July 21, 2003
THQ's Smackdown! a must have
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
Generally, the storylines are pretty good, but after a while, especially if you keep winning, you'll get caught up in the brand wars and the arrival of the nWo, which gets very boring very quickly. There could have been a bit more creative energy put in to new storylines, but then again the real WWE is having problems with those.
Outside of the season mode, there are dozens of matches you can do. There are some really sweet options here, including elimination Tornado tag matches, TLC and Hell in a Cell. It's virtually a guarantee that you will not get bored with this game.
Being so used to the No Mercy engine, it took a bit of time to adapt to the engine THQ uses for its PS2 games. Here, there aren't as many grapples; most of the time you will just go straight into a manoeuvre.
The actual move controls are a bit complicated. For a front grapple, you can do three levels of manoeuvres, and two levels for back grapples. This is based on how groggy your opponent is. There are also a variety of other grapples, including some killer top rope grapples like Lita's hurracanrana and Hurricane's neckbreaker.
The one part of the controls that is really hard to time is for out-of-the-ring moves like topes and Asai moonsaults. The controls are at times hard to pull off, especially in comparison to AKI's engine.
Graphics and Sound
In a word, stellar. The graphics are becoming more and more life-like. With few exceptions, the faces of the wrestlers look very much like their real-life counterparts. The environments are beautifully done, as the arenas look very true to the real sets used at pay-per-views.
The sound is also incredible. The entrance themes are beyond CD-quality, and the sound effects are pretty cool. There's even some commentary by JR and Jerry Lawler, though it gets repetitive. It is also worth noting that the commentary is very true to the TV commentary, including the needless shilling of WWE's Shopzone website.
The best part of this department, however, is the animation. Virtually every part of the game is an interactive environment. If, for example, you throw your opponent into gas tanks in the boiler room, they will explode, sending your opponent flying. The best part of the animation, however, is in some scenes, some of the wrestlers have added their voices for their catchphrases; the animation in these parts is far beyond anything you'd expect from the game.
I have to give props to THQ and WWE for including some DVD video features. These can be unlocked through the season mode and feature various montages of WWE action, along with a special RVD video and a cool credit screen.
I do, however, have a big problem with the selected montages. Yes they are cool, but why not include some footage that is already over with fans? Putting in the Kid Rock "Desire" video or a couple of matches that paralleled the storylines in the game would have been a cool addition.
Shut Your Mouth is one of the better wrestling games on the market right now. In comparison to No Mercy, long held as the premier North American console game, the game has its good and bad qualities. The controls aren't as easy to use, but the game features and play modes are far better. I would be hard to make a choice between the two, and thankfully you don't have to.
This game is a must-have, beyond the shadow of a doubt.
4.5 out of 5 stars