Bonding with sweaty males has never been a fixation for me. You have to look past the obvious disgust of fighting men in speedos in order to find out what wrestling is all about. The tense rivalries, the funny speeches, the high-risk maneuvers… and lets not forget about the women! Yes, yes, it is truly a crude sport, especially when it’s targeted towards males that will never kiss a woman other than their mother.
Despite these ramblings, I enjoy wrestling. I may not fit the stereotype completely but I must admit that I enjoy the elementary entertainment that is the WWE. WWE Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth is no exception. Not only is the fighting engine smoother than ever, but the animations, graphics, gameplay and overall fun factor is hard to match. Fear not my greasy haired (and faced for some of you, yuk!) friend, this WWE title is the best yet, and it's going to be hard to top.
Options! Holy mother of baby squirrels this game has options! Every specialty match you can think of was thrown into this DVD, not to mention you can set your own rules, time limits and stipulations too! Like Slobber Knocker matches? No problem. Want to watch the computer in an all-chick lumberjack match? Look no further. Only thing I wish they did include would be a mud match with all the WWE divas… and me. Crap. Well, I guess there is always next time.
Character creation is one of my favorite features in wrestling games. There is just something special about beating the crap out of DDP with your name slapped onto the character. Right away you are given basically limitless faces, body shapes (which can be completely adjusted, not preset), hats, ties, boots, eyes, and just about anything else you want to endow your better half. I had a dandy of a time making some of my old characters that I did on other wrestling games. Of course, this time around they look ten times better and more like how I envisioned them than when I first made them.
Multiplayer is back in full force, with all the different kinds of matches to be held. However, I must advise that you make your friends in the character creation mode and have at it. There is just nothing like beating the crap out of each other in the virtual realm; since most of us that play these games can't lift 50 lbs. without straining our left nut (or right, your choice).
Story mode is an enjoyable experience, now that they have incorporated more of an interactive story; meaning that you effect what happens between you and your fellow wrestling mates, which in turn affects the outcome of the overall story. Right from the get-go, you get to choose the RAW and Smackdown! rosters for Vince and Ric; pretty sweet. I found myself hitting on the WWE ladies in the lobby quite frequently. Funny thing is, I got what I get in real life, rejection! Wow, video games are getting more and more real!
The character models were done so meticulously, I wondered if they took a magnifying glass to The Rock's peck. And the stadiums (save for the always crappy looking crowd) were done with much detail and attention. Exploration is encouraged with the likes of the boiler room, parking garage and outside the arena where you can get floored by oncoming traffic! Makes for a prime street and hardcore fight.
All this praise comes with some drawbacks though. For one, the collision detection could have been touched up. Lets just say it looks funny when you are giving a head lock and your arm just seems to go through the opponent’s head. Also, with all the technology on region specific damage, I would have liked to see that present in Shut Your Mouth. For example, say you are beating on Stone Cold's left leg, then put on a figure-four, wouldn't you think he would give up quicker with more damage on that left leg? One thing that should be a problem, but isn't, is the fact that there is no slow down whatsoever, even with six fighters going all out onscreen.
Fast and furious gameplay is the name of the game here. Timing and reflexes are used to the full, and when coupled with the smooth controls that are offered, the player is at fault when a mistake is made. And this time, one button with a touch of the d-pad does most of the grappling moves (instead of using two or three different buttons), which makes for quicker decisions and fluid move combos. And your special move (known as your “Smack Down” move) is as simple as positioning your opponent or catching him at the right time and hitting the R1 button. This made me very happy, seeing as I thought past wrestling games made it hard for the casual passerby to sit down and play.
I have heard that the next WWE game is going to be built with a new engine. That will be interesting and hard to top at the same time. Hopefully it won't be a step backwards rather than forwards, but better and better seems to be the case with the WWE games.
WWE fans should not even give thought to buying this game. It’s a simple given. With astounding graphics, control, gameplay, story mode, character creation and more, I cannot convey how much this will please WWE fans. Then there are those who deem wrestling fans a breed that God forsook. Bite us, we are cool and we know it! This game will probably pass under their radars, but it just means more gaming goodness for us cool people. And they have no idea what they are missing.