WWF: Smackdown Review

By: John Doe

WWF Smackdown is the first step in the right direction for wrestling games; speed, drama, and action are the order of the day. Wrestling fans are finally on their way to getting the game they deserve. Smackdown isn't perfect, but it's darn close.


I have played so many wrestling games lately that I began to tire of them. Considering that most of them featured the same character roster, it was easy to forget from one game to another how to do Steve Austin's (or any other wrestler) moves. My biggest complaint with the rasslin' games released so far, is that none of them have captured the soul of the sport. Wrestling is 60% action and 40% drama and to ignore a key element means that you aren't going to come close to capturing your target. Imagine a Tony Hawk game without any ramps and you can see my point. Smackdown does so many things right that it's easy to ignore the small things that aren't executed perfectly.

The speed of the game is the first thing you'll notice; it's very quick. Games like Attitude, ECW, Mayhem and even WWF Wrestlemania 2000 were all sluggish, at least in comparison with the speed at which Smackdown moves. Sure wrestling is choreographed for the most part, but in the aforementioned games, it felt as though you weren't fighting in a real match, but in a rehearsal before the match. Smackdown's other brilliance shines through in the never-ending Season mode. You can just keep playing forever, while watching belts changes hands, and even adding or removing wrestlers from the lineup if you get tired of them. Sort of like playing Vince McMahon while you are it. The Season mode is where the drama develops. Now, it isn't much of a plot, but some screaming matches and attacks take place out of the ring, at least giving the illusion of some wrestling reality.

Other game modes such as the Special Ref matches, where you can be the ref and count out as fast or slow as you like, or just start punching the crap out of everyone is very different and very cool. Deserving of special mention is the I Quit mode, where the goal is to make the loser say "I Quit' while having a microphone shoved in his/her face. Hardcore and the pin-anywhere matches allow you to fight in the entryway, parking lot etc. Of course, the other options include those WWF special events like King of the Ring, cage matches, tag matches, Battle Royal, Survival etc. The Create-A-Wrestler feature isn't as goody packed or flexible as Attitude's or ECW's but it does allow you to assign any moves, taunts and finishers to your personal Frankenstein in tights.

Graphically, this game looks pretty darn nice running on the PSX's aging architecture. The wrestlers are large and well animated and although they look like zombie versions of their real-life counterparts, you will be able to recognize them. The collision detection is very good which makes the game play so much better than any of its predecessor's. The framerate is solid and even keeps up when 4 players get into the squared circle.

On a low note, Smackdown's sounds are disappointingly poor; if not downright absent. The actual sound effects of the blows are done very well, but there is hardly any voice at all and no ringside commentary to speak of. For a game that accomplishes this much credibility, it's surprising that THQ left out such an important feature.

Needless to say, there isn't much to rain on Smackdown's parade. If you are a WWF fan, you'll be begging for this one while cashing in future birthday presents or getting a job in a sweatshop just to buy it. Smackdown is very good and I considering how well this game turned out, I can't imagine what THQ has in store for us next time.






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