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Old 08-10-02, 09:36 PM
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From IGN news

August 08, 2002 - WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth today caught us in a relatively optimistic mood about the future of professional wrestling and professional wrestling videogames. RAW is now left for dead, certainly, having become nothing but Shawn and Hunter's Happy Hour of Circle-Jerk, but SmackDown! now features Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero on the same show, which performers we are happy to sit through 20 minutes of Stephanie McMahon flapping her yap to see. Gamewise, it seems as if Yuke's has some time and some vision to make a better game of the SmackDown! series. We'll have to wait much longer for everything to come out in the wash, but most of what we saw today seemed fairly promising.
Visually, sure, it's still the same engine, and that will certainly remain a sore point. Its kinship with the previous three games is obvious, and despite the improvement in some key areas -- the hair modeling is distinctly better, for one -- it's still not as visually impressive as its competition on other consoles. The level of texture detail is obviously lower, and some facial models still look downright wacky. Yuke's' huge animation library is still a strong point, though, and one of the advantages of sticking to the same engine. The selection of moves and other animations is massive and still growing. In particular, Shut Your Mouth sees the integration of many more small animations into idles, poses, recovery, selling, and other motions besides the actual moves, adding more personality to different characters. Wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and The Rock carry themselves in a very distinctive style in reality, and the game replicates that style very well.

The grappling system is familiar in most of its components, but Shut Your Mouth does implement a more complex reversal system akin to the one in the Gamecube's WrestleMania X8. Moves are now countered by the square button and a direction (which corresponds to the one used to execute the move in question), so there's an element of guesswork and strategy involved in countering more complex moves. Basic irish-whip grapples and the like can still be countered with just a press of the square button, but reversals are much less frequent otherwise.

International-object behavior, as you may recall from our E3 impressions, has been substantially updated. There are now several more moves that can be executed by grappling with an object, while striking with objects can damage them or at least change their status -- smash someone with a chair enough and dents start to show up. Grappling with a table usually results in an easy table setup (it's much simpler to put someone through a table in this game), while grappling with a chair leads to throat shots or DDTs on the chair. The R1 button now manipulates more elements of the environment, too. It's possible to undo the top turnbuckle for a Snake Eyes-style attack by tapping R1 in the corner.

The match type selection was already about as complete as it could be in Just Bring It, but the new game does round things out with a bigger and more interactive Hell in a Cell cage, like the one in WrestleMania X8. It's possible to ram an opponent into the cage, go in and out of the cage door, climb the cage, jump off the cage, go through the cage, fight on top of the cage, and otherwise have a lot of fun with things cage-related. It's also worth noting that the rails around the ring are interactive -- this may have been a bug, but the demo version allowed us to jump off the cage onto the rail, and then jump from the rail to the floor. In any event, you will at least be able to climb onto the rails and perform moves off them. The same goes for the tops of latters and similar ledge-like areas backstage (see the media section for a screen of Rob Van Dam performing a frog splash off a railing in the boiler room).

On to the invariable "who's in?" issue, we were surprised to learn that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is in the game. While has has of course left the WWE in reality, THQ still has the license to use him in its videogames, so he will appear. Lucky for Yuke's -- otherwise, they would have had to get rid off all those "WHAT!" cinematics.

The rest of the roster, while not as yet complete, appears to be much more current than in previous SmackDown! titles. All the recent arrivals from WWF developmental territories appear to be included, like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Rico Constantino and Randy Orton. Many wrestlers will be hidden as part of the Story Mode's progression, however, like the nWo (which in this case encompasses Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan, and Shawn Michaels) -- they'll appear over the course of the year at the appropriate time. Wrestlers now have alternate costumes, although there's no fixed number. Some wrestlers will have three or more, while others may only have one or two, depending on their propensity for varying their outfits in real life. Faarooq is not likely to be much of a fashion plate, but RVD has a few different colorful tights, Chris Benoit has both his red and blue outfits, Hulk Hogan swaps between nWo and 80s-throwback garb, and so on.

Shawn's entrance, incidentally, is hilarious (video will be forthcoming). We are disappointed by the lack of the Sherri Martel version of "Sexy Boy," however.

The aforementioned Story Mode is now built around a blend of elements from the second and third SmackDown! games. The intent is to take the basic "season" structure of the second game, minus its excessive load times and clumsy simulations of insignificant matches, and add the third game's emphasis on role-playing and cinematic events. A selected wrestler enters the Story Mode at the beginning of a year of WWE programming (modeled after the past year, with events like the draft, roster split, and nWo invasion) and progresses through individual matches and storylines. Popularity is measured by a superstar rating, which has a varying default level depending on which wrestler you pick (a WWE Champion would start at the top, while a created wrestler is at the very bottom) and increases or decreases depending on success in matches. That rating then determines the level of a wrestler's opponents, their chances of getting a title shot, and so on.

