the opponent, there are simple button sequences that you just pull out. You don't have to press 4-5 different buttons, you just press two measly buttons and you have your move. In order to pull a wrestlers signature move, you simply wait until you see the SMACK logo appear, press L1 and WHAMO you've got your People's Elbow.
Alright, so after the long review I have given you so far, if you still aren't in your local game shop buying SmackDown then I suggest that you find your wallet, shine that son' bitch up real nicely, and hand it over to your videogame store clerk! SmackDown is the most fun you'll ever have playing a game, especially if you have 4 controllers, a multi-tap and some friends.