The WWE (formerly WWF) Smackdown series, which was born on the PS2ís predecessor, has managed a great amount of success. Just Bring It, however, got a very mixed response, and itís not ill-advised either, as Just Bring It did lack both in the graphics and single-player facets. With every sequel sporting a subtitle to one of The Rockís many catch-phrases, itís not too surprising what THQ has named the PS2ís next WWE game: Shut Your Mouth.
Shut Your Mouthís visuals are a tremendous improvement over last yearís Just Bring It. JBI used basically the same engine as Know Your Role with a few improvements, which was extremely disappointing for those expecting look-alike wrestlers. With that said, Shut Your Mouth has touched up on a lot of different aspects in this department -- most notably, the fact that the wrestlersí faces look very life-like. In addition, the lighting and polygon counts have both been augmented to a nice degree, and the hair texturing is much better and more accurate than the feeble attempts found in JBI.
Another facet of the graphics that has been drastically improved are the cut-scenes. Whether itís a promo before a match or a superstar entering the ring, itís obvious that Yukes has taken much time to help make this part of the game more appealing. Hopefully weíll see the whole visual package once the game is set for release.
One of Just Bring Itís most-notable disappointments was its outdated roster, which really isnít too surprising given the almost week-by-week changes in the WWE. In any case, Shut Your Mouth includes a seemingly up-to-date roster, featuring the newer stars such as Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash, and wrestlers from the Alliance angle such as Booker T, Stacy Keibler, Lance Storm and Rob Van Dam. Scott Hall has already been made, but since his recent firing because of the infamous incident on a plane back to the US, his character will most likely not be included once the game is released; we also hope that some of the new stars that came from the WWEís developmental centers will make the final roster, such as Brock Lesner.
Another recent change in the WWE has been the brand extension wherein Ric Flair owns Raw and has his gaggle of exclusive wrestlers, while Vince McMahon runs the Smackdown program and has his batch of wrestlers. This brand extension will also be incorporated into the game; though, weíre not sure how much of an impact itíll actually have.
Just Bring It included over 60 match variations, and, believe it or not, Shut Your Mouth will still include new match types that are brand new to the series. Such matches include Elimination Tag, Captain Fall Tornado Six-Man Tag, and Anywhere Slobberknocker. Elimination Tag is a match where whenever someone gets pinned, he has to leave the match, until only one man (or team) is left standing. Anywhere Slobberknocker is your traditional Slobberknocker with the stipulation that the action will take place backstage.
The grappling engine is basically unchanged, so players can expect the same fast paced games as the previous titles delivered. The wrestlers, however, have been given a very diverse and accurate move-set list, and players can now pull off combos according to their real-life counterpartsí. Additionally, triple-team moves will also be implemented for some of the larger matches, and THQ also promises more double-team moves, as well. And the ever-popular "What!?" taunt is in too, which may be a good or bad thing. Letís just hope the fans donít get too carried away with it, if they use it at all, that is.
On another good note, the four main commentators -- Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler from Raw, and "Mitchell" Cole and Tazz for Smackdown -- will all be included and do the play-by-plays for their respective shows. Weíre hoping, though, that the color commentary will actually be entertaining this time, instead of the bland nonsense we got from Just Bring It: "Stone Cold........is a great wrestler."
WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth will hit stores sometime this Winter, and itís looking quite promising thus far. Look for more in the near future, as well as screens, on THQís next foray into the world of sports entertainment.
5/20/2002 Joseph Comunale