The emphasis on cinematics that colors the new story mode affects regular matches as well. Most matches, whether they're in exhibition or story mode, include some post-match hijinks -- confrontations, beatdowns, and other fun stuff. Some of these are relatively generic (wrestler A gets a chair and beats hell out of wrestler B), while others are personalized for the wrestlers involved. Pick a pair of nWo members and Kevin Nash will present his usual shtick, or you'll get Shawn Michaels' signature posing.

The commentary in Just Bring It was a bit of a sore point with most, to put it mildly. THQ is attempting to rectify the situation in the new game in a couple of ways. For one, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler will replace Michael Cole and Tazz (to which we say anything other than Michael Cole would be an improvement), and the amount of vocal commentary will be toned down substantially. Rather than continuous play-by-play, it will be more infrequent color, and the plan is to try and direct the commentary such that it's a little better suited to the action at hand. JR and King will also provide occasional voice commentary on events during the Story Mode.

Arena-wise, the backstage areas have been substantially revamped. Although there are about as many rooms as in the previous game, they're now much more detailed, and include far more interactive elements. Objects like boxes, chemical containers, and barrels can be knocked over or used as weapons. You can slam an opponent in a dumpster (check the media section for a movie of that bit). Certain scripted events activate lighting and fog effects, like setting off the fire alarms and sprinkler systems. The outdoor areas particularly show off a huge increase in detail, with buildings and streets modeled after WWF New York and Madison Square Garden.

Create-a-wrestler, perhaps the series' strongest suit in comparison to its competition, has gotten even more detailed and complex for before, which is saying something. More animations, textures, and model parts are naturally available. The animation editor has expanded to include idle poses and other non-move animations in addition to taunts, and includes a friendlier interface to allow less dedicated creators to make use of the system. Facial animations are tweakable in addition to the rest of the body. There's also now a versatile text editor for mapping words onto body parts. The editor offers almost complete freedom as far as the size, font, and placement of text, so you could use it to create anything from a tattoo to a T-shirt slogan to the classic block-lettered name down the tights. Finally, the game now has a password system for encoding the details of a created wrestler. It's still possible to save the wrestler to a memory card, but the password now makes sharing a created wrestler online or elsewhere far easier -- instead of listing all the settings for each variable, just write down the password.

As always, this isn't the last you'll see of SmackDown! on IGN. Look forward to more media in very short order, followed by more detailed features and (God help us) the likely return of the SmackDown! Countdown. Again, it begins...

But you know I simply can't wait for IGN to charge me the 20 bucks for 1 minutes worth of video..especially when its free here

Another post from your friendly neighborhood zero
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Old 08-10-02, 10:54 PM
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Thanks for the post zero...My interest in this game is definitely growing.
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Old 08-11-02, 01:06 AM
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Originally posted by Abranut
Thanks for the post zero...My interest in this game is definitely growing.
anytime man
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Old 08-12-02, 01:51 PM
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One of the first PS2 games I bought was "Just Bring It", it was returned within a week. As a fan of wrestling, to say that I was disappointed is an understatement.

Hopefuly this one will deliver the goods.
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Old 08-13-02, 04:07 AM
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I love all the Smackdown games and im a huge wrestling fan, but im really not looking 4ward to Smackdown 4 all that much. Part of it is due to the fact that the television programming for WWE has become almost unwatchable. Ive been tuned out for about some months now. My friends keep me posted on whats going on but for me its lost alot of spark. That causes me to lose hype for the upcoming game. When Smackdown 3 was being releases i couldnt wait for it, but i dont feel that way this time around. I saw some screenshots of Smackdown 4 and was dissapointed on how incredibly similar it looks to prt. 3 and now that far ahead of its PSone games. Now, on the other hand, Legends of Wrestling 2 is going to be The first one i loved, besides it slow paced action, i thought the graphics and moves were great. Now they are speeding up the action, adding more matches, better create mode, better career mode and up to 65 legends including one of my favs, Rowdy Piper.
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Old 08-13-02, 03:07 PM
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I find that the Gamecube's Wrestlemania X8 pretty much sucked. I returned that thing as quick as possible. I love the N64 THQ's wrestling games. The graphics weren't great of anything, but the grappling system was a hell of a lot better. WWF No Mercy is an awesome game, and I still play the heck out of it. Can anyone recommend any game that has a similar type of play?
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Old 08-13-02, 05:32 PM
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I have decided that with this game, and any future wrestling games, I will have to see it to believe it. I will no longer purchase these games just because of what I have read or simply because they are wrestling games. Once I have seen it in action only then will I consider purchasing them.
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