PS2 Game Reviews: WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It Review

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WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It Review

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Graphics:

 

7.9

Gameplay:

 

8.3

Sound:

 

3.0

Control:

 

7.5

Replay Value:

 

9.0

Overall Rating:       7.9

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Release Date:

When Acclaim originally developed WWF Warzone and Attitude for PSOne, game critics were impressed by the level of detail that both titles featured. But soon enough Acclaim's WWF titles grew old and severely lacked one thing; speed! After handing the WWF license down to THQ, many -including myself- were worried for future WWF games. After all, it's no secret that THQ's WCW titles were...well... bad. But, lo and behold THQ and a Japanese developer of the wrestling franchise Touken Retsuden, Yukes, delivered WWF Smackdown. Gracing itself exclusively on the Playstation console, WWF Smackdown! became the best wrestling game to date. With amazing gameplay and visuals to back it up, Smackdown was one hell of a package, despite the lack of commentary (although it seemed like the vast majority didn't mind too much). Just eight months later we saw a sequel to Smackdown, and it was even better than the first one was! With sharper visuals, and deeper, more diverse gameplay overall, it became obvious why both Smackdown titles sold more than 1 million copies each. Appearing at E3 for the first time, WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It looked a bit rough, and I was instantly disappointed. But as time progressed, Yukes was able to substantially make the game look better, in comparison to what we first saw at E3.

Visually speaking, WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It is a very good-looking title, although it does need work in some areas. The skin texturing needs some work, as do some of the bodies. When in comparison to the WWF Raw is War title for the Xbox, Smackdown's wrestlers look somewhat lackluster. Perhaps what they need is more muscle definition. The in-game wrestlers don't do justice to their real-life counterparts. Wrestlers such as The Rock, Chris Jericho, and Stone Cold are all very physically built men, but their outward appearance in Just Bring It just doesn't show it. Albeit, a wrestler such as The Undertaker doesn't really have much muscle definition (in real life), which makes his Smackdown counterpart look more realistic. I highly suggest Yukes does something with the bodies, and also the hair factor is a must. The sprite-esque choppy hair just doesn't look right, it's the exact same quality as that of in the Playstation titles and that's quite annoying. But nevertheless, even though they lack a whole lot of muscle definition, the wrestlers in Just Bring It still look good as a whole. Their animations are well done, and pretty much the whole roster of wrestlers resembles their actual WWF counterpart, facially. 

As far as the stadium detail goes, every arena has thousands of polygons packed into it, complete with backstage rooms and the whole nine. Extra features such as a separating crowd is a great inclusion, which now allows going into the stands and laying the smackdown on your opponent, while a fan is barely arms length away from you. The crowd detail is once again very minimal. They're either made up of sprites or just a polygon or two, which isn't very impressive. My complaint with the graphics is that I know this is not the best the PS2 can do! Just look at Square's All-Star Pro Wrestling 2 (Japan only) game, the visuals are downright the best in a wrestling game to date! They rival those found in the Xbox WWF title Raw is War. Things just don't seem all too different with JBI. Fans looking for a true next-generation visual overhaul may be somewhat disappointed, as the wrestlers sport no more than 800-900 polygons each, and also have some annoying joint clipping issues. That really does pale in comparison to Square's wrestler, as it features nearly 2000 polygons per model. Just Bring It is a pretty looking title, but nowhere near as pretty as it could've been with the usage of a new game engine. Just a little word of advice: the Touken Retsuden 3 engine was great for the 32-bit era, but using it on a console like the PS2 just isn't smart. The Smackdown series needs a fresh and an all-new game engine. 

