WWF Smackdown Just Bring It
Review of WWF Smackdown Just Bring It
If I was totally honest my time as a wrestling fan was way back in the days of Mick McManus, Kendu Nagasaki and Les Kellit, but interest gradually waned with the introduction of glittery characters such as Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks… or maybe I just grew up. In the 80’s TV revenue dried up and wrestling disappeared from our screen for the best part of a decade. Then along came satellite and cable with a bundle of cash. It also became apparent that wherever there’s lots of money, there’d be ample interest from certain factions all trying to get their grubby hands on the largest piece of the pot. NWA, NWO, WCW, NWA… the list seems endless, but none grew bigger and brasher than the WWF.
“Just Bring It” (a ‘well-known’ catch-phrase of The Rock in case you were wondering) is the third in THQ’s mega-popular World Wrestling Federation Smackdown series. The first two titles set the standard for all 32-bit console grapple games and with all that extra processor power ‘JBI’ looks set to do the same for the PS2. Just check out the impressive list of new and improved features listed further down the page to see what I mean.
Graphically JBI is a bit of a mixed bag. Although the main intro movie is acceptable (hardly breathtaking) the best CG movies have been saved for the OTT build up as each Superstar enters the arena. Each character is captured on the Titantron big screen (that also constantly streams live feedback of the action within the ring), while the more popular wrestlers are also treated to a tasty FMV (it quickly becomes obvious where the extra polygon count is used when busty Trish bounces into the auditorium). Just wait until you see the eerie likeness of each character as they perform their trademark entrance before getting to grips in the ring and … yeah, the Undertaker bursts into the auditorium on his motorbike… again! You certainly won’t be disappointed with the build up.
Once a bout begins up to eight fighters can cram into the ring at one time with no reduction in visuals or control. Furthermore, a referee now actually enforces the rules and actively becomes involved in a bout. He will try his best to remove an illegal contestant by clapping his hands, gesticulating and even throwing the odd punch should he not get his way (as if…?). While the fighters skin textures look awesome, all the characters still tend to look as if they have been superimposed over the scenery. You still get the odd glitch but at least that annoying freeze frame problem has finally been smoothed out (a noticeable bug in both previous Smackdown’s). Generally movement is much improved but it still lacks the fluidity and polish of a Tekken Tag or a Dead or Alive.
There are three initial arenas and since the best fun is had by taking the fight outside the ring the addition of a massive backstage area is welcome. During Story Mode and Hardcore Title Match you can freely wander through the dressing rooms, offices, car park, restaurants and even venture outside, across the busy road and into WWF New York. For a laugh why not climb into the crowd and watch the 2-D audience flee for their little cardboard cut-out lives (maybe this trick should have been shelved until a 3D audience was possible). Finally on the visual side of things the intelligent use of camera angles makes WWF Smackdown Just Bring It! as good to watch as it is to play.
The sound effects are awesome with each contact amplified in bone crunching detail. I also noticed that the crowd’s reaction changes as the bout ebbs and flows. The most notable improvement worth mentioning must be the inclusion of an announcer and play-by-play commentary, which certainly adds to the overall atmosphere of the package. It may be repetitive and lack depth but it’s definitely better than ‘stone cold’ silence. Sadly pre-match taunts/trash are again restricted to subtitles, as is the dialogue for the Story Mode. Oh well, I suppose there had to be a reason for making a Smackdown 4 next year.
Playing the game is as simple as Simon, especially when the rules are switched off. The objective is again to tire out your opponent before pinning him for a count of three. This can be done by using a combo of the 80 odd moves that each character can perform… or by simply picking up one of the hundreds of interactive objects lying around and then smashing it into your opponents face and with the omission of blood effects this skullduggery can be put down to a good clean living tussle.
While many of the game modes will have already been played to death in Smackdown 2 there are plenty of new inclusions to keep the veteran happy for a few weeks. Apart from lots of secret characters and hidden events a few highlights worth mentioning are 6-Man Tag, up to 8-Man Battle Royal, 3 Stages To Hell and the option to include a Manager. There is also a new Story Mode but I found this to be quite shallow and is only really used to open up hidden features.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'WWF Smackdown Just Bring It' 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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