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Platform: Sony Play Station 2
Release Date: 12th November 2001(USA Only)
: 23rd November 2001(UK Only)
Price: £37.99 (UK Only)
: $49.99 (USA Only)
As the world waits for the first WWF title to hit the Sony Playstation 2, we have decided to give you a sneak preview in this report. Over the past few years we have seen THQ take the WWF contract from Acclaim, and in turn this has lead to THQ changing the face of WWF gaming forever. When both Smackdown 1 and 2 were released they hit the Sony Playstation big time, and kept on doing good in the Playstation charts for some time. But as we embark on the release of what has to be the most anticipated video gaming squeal of the year, one has to wonder will competition from both the X-Box and the Game Cube slow down the Playstaion 2 and damage the legacy of THQ’s WWF Smackdown series?
To be plainly honest Smackdown JBI at first looks remarkably like its predecessors on the Playstaion 1. It has the same square looking graphics and some of the other little graphical faults, but I have been told that it has been improved. Looking closer at the game you can tell the adjustments which have been made. The quality of the graphics do not become even more blurry as you look closer at them and you can make out the little facial and body features which do make the superstars look much better. Take The Undertaker, with his arms covered in tattoos, Smackdown JBI enables you to see much clearer, that’s if you ever wanted to look at the Undertakers arms. The superstars themselves look much better than in the previous instalments of the Smackdown games. With better facial features, moving facial features such as the eyes and mouth, and not just in the entrance, but the superstar fully responds to any move and attack in the ring, it brings the stars alive. My favourite stars are either William Regal or HHH in the game; they look so realistic and have the splitting image of the superstar they portray. The superstars come fully fitted with the newest ring attire and the power of the Playstation 2 helps make the superstars look much more realistic.
The Smackdown JBI roster has been changed and updated with some new faces of the WWF. In the first instalment of the Smackdown series we saw the main ‘core’ wrestlers of the WWF, the likes of The Big Show, Undertaker and The Rock. In the second addition we saw a lot of the lower card wrestlers on the roster, Essa Rios, Kaientia and Crash Holly. But now as THQ embarks on the third game of the series they have decided to keep the lower card wrestlers out of the game (They seem to have left Billy Gunn in though). In the game you have the usual The Rock, Stone Cold, The Undertaker and the rest of them. All the lower card guys have been left out. As THQ left out the lower card guys in leaves room for better work on the features of those who are in the game. We all know that Smackdown 2 was not the best game for the facial features, from a distance the stars looked good, but as you got close to them you could see the squares and the blurry-ness of the game. But as THQ and Yukes have left out a few wrestlers they have had time to create more detail on the stars and make them look a whole lot better. As I said before the roster has been updated with likes of William Regal, Molly Holly, Raven and a few more. The main new comer in the WWF roster is the talented, the charismatic and the most beautiful, MOP you have ever seen, that’s right the late Moppy has gracefully joined the Smackdown JBI roster.
The moves are basically just the same as in Smackdown 1 and 2, but slightly more flowing and extra moves makes the game play better. The game play has always been fast and furious on the Smackdown games and this edition of the game series is no different. Although with the power of the Playstation 2 it enables things too be a little faster and better. The superstars have more signature moves which are much more realistic.
The career mode was the let down in the previous Smackdown series, but now we have all been saved by the people at THQ. The main thing, which has been worked on at Smackdown JBI, is the carrier mode. It has been totally changed so that is now up too date, it is fully interactive and has brand new storylines. It was a large fault in the previous games that the storyline repeated itself over and over again. But now with the new modes and the interactive ability there will never be a repeated storyline. You can wonder backstage and challenge the WWF Hardcore champion or just walk in and request a match with Commissioner Regal. The interactive story mode allows you to be in charge for a large amount of the game. It has been said that you can go and interfere in a match and just really be in charge of your superstar. If the career mode has been changed then the game should be a sure-fire hit. In any game the career mode is the biggest section, so I hope that Smackdown JBI will do us justice.
Now, the WWF always set up some good staging and sets, so it would be good to see some in the games we play on. In WWF No Mercy we saw a large selection of sets and staging, but in the Smackdown games we only seen Raw and Smackdown sets. But we have now have been treated to a Raw, Smackdown, Wrestlemania and Insurextion arena. I know that this is only a small point but it does help. And it does help with the new entrances that the superstars have. You have before only seen the wrestlers walking out with a video behind them, but now we have the full entrances with Undertakers bike coming down to the ring.
The game has a large range of game features, as you would expect. It has got Hell in a Cell, Cage, Ladder, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble plus many more. You may cry “All these features have been in the other games” and they have, but not as good as this. You can now have 9 stars in the ring a once and this should be a great feature in itself. You can have tag team cage, ladder and Hell in a Cell matches. It sure will be a big hit. As far as new features are concerned the crowds are now fully interactive, in that you can fight and brawl in them. Also the guardrails are rumoured to be interactive so you bounce your foe’s head off it or do a Jeff Hardy style run across it.
There is a lot of controversy over the ECW and WCW trades marks in the game. I can tell you now that there will not be any of the ECW and WCW trade marks on the game whatsoever. The WCW gaming contract belongs to EA Sports and the ECW contract belongs to those people at Acclaim. But some of the ‘Alliance’ members will be on the game, Stone Cold, Test, D’Von, Bubba Ray, Tazz, Ivory and the other defectors of the WWF will be on the game. But, do not fear my friends, the Create-a- Wrestler mode will be one of the best and most detailed ever. It has around 1,000 editable parts, that is smaller than the 2,500 on Smackdown 2, but I am promised it will be better, It will have all the moves and parts to create the spitting image of your favourite wrestlers, whether it is DDP, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair or even if you want to create Goldberg you can.
The biggest and most anticipated part of the game for me has to be the play-by-play commentary with Mr Michael Cole and Tazz. We have seen commentary before form wrestling games but they have been rather dull, we have had Shane McMahon and Jerry Lawler and the terrible and appalling stuff from the WCW crew on Mayhem, which was terrible. But now the Smackdown crew have come to the Playstation and will provide us with some great stuff. But it will not be the repetitive stuff from WWF Attitude the announcers will make comments on the current action in the ring, talk about previous matches and forthcoming matches in the night but also we will see Tazz poking fun at ‘COLE!’ and him getting up too his usual antics.
Its got to be the biggest wrestling game this year and maybe the most anticipated gaming sequel of the year, I don’t think it will let the fans and me down. With the mighty power of the Playstation 2 the game has to be the best wrestling game to hit the shelves in a long time. I am not going lie to you by saying that the actual wrestling in the ring will be the best, because it won’t. RAW is WAR on the X-Box will be the best game for actual wrestling in the ring, but Smackdown JBI will be the best complete wrestling game. With not really much competition from X-Box or Nintendo at the moment the Sony Playstation should ride the gaming world waves high along with Smackdown JBI. I have picked my personal choice to play and buy and it has got to be a Smackdown JBI. All that is left to say is that THQ’s WWF Smackdown legacy will rage on for some time yet.