Just Bring It will still play as the originals have, but this time Yukes is cramming the game with features. For starters there will be dozens upon dozens of arenas to fight in, including: SmackDown! Arena, Outside Lobby, Plaza, Raw Is War Arena, PPV Arenas (i.e. Summerslam, No Mercy, Wrestlemania), Parking Garage, Boiler Room, WWF New York, WWF Times Square (sweet!) and etc. The backstage meetings with other wrestlers will also feature a little more depth. There are dozens upon dozens of game match types and many different modes of gameplay that you can take each wrestler through. Sadly no WCW wrestler has made it into the final roster of JBI as the list of available wrestlers is as follows:

The Rock
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Triple H
The Undertaker
Kurt Angle
Kane 
Chris Jericho
Big Show
Rikishi
Chris Benoit
Edge
Christian
Buh Buh Ray Dudley
D-Von Dudley
Matt Hardy
Jeff Hardy
Lita
Billy Gunn
William Regal
Tazz
Raven
Steven Richards
The Goodfather
Ivory
Grand Master Sexay
Scotty 2 Hotty
Hardcore Holly
Crash Holly
Molly Holly
Dean Malenko
Perry Saturn
Eddy Guerrero
Faarooq
Bradshaw
Test
Albert
Trish Stratus
Michael Cole
Vince McMahon
Stephanie McMahon
Fred Durst
Shane McMahon
Earl Hebner 

This is the list I was given, as I'm not very sure of what secret wrestlers the game features. So if in the initial list of wrestlers (in the game) you don't find one of the wrestlers listed above, chances are he's secretly gained - such as Fred Durst. Various matches, like the ladder match, have been improved to be more interactive and true to life to their actual properties. WWF Smackdown's list of matches is almost never ending, as there are 70 different matches to choose from, three of which are hidden. The list for goes as follows:

1. Single Match - No Manager
2. Single Match - With Manager
3. Tag Match - Normal
4. Tag Match - With Manager
5. Tag Match - Tornado Tag
6. Six-Man Tag Match - Normal
7. Six-Man Tag Match - Tornado Six-Man
8. Handicap - One on Two
9. Handicap - One on Tag
10. Handicap - One on Three
11. Royal Rumble
12. King of the Ring - Normal
13. King of the Ring - "Amazing"
14. Hardcore - Single
15. Hardcore - Tornado Tag
16. Hardcore - Tornado Six-Man
17. Hardcore - Triple Threat Tornado Tag
18. Hardcore - One on Two
19. Hardcore - One on Three
20. Hardcore - Triple Threat
21. Hardcore - Fatal Four-Way
22. Hardcore - Special Referee
23. Hardcore - Time-Limit Title Match
24. Falls Count Anywhere - Single
25. Falls Count Anywhere - Tornado Tag
26. Falls Count Anywhere - Tornado Six-Man
27. Falls Count Anywhere - Triple Threat Tornado Tag
28. Falls Count Anywhere - One on Two
29. Falls Count Anywhere - One on Three
30. Falls Count Anywhere - Triple Threat
31. Falls Count Anywhere - Fatal Four-Way
32. Falls Count Anywhere - Special Referee
33. Survival - Triple Threat
34. Survival - Fatal Four-Way
35. Survival - Lumberjack
36. Survival - Battle Royal (Six men)
37. Survival - Battle Royal (Eight men)
38. Cage - Single
39. Cage - Tornado Tag
40. Cage - Triple Threat
41. Cage - Fatal Four-Way
42. Hell in a Cell - Single
43. Hell in a Cell - Tornado Tag
44. Hell in a Cell - Triple Threat
45. Hell in a Cell - Fatal Four-Way
46. I Quit - Single
47. Special Referee - One Referee
48. Special Referee - Two Referee
49. Ladder - Single
50. Ladder - Tornado Tag
51. Ladder - Triple Threat
52. Ladder - Fatal Four-Way
53. Table - Single
54. Table - Tornado Tag
55. Table - Triple Threat
56. Table - Fatal Four-Way
57. TLC - Single
58. TLC - Tornado Tag
59. TLC - Triple Threat
60. TLC - Fatal Four-Way
61. Slobberknocker
62. Iron-Man - Single
63. Iron-Man - Special Referee
64. TLC for Title - Single
65. TLC for Title - Tornado Tag
66. TLC for Title - Triple Threat
67. TLC for Title - Fatal Four-Way 

