Today, your very own recently appointed Editor-in-Chief, SolidSnake, received his preview copy of one the most anticipated PS2 sequels of the year. It's not Metal Gear Solid 2 ĖIíve already played that-, and it's not Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 -soon I hope, soon-, instead it was THQ's monstrously popular WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It. The third in a series that has sold more than 4 million copies, Just Bring It will be the very first wrestling game to be released in the US. Of course, the Yukes team is behind the PS2 version, as they have been with the previous two, and thanks to the new hardware, Just Bring It is about as close as you'll get to authenticity without having to actually attend a taping of Smackdown. I know many of you reading this are eager to know whether or not you can do "this" or "that" in Just Bring It, please do not email me on this. While generally, I would be more than happy to address all of your questions, I can't. This build is relatively early, even though it features 75% of what will be in the final product, it's quite buggy and locks up at times, something very common with early builds. Nevertheless, Smackdown 3 is an awesome title that fans of the two previous will enjoy for a long time.
Changing the way all wrestling titles played out, 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 gameplay, everything is just that much more defined then it ever was. The control scheme remains the same as it did, O and direction will pull off a move, X is the attack button, Square is the block button, and Triangle is the run button. Playing the game is a lot of fun. Yukes and THQ have thrown in dozens and dozens of modes. If it was a WWF event, then it's in Just Bring ItÖ well all but one: Braw and panties match. But hey, you can't have everything. The current roster of wrestlers isn't very accurate in the preview build, there are roughly 35 to choose from, but in the final version it may be closer to 45 or 50. This time, the maximum amount of wrestlers in one ring is 6, but once again seeing as how this is a preview build, things are possible to change, and we may end up seeing 8 wrestlers simultaneously. Refer to the preceding preview for all of the match types and the current list of wrestlers, which I repeat is scheduled to change.
Visually speaking, WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It is a very good-looking title, although it needs 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, in other words: less flab, more muscle. Wrestlers such as The Rock, Chris Jericho, and Stone Cold are all very muscular men, but their outward appearance in Just Bring It just doesn't show it. Albeit wrestlers such as Kane and The Undertaker don't really have much muscle definition (in real life), which makes their Smackdown counterparts 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. Then again I should mention the stadium detail, 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. Although, the crowd detail is very minimal, they're either made up of sprites, or just a polygon or two, which isn't very impressive. The animations on the other hand are fantastic; everything is smooth and never choppy which makes for an even more realistic performance. And with a frame rate of 60, the action is always quick. It's hard to tell whether or not Yukes will make any changes to the visuals, but I really hope they do so.
I should also mention that for the first time, THQ and Yukes have implemented commentators into the game. Both Michael Cole and Tazz are the voices you'll be hearing in the background, but don't expect anything groundbreaking though, as there are roughly 50 different phrases to be heard of, albeit remember what Iíve been saying throughout the review: itís possible that changes will be made. In the end, WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It is a substantial improvement over its past predecessors, aside from the graphical enhancements; the game boasts replay value to the point of claustrophobia. The amount of arenas, wrestlers and events to choose from is mind boggling, not to mention the huge and almost never ending "Create-A___" modes. You can customize your own wrestler like never before, with thousands of different body parts and features. You can even make your own taunt and stable. Just Bring It is deep, incredibly deep. This is the one game WWF zealots have been waiting for, make sure this game is in your hands this Fall.