WWE Smackdown 4 - Shut Your Mouth
Review of WWE Smackdown 4 - Shut Your Mouth
Strange things have been going on recently in the world of polygon wrestling. Not only did the World Wildlife Fund gain two falls and a submission against the mighty World Wrestling Federation, but we now find the rapidly aging Hollywood Hulk Hogan has once again been reincarnated to promote the latest game in the SmackDown series. So does this mean that the most popular wrestling series is taking a step backwards? Not likely!
I’m sure we would all agree that a new graphics engine must be forthcoming, but for the meanwhile the development team have done wonders in squeezing a little more blood out of this old stone. While SmackDown is still quite a long way from matching the visual peaks reached by other highly popular fighting series (Tekken, DOA, Soul Blade…), there have been massive strides in the right direction with this fourth instalment from the THQ/Yule team.
The quicker loading times will be warmly welcomed, but it’s the visual upgrading that is immediately noticeable. The video entrances are again impressive with lighting effects that will blow you away and almost every entrance is accompanied by the characters actual intro music. But it’s many of the fighters almost photo-realistic facial details, unique expressions and actions that add further improvement to this wrestling carnival. Many of the finishing moves now look far more realistic than they ever did before, and watch out for the cinematic style replays that can be activated during each finisher.
Thankfully, many of the past licensing problems have finally been sorted out so most of your favourite wrestlers are now available to appear in SmackDown 4. Bouts take part in a wide selection of vast arenas. These include the recent locations of RAW, SmackDown, WrestleMania and various other pay-per-view venues, including the two regular English events, Rebellion and Insurrection. Sadly the flat 2-dimensional crowd once again disappoint.
The ‘Just Bring It’ play-by-play commentary has now been ditched and replaced by intermittent observations from Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. Different… but not necessarily an improvement. Some of the story lines will be instantly recognisable to anyone who watches the TV programme, but on the downside, you must again trawl through lines of on-screen text, rather than enjoy the dulcet tones and bad acting of your favourite character during the back-stage scenes.
You will find one or two gameplay changes from last time out. Season mode is no longer a never-ending grapple of four measly contests. It now lasts two years with one month containing between four and nine matches. Playing all the way through this more than once will offer a new experience each time, while unlocking even more bonus goodies.
The backstage areas are again fully interactive with many detachable items and objects making useful weapons in your quest to knock seven bells out of an opponent. Much of the scenery reacts when opponents are thrown against them by exploding or simply crumbling apart. Bodies dumped in trucks, alarm bells set off… the possibilities are endless.
The inclusion of a survivor series is another great addition, while the concept of the Royal Rumble is getting closer to reality with the player taking even more control over decisions such as who takes part, and more importantly, who doesnt. Sadly you still cannot pick the order each contestant enters the ring, but this option may finally appear in Smackdown 5.
The exhibition mode is again jam-packed with tasty challenges you will find hard to resist, such as cage matches, King of the Ring, tag contests, Survival, Hell In A Cell, handicaps, eliminations, submission, table, ladder, lumberjack, last man standing, and many more.
Those familiar with the Smackdown series will find little problem recognising the control system, although a few moments may be required to become familiar with a couple of new actions such as counter moves and being able to grab weapons from under the ring apron. This time around every single move cannot be reversed, but by hitting the D-pad even a finisher can be countered.
For those who enjoy creating their own wrestler the facility is again included to customise a designer built character in every single detail from appearance to fighting style. This is a mode that can be jumped into straight away or pushed to one side until further options have been unlocked by playing through a season or two.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'WWE Smackdown 4 - Shut Your Mouth' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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