The story mode is somewhat deeper than it was before, as wrestlers will interact with one another more and more by calling them out, forming alliances and whatnot. The text is dialogue, and not just narrative as it was previously, but this dialogue lacks any true emotion or any authentic feel as the script reads very blandly. The wrestlers refer to themselves awkwardly, for instance when somebody approaches Stone Cold, instead of saying "Hey Stone Cold Steve Austin", wouldn't it be more realistic to say "Hey Steve" or "Hey Stone Cold". After all, since when was wrestling formal? I don't know if it's something that I'm doing, but the Story mode always ends after about two or three matches, but then again seeing as how there are around 50 wrestlers in the game, it doesn't really end until you've beaten the game with everybody. Yukes has incorporated authentic ring entrances into JBI, as on the Titantron, or what have you, there will be an FMV of the wrestlers intro streaming, as the wrestler enters with his signature arrival. The gameplay remains true to the Smackdown formula, so once again there will be no lengthy button combos to execute, or tedious methods to pull off a signature move. The "Create-a-___" modes are far deeper this time around, as the game features an excellently revised Create-a-Wrestler mode, and even a Create-a-Stable mode. With four people and of course a multi-tap, WWF Smackdown! JBI is arguably the best party game you can have with your boys...or gals. You can pretty much re-create your favorite WWF event with JBI. If you're a PS2 owner and you've been waiting to buy WWF Smackdown, chances are you'll ignore this review either way, but rest-assured JBI is a very worthy purchase for you fans. You shouldn't be disappointed, gameplay wise...

But you will be severely disappointed with the audio! I sure as hell was! I waved off the sound in the first two Smackdown titles, and for 'Know Your Role' I ended the audio segment of the review with the following quote: "...it would have been nice to hear some commentary to complement the sound effects, oh well, there is always the PS2 version, right Yukes?" Hmm...even though JBI does have "commentary" it's unbelievably bad for today's standards. Michael Cole and Tazz are the commentators, and they feature absolutely no interaction between one another. I must've heard Tazz say "oww" about fifteen times in a row at one point. And Michael Cole feels like every single match will be historic. I mean come on! Give me a break people, do you expect to throw in a bunch of meaningless phrases and call that commentary? Much less, even mention it on the back of the box as a selling point? It's utterly disgusting! I would've preferred that Yukes just kept the commentary out of it. The acid rock and techno songs have also returned once again, do all of you now see why I gave the sound a 3.0? On top of it all, the game features no voice acting in the Story mode. A HUGE negative! If it weren't for the sound of the punches, falls, and whatnot I would have certainly given the sound a 0. And honestly, if the next Smackdown has the same audio content, I'll make sure to award the sound a big fat bagel!

Changing the way all wrestling titles controlled, WWF Smackdown was possibly the first true interpretation of a wrestling title. You'll be glad to know that Just Bring It follows the same bloodline, as did the first and the second title. Between the 32-bit and 128-bit Smackdown's, the comparison is non-existent, in terms of control. The control scheme remains the same as it did, O and a direction will pull off a move, X is the attack button, Square is the block button, and Triangle is the run button. But where is the analog support? Where!? I much rather prefer using the analog function for movement, and use the digital to pull off the moves. Unfortunately Yukes did not give me that option, and I'm not overly content with the controls. 

If THQ and Yukes want to publish and develop a next-generation product, they should really be sure that it looks, sounds and plays like one. I'm somewhat disappointed by WWF Smackdown! because it just doesn't feel like a Playstation 2 product, or a next-generation product for that matter. While the game does have an enormous amount of play modes, matches and whatnot, it severely lacks any innovation in the controls, audio, and visuals. Sure, it's a fun game, but it doesn't retain the true WWF presentation that the Xbox's Raw is War does, with its photo-realistic visuals, and superb overall detail. That is not to say JBI is a bad game; it's just outdated. I'll probably get burned by many of you readers, then again maybe many of you will also agree that JBI isn't a leap over its predecessors, but what matters most is that it's fun, one player or four. Final word: If you have an Xbox and a PS2 and you're debating which WWF game to get -Smackdown or Raw is War- I'd go with the Microsoft title. Annnd let the hate mail pour...

11/24/2001 Arnold Katayev

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