WWF Smackdown 3: Just Bring It
Game Info
Playstation 2
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Language, Violence
The Good

• Feels like the real events
• Huge range of matches
• Great Create A Player Mode

The Bad

• Commentation stinks
• Poor scripting
• 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.

The Bad
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.

- - Vane

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