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by THQ

rock4-01.jpg (5077 bytes)Smackdown 3 marks the first time the WWF finds itself on the PS2. I have been looking forward to this game since I bought my system, especially after playing the second Smackdown: Know Your Role to death. Thinking how much they could cram into the DVD, I began to salivate at all the possibilities that would be available. My dream became a nightmare soon after playing a few rounds of "Just Bring It". Sure the graphical advances abound, but at the cost of so much more. This is one that would be a steller title if the bad stuff were tweaked just a bit.

vince-01.jpg (5618 bytes)With all the new additions and revisions, none of them are quite as drastic as the new story mode. In this new story mode you are allowed to control your own destiny by interacting with a series of questions and scenarios. The story mode is short when compared to the season mode of the previous installments. A typical story mode has four to five matches in order for you to win a championship belt. Once a belt is yours then the story mode is over. If you decide to play the story mode again with the same character, it consists of a title defense and that is it. THQ has added some replay value by using the various ways of playing the story mode because each completion unlocks WWF cards that either give you more superstars or new matches and body parts for the create-a-wrestler mode. The length of the story mode can be overlooked because there is plenty to unlock. What cannot be overlooked though is the horrid saving time. It takes nearly a minute to save a game, and as many times as it asks you to do so greatly disrupts the playing and really becomes a frustration.

Hhh2-01.jpg (6791 bytes)Up to four players can play at the same time with up to four more computer players, which brings the total to eight in the ring at one time. There are a variety of matches that range from the normal-- such as single and tag match-- to the extreme, which are the cage matches and the hell in the cell. I will say that finally the Royal Rumble can be played the way it should be, with no loading whenever a new combatant enters the ring. With the PS2 allowing eight combatants on the screen at one time, this is a hectic brawl to participate in. Smackdown 3, with the amount of players on screen and the variety of matches, is a game perfect for mutli-player fun.

Choke_Slam-01.jpg (7226 bytes)Rounding out the package is a HUGE create-a-wrestler mode. You can nearly create anybody you want, and with all the choices there is an infinite amount of possibilities. A male, a female, an alien-- it doesn’t matter. The only real limitation is your own creativity. At times there are up to a hundred different variations from the normal to the extreme. Now nearly everything can be customized from the character’s eyebrows to their entrance movies. In order for your creation to succeed you will want to use the attribute points wisely, and then change the moves so that they match the strengths of the fighter.

Smac2-01.jpg (7398 bytes)When information on this game was first released I, just like a lot of others out there, became quite excited that they were going to have commentary in it. Well, after playing for the first ten seconds I wanted to cry. The commentary of Michael Cole and Tazz is-- at best-- the worst thing I have ever heard on a game before. Both sound as if they are reading mad libs. Fortunately it can be turned off; if you leave it on you must like pain. Everything else you hear does stay true to the previous installments with the accurate theme music. "Rollin" by Limp Bizkit has even been licensed for Undertaker’s theme music.

slam-01.jpg (7768 bytes)Graphically, Smackdown 3 takes the look of the previous games and presents a more polished package. The wrestlers now look more like their real life counterparts with a few minor glitches. Not just the wrestlers are improved, but a whole new bunch of animations are now in there to give a more realistic feel to it. Reversals are the most notable animations--no more of just flipping around of the other person; now they will reverse into a setup for a grapple without letting go. The graphics might be improved, but the frame rate runs smoothly even with the increase in polygons. If one thing could be done to improve the graphics, it’s the icon that lets you know who you are targeting. The use of an arrow within an arrow is just not effective in allowing you to know whom you will attack. This makes winning harder when there is more than four opponents to deal with.

Pedigree2-01.jpg (8006 bytes)If you have ever played any of the Smackdown games, you’ll be familiar with the controls from the get go. Being a wrestling game you should have a large repertoire of moves to be able to perform. Not only is there plenty of moves to perform, but they can be pulled off with little effort. Even if you have not played this series before, the simple layout will make learning easy. Staying with the theme of good and bad things about the game, analog controls are non-existent. By no means is using the digital pad bad, but it would just have been better with the analog.

clothes2-01.jpg (8651 bytes)WWF Smackdown 3: Just Bring It! is a mixed bag of good and bad. The gameplay is solid and everything about the controller is maximized for full effect into the wrestling world. The single player story mode plays out like a choose your own adventure book. It might seem like a lot, but when it is broken down by the choices there is just not much there. Just don’t save too often and you might enjoy playing by yourself. This game, for all intents and purposes, is a party game that shines with the more people you have playing with you. Smackdown 3 is not a bad game, but it is a step in the wrong direction.

Jake Carder   (01/22/2002)


Ups: Huge create-a-wrestler mode; solid controls.

Downs: Shallow story mode; save times are horrendous; commentary should not have been included.

Platform: PlayStation 2