|Mild Language, Violence
| The Good
Feels like the real events
Huge range of matches
Great Create A Player Mode
| The Bad
Story Mode is fairly linear
No analog control
Much like in real life, the videogame competition between
the WWF and it's nearest competitors has always been a little
lopsided. While the WCW and the ECW have put out games, they've
never really been as good as the WWF games. This third installment
of the Smackdown line of games is the first to grace the PS2
with promises of numerous match types, single player story
mode and a lot of multiplayer action.
Visually, the game does manage to take a step up from it's
PS predecessors. The character's facial models are excellent
(which is even more evident by the huge range of facial features
in the Create A Wrestler Mode) and for the most part, the
bodies look good. Each of the models look close to the originals
and are distinguishable by even casual fans. Shirtless wrestlers,
on the other hand, are a little rough looking, as the blocky
polygons don't translate to smooth muscle all that well. The
presentation and arenas, in particular, bring across a strong
familiarity with the live shows. Cutscenes and character entrances
are shot to mimic the live event and do well at it. While
backstage areas feel a little sparse, they are a nice change
of pace to being stuck in the ring the whole time.
Smackdown 3 really tries to bridge the gap between
single player and multiplayer. There are a huge variety of
matches that you can perform in, ranging from tag matches
to King of the Ring and Hell in a Cell. If you're playing
Single Player, you can perform in a Story Mode, which acts
like a season mode in other sports games, except that you
get a few choices along the line. During matches, allies and
enemies can come down to interfere. I will say that it was
nice to finally have a ref that did more than stand around
like window dressing. When outside the ring, you can be thrown
into the crowd or make your way back to more "out of the ring"
locations. The Create A Wrestler Mode is deep and allows a
lot of customization.
Pulling off moves is fairly easy, if you know what you're
doing. Those who rent this game without a manual will have
no idea what button does what until they spend a few tires
getting beat down by the computer. The only thing I wish was
present would have been a control tutorial to help teach new
gamers to videogame wrestling how to pull off moves without
resorting to serious button mashing. Moving around the ring
with the D-Pad (there is NO analog control) is stiff
and sometimes less than great. When in a fight and turned
away from the enemy, hitting the D-Pad to turn around sometimes
make you step back instead of putting you face-to-face.
All I can say about this is that the audio gets old really
quick. While the music and character intros are dead on and
the sound effects during fights are decent, the rest of the
audio is fairly annoying. The sound effects in the menus start
to get on your nerves after a few minutes. The biggest problem
is the "cut and paste" commentary, which feels more like an
unfunny Mad Lib than play-by-play. Ex: "[Insert wrestler's
name] has a devastating [insert special move]." The lines
that aren't piecemeal are bland and so generic that they lack
any personality. You'll want to turn down the volume no more
than thirty minutes into the game.
Aside from the Audio problems, there are a number of small
issues that seriously detract from what this game could be.
The story mode, even with a few choices, is fairly linear.
Once you play through it a few times, you'll grow tired of
it. Some randomness in the Story Mode could have given it
longer life. Also, the conversations are slow (most noticeably
because of the long pauses between lines and the fact that
characters mouth the same period of time no matter what is
actually being said). Originally, I would have thought that
voice-overs would have been nice, but seeing how poorly the
script is written, I think not having them was a better choice.
Outside of the lack of analog control, the only real problem
during matches is the obvious uselessness of submission moves.
Pulling one off rarely leads to a win. While pulling off a
Sharpshooter may be cool to do, it's less effective in winning
a match as just punching your opponent a few times.
SmackDown 3 is a decent wrestling game that fans of
the series or wrestling in general will enjoy. There is a
lot of variety in match types and the multiplayer portions
are pretty fun. If you're not big on wrestling, this game
will wear on your patience quickly. Consider this a rental
for when friends come over and all you want to do is beat
up on each other.