You know, it is amazing. I haven't been a "true" wrestling fan for years, and I can still tell you what is going on in the world of wrestling. To me it is like one of those things you tune into when nothing else is on, just to keep up. As it has been called before, it is a man's soap opera. But I will give THQ credit: no matter how little I could care about wrestling, I am always drawn into their video games, and WWE SMACKDOWN SHUT YOUR MOUTH is another one I find myself hooked on.
While I have always preferred the gameplay of the Nintendo 64 wrestling games to that of SMACKDOWN, the progress THQ has made on the SMACKDOWN engine is impressive. While it still feels a bit more like a fighting game than a wrestling game, the gap is closing quickly. SMACKDOWN SHUT YOUR MOUTH has a better grapple system than the ones seen in previous games, and also seems to have a larger variety of moves.
And of course, with every new incarnation of SMACKDOWN comes better graphics than seen in the previous games. The game looks great. In actuality, SHUT YOUR MOUTH is probably the best looking wrestling game on the market. It looks extremely realistic, especially during the wrestler introductions. The one problem with SMACKDOWN is the animation during the matches, though. Never have I seen a man that weights close to 300 pounds move so fast! It is really hard to believe that a man who has just taken the beating of his life can get up quicker than the speed of light and proceed to beat the tar out of you. Something just doesn't seem right, does it? But then again, it is wrestling.
SMACKDOWN SHUT YOUR MOUTH features tons of wrestlers, including my idol Hulk Hogan, along with HHH, Brock Lesnar, The Rock, Kurt Angle and every other WWE superstar that is in the organization. Each wrestler comes with his (or even her) own special moves that they use in the ring, even just regular moves that you would see them do. In other words, The Big Show (a 7', 500 pound man) isn't going to be that big into high flying moves or back-flips.
One of the more interesting features in SMACKDOWN is the storylines. When you choose a season, you select a wrestler and you are able to play out a certain storyline. You can have your wrestler interfere with matches that are going on at the event that he is (which can start rivalries), talk to other wrestlers that are around, win titles and more. SHUT YOUR MOUTH is probably the most in-depth wrestling game ever designed.
And where would any wrestling game be without a create-a-wrestler? Fortunately for gamers, SMACKDOWN features one of the most detailed create-a-wrestler systems that can be found. Nearly any detail can be edited on your own wrestler, from clothes, hairstyle, eye color, eyebrow color, face paint, ears; you name it, and you can edit it. And then you can also give your wrestler his or her own moves from an extremely detailed and organized move list.
WWE SMACKDOWN SHUT YOUR MOUTH is the epitome of what a wrestling game should be like. While I still prefer classic N64 gameplay to SMACKDOWN's, and there are still some kinks to work out, I'm beginning to like where THQ is going with this series. Bravo THQ. Good work.