WWE Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth
THQ's wrestling giant returns to the arena snarling.
When you mention Playstation and wrestling games a plethora of titles spring to mind but the main and probably the best has to be the Smackdown series. Yuke’s first attempt at the PS2 Smackdown series was good but never really achieved its full potential. Shut your Mouth goes a considerable way to rectifying this little problem. To begin with the graphics are just an incredible leap on from its predecessor. Hogan and the Undertaker don’t just look like their real-life counterparts but could be quite simply mistaken for the real thing. The facial expressions are minutely intricate and have been delicately nurtured into really stunning likenesses. This likeness is continued into the areas which you can fight, which include the Raw and Smackdown sets which are picture perfect as well as the PPV areas. Unfortunately the crowd has not been given the same loving treatment, which is a shame as you are continually confronted with them during your battles. They also annoy during the entrance sequences which otherwise would be all but perfect if it wasn’t for the fact that some of the wrestlers bear more than a passing resemblance to robots when they walk into the arenas. The actual look of the wrestlers has come a long way with their body structure and the sense of blocks making up the body shape you got from ‘Just Bring It’ has all but been eradicated. The true proof of this is the beautifully lifelike way in which the hair now moves as the character moves. The flaws that have not been sorted are ones that have been with us since the dawn of wrestling games such as issues with the difficulty of interaction with the ropes and the really annoying paint effect of the clothes on the wrestlers bodies. The wrestling roster has been impressively updated with the inclusion of Booker T and the likes. It is quite amusing to see the likes of DDP and Steve Austin still playing, however. The ridiculous amount of game modes have remained relatively unchanged with usual the suspects of Single, Tag, 6-Man Tag, Special, Survival, Hardcore, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble, Handicap and Season. The Season category is a remarkably impressive offering, a real selection of gimmicky but essentially quite amusing battles such as Street Fight with bins and baseball bats to pick up, etc. There is also cage, elimination, hell in a cell, I quit, Ironman, Ladder, Last man standing, Table, TLC, Lumberjack, Slobber Knocker, Special Referee, Submission and 3 Stages of Hell. The real pulling point of this game is without doubt the Season mode. In past incarnations of this game it has been only partially effective but Yuke have really started to get it right in this version. You get the option to organise the roster split or simulate the draft. You can fight as an unknown or as an established wrestler and this has a serious effect on how long it will take you to become the undisputed champion. To begin with the Undertaker is the undisputed champion and once you have defeated him both sides of the draft will be after your title. The greatest element of this Season mode is that you can choose if you are a face or a heel by befriending other wrestlers in the locker room or attacking the winner of the king of the ring. These friends and enemies will come back to haunt you in the cut-scenes before and after matches but I’m sure you’ll be a big enough wrestler to take whatever comes at you in your stride. It all contributes to a more involved experience. At the end of the month the PPV of the month will take place and winning it will allow you to unlock loads of cool extras including new ‘create-a-wrestler’ parts, movies, new moves, new arenas and much more. The fighting improvements although at first may seem minimal, there is a great increase from previous incarnations with a much greater sense of realism and interaction between fighters as many of the best moves come from a dialogue of moves between different characters. This allows for very interesting varied fights. Whereas most fighting games you trade blows which can get very repetitive there is a sense of real variation in Smackdown SYM. The games always involve similar game play with increased extras such as the ability to drive the Undertaker’s bike anytime during the fights and being able to remove the corner post padding to inflict extra pain. The Create-a-Wrestler mode is simply incredible. It has come on leaps and bounds from Just Bring It. The face options are so detailed you can pretty much create anyone you like and with the realistic hair options there is almost limitless potential. They have also included the looks and moves of some of the big names not included in this version such as Mysterio. The commentary is the last real point of interest and while it has changed little from Just Bring it it is still subtle, and combined with the pumping soundtrack is a nice combination. Shut Your Mouth comes out quite well overall, then. The problem which faces most wrestling games, that wrestling is an ever changing beast which rolls on steadily with the ever increasing demand, and is therefore very difficult to keep up-to-date. Yuke has still delivered a very well rounded game, which has obviously had a lot of time and care spent in its creation. Don’t get me wrong this game isn’t perfect, but it is without doubt the best next-generation wrestling game on the market at the moment.