reviews\ Dec 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm

WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth - PS2 - Review

Things have changed in the world of professional wrestling.  For one thing, the World Wresting Federation franchise is now the World Wrestling Entertainment franchise and since then, champions have fallen and those wrestlers that have been stuck in the bottom have now been elevated to star status.  In WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, it’s an all-out war between wrestlers and the fans couldn’t be happier.


THQ managed to offer gamers a really solid wrestling title with WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It, although the game was far from perfect.  This time, though, the game designers took note of all the flaws and managed to rectify them with Shut Your Mouth.  And, as an added bonus, they also included a Season Mode that is more in-depth than the Story Mode found in Just Bring It.


All the great match types are available in the game’s Exhibition Mode.  Gamers will find everything from various tag team types (tornado tag or even tag teams with managers thrown in to the mix) to special matches that include Cage, Ironman, Lumberjack, Slobber Knocker or Ladder matches.   There’s also huge event types such as the Royal Rumble (where you toss superstars out of the ring), King of the Ring (eight wrestler in one ring), Hardcore (an anything goes match) and Survival (pits you against multiple opponents).


Season Mode, the game’s story mode, really, takes a male superstar (even one you created) through a story-driven season of the WWE.  It seems that Rick Flair and Vince McMahon have split the franchise into two brands, the RAW and SmackDown brand.  Their dispute turns official when they start drafting superstars into their brand--and depending whose side you’re on, you become part of the ever-unfolding story.  The story takes your superstar through weeks of fights while events trigger around you--like the appearance of Stone Cold Steve Austin.  You can also interact with characters outside the ring and what you say might spark a quick fight in the parking lot or other outdoor locations.


Control-wise the game has been nicely polished since Know Your Role and Just Bring It.  A superstar’s specialty move is a lot easier to execute and you won’t find yourself repeating the same set of moves either.  While you can focus your attention on other wrestlers, the focus doesn’t completely--and frustratingly--become a struggle as it did in Just Bring It (where you would often accidentally pound on the referee when all you wanted to do is attack your opponent).  Here, the referee doesn’t interfere as much, thus is not as likely to become the unwilling victim of a piledriver or a swift kick to the ribs. 


The game’s roster is also pleasingly filled with a total of sixty superstars that include favorites like The Rock and Triple H to recent grapplers like Booker T and Brock Lesnar.  The ladies of wrestling have also increased in its lineup and now include Vince’s daughter Stephanie McMahon, Stacey Keibler, Torrie Wilson and Jazz.  And if that wasn’t enough, you can create your own superstar through the excellent Create Mode that has you designing your superstar down to the littlest details (e.g. eye color, nose size or costumes) as well as create your own animation for things like walking and dancing.


Visually, the game hasn’t really improved all that much.  The arenas are still beautifully detailed and even more so thanks to the flashy glitz of pyrotechnics, giant screens that flash real-life video intros of each superstar and the crowds of fans pumping their fists into the air or proudly lifting up their homemade signs.  The superstars themselves, though, are what needed a shot in the arm.  Sure Stephanie McMahon looks exactly like her facially, but the game slims her down so much that gamers that don’t know her will be wondering what a scrawny girl like her is doing in a ring filled with athletically well proportioned women. Other visual flaws tend to come up as well, but it is not enough that gamers will be rolling their eyes at. 


With the exception of the fact that the wrestling superstars in this game are not given voices, the game’s sound feels authentically like an actual WWE televised event.  Welcome is the ring announcer that introduces the superstar as they enter the ring with their introduction music playing on the arena’s booming speakers.  Thankfully, the two-man commentary teams of Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross are never annoying, as was the case with Tazz and Michael Cole in Just Bring It.  And all the same sound effects are back (e.g. wrestler slamming down on a canvass).         


Shut Your Mouth delivers all the right moves to more than satisfy wrestling fans and those gamers eager to brawl their way through plenty of great modes.  There is enough here to keep gamers really busy for some time and, thanks to the slight improvements, will be something of a fan favorite.     


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 8.6
The controls are a lot more solid this time around and gamers will find that things that were unnaturally difficult to do in Just Bring It will find things neatly improved.  For one thing, it’s easier to execute individual superstar’s specialty moves and tagging your tag team partner is no longer an arduous guessing game.  Moves can be easily countered too this time around and there is nothing more satisfying than reversing a move and performing your own.


Shut Your Mouth also moves along smoothly, keeping the action as fluidly as a televised event.  You can just as easily take the fight from the arena to the outside lobby.  You can also use of items laying around such as metal bars (which bend after repeatedly striking an opponent with it) and fire extinguishers (you can slam an opponent’s head with it or release the extinguisher’s contents right his or her face.


Graphics: 8.5
The impressive arenas are amazingly well detailed and nicely designed to fit the event type such as WrestleMania and Rebellion.  If a fight breaks out in front of the ticket booths, gamers will notice how the smooth surface of the floor reflects the light overhead.  Inside the arena, the fans wildly cheer you on as they wave their signs . . . it’s amazing to look around you and see a sea of moving fans.


While many of the superstars look true to their real-life counterparts, certain imperfections make you realize how things could have been handled a little better.  Sometimes a wrestler’s hand fazes right through an opponent’s body as he or she lifts the opponent up to slam down on the canvas.  Still, skin textures and muscle tone do look realistic and notable characteristics--such as Booker T’s wild eyes, add an especially nice touch. 


Sound: 6.2
While it would have been great hearing Hollywood Hogan tell kids to eat all their vitamins again, maybe it’s a good thing the superstars didn’t lend their voices.  The text dialogue is somewhat awkward thanks to a rough translation, but that didn’t stop the two-man commentator team from delivering their lines perfectly--although some of their comments are kind of strange (e.g. “Don‘t hurt the puppies!”).


WWE fans will love the superstar introductions by the announcer who also announces the winner of each fight.  To top things off, each superstar has his or her own theme song that plays as they make their way to the ring.  There are tunes here by Rob Zombie, Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Manson and Cypress Hill.


Difficulty: Medium
Pinning your opponents for a three count is not an easy feat since the computer-controlled grapplers are skillful enough to counter your attacks or reverse a move or pin.  There are also much stronger wrestlers that are harder to defeat with certain characters.  Naturally, somebody like Eddie Guerrero can’t possibly trash somebody as powerful as The Big Show without putting up a real fight.


Concept: 8.9
You have really got to love a game that just piles on the game types and game modes and Shut Your Mouth has all the game matches seen in a televised event.  Everything is here from a Slobber Knocker match to a Royal Rumble match.  The Create Mode really allows gamers to get as creative as they want to when creating their male or female grapplers who show up in the rosters in the Exhibition Mode as well as Season Mode.


Multiplayer: 9.0
With the aide of the Multitap, up to six players can play the game and take each another on in massive events such as six-man tag matches or the even more massive brawl-fest Royal Rumble.  This is the perfect party game for those gamers that love wrestling and since there are sixty superstars to choose from, the fun will be inventing your own dream tag team match ups.


Overall: 8.8
A far more improved game since the last outing, Shut Your Mouth is the kind of game wrestling fans can really get into and with a massive lineup of grapplers, this is the perfect game to share with a large group of friends.  I highly recommend you pick this one up.


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