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The latest in the WWF series is as certain to become one of the best selling video games over Christmas as Britney Spears is to have another No.1 recording hit. Now that sounds pretty definite to me! The formula is simple! Kids live and breathe TV's interpretation of Wrestling. Kids also happen to love video games. Combine the two and. Voila.! Hey Presto.! What'd ya got? Big Bucks!
WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role follows hot on the heels of last years Smack-er-roony from THQ and is a pure 'in-your-face' pulverize-em-up. It features all the BIG names from the WWF TV shows from Stephanie McMahon (boy, can she act!) to the formidable force of The Rock, Rikishi Phatu and current World Champion Kurt Angle. In fact there's initially an almighty 50 Superstars available, both mustley male and busty female, with a further 30 to unlock such as 'past' favorites Stone Cold Steve Austin. So sit back, hold on tight and lets see if the game lives up to all the hype.
If you already own the original WWF Smackdown then don't expect massive improvements to this follow up because the game handling is very similar and a polite way to describe the graphics would be 'roughly comparable'. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't make Know Your Role a poor looker. Far from it. but because last years game really stretched the Playstation boundaries Smackdown 2 barely climbs a few measly rungs up the ladder that leads to perfection Heaven. For WWF virgins that means smoothly sculptured polygon fighters, animated crowds, giant working video screens and flashing camera bulbs that almost create a strobe lighting effect.
To help re-create the 'TV presentation feel' within the computer game each 3D animated character begins a bout by walking in front of a full screen FMV, so now you can get your rocks off by gawping at the Undertaker riding his bike into the ring. Each intro movie has been perfectly captured and helps to create a volcanic atmosphere long before a single blow has been thrown in anger.
Visually there are still a few problems, such as every move isn't animated as smoothly as it should be. It's as if the occasional frame mysteriously goes missing. It was also noticeable that while the commentary team can be viewed at their table from inside the ring they are strangely nowhere to be seen when the action hit's the floor. Who can blame them, I suppose?
The sound effects are much the same with baying crowds erupting over the exaggerated thuds that accompany every slam/drop, while the background music is once again of the heavy rock variety (what else?). Sadly there are still no vocals from the disappearing commentary team leaving a feeling that something is missing from the overall effect.
I think by now you should be getting the drift that Smackdown 2 is very similar to last years effort and controlling the fighters is still as easy as pie. Single button pushes are again used to perform most strikes, slams or grapples, although combining the directional button does offer a few more variations. While I understand that each superstar must retain their own set of special moves it would have been nice for the developers to give each fighter a brand new series of button commands to execute them. I felt a bit cheated when I could immediately control all of the fighters that appeared in last year's game. Learning is fun! To counteract this there does seem to be more new signature moves for the top names, while the CPU AI (artificial intelligence) has been cranked up making them far tougher to beat.
The best part of WWF Smackdown 2 has to be the sheer amount of game modes. I'll not mention them all as they are listed below but the Ladder Match works a treat. It seems simple at first. pick up the ladder from outside the ropes, set it up in the center of the ring, climb up and grab the suspended belt. At times it's easy to forget that there is another fighter in the ring, but trying to ascend the trestle while some crazy beast is shaking it like hell is no mean feat. Further more plummeting to the floor makes your character an easy target for a bit of ladder GBH. Frustrating.. but great fun. Hell in a Cell is another game mode that has been yearned for. Imagine the ring encased inside a massive cage. Pieces can be smashed off and used as weapons. You can even climb around the outside of the cage or temp your opponent to a grapple on the roof. With so many varied game modes and a really in-depth create-a-superstar option (almost an editor tool) you can certainly be guaranteed hours of mindless fun.
· 3 Difficulty Levels
· 3 Arenas With 17 Changeable Mats
· 12 Backstage Areas
· Design a Wrestler
· Create a: PPV, A Superstar, A Taunt, A Stable, A Manager
· Multiple Exhibition Modes Including:
Single Match - Tag, Anywhere Fall
Hardcore - Handicap, Tornado Tag, Triple Threat, Fatal 4 Way, Special Referee, Time Limit Title
King of The Ring
Survivor - Triple Threat, Fatal 4 Way, Battle Royal
Special - Casket, Mystery, Slobber Knocker, Table, Special Referee, Ladder, Iron Man (1 hour), I Quit, Hell In A Cell, Cage Match.
Number of Disks: 1
Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 1
Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 2
Multi-tap compatible (max players): No
Link-cable compatible (max players): No
Split screen multi-player option (max players): No
Other accessories: None
Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: No
Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: Yes