"Believe the hype..."

Ahhh... the good ol' SmackDown series. I've played every one of them since the very first one on PS1. Looking back at SmackDown 1 and then looking at this game is crazy. It's truly amazing to see how much of a jump in technology has occurred. Anyways, ON TO THE REVIEW!

Graphics
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Wowzers. They're ****ing awesome, to put it simply. Remember the commercial for this game featuring Cena walking down to the ring? That's very close to how the actual gameplay looks. There's nothing that looks pixelated at all. The crowd looks pretty good this year, but then again, it's still not great. (But has a crowd in a game ever looked good?) During season mode the voiceovers actually match the animations of the mouth.
9/10

Gameplay
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This is a very nice flowing game. The engine has been considerably slowed down since SDvsRAW1. The option sliders allow you to make it "more arcadey" though. Personally I feel that the new sim style is great. A new feature that was added was the Stamina Meter. During the match, your superstar can get tired after performing move after move. You can recover from this by stopping moving or holding the select button. It's a very nice feature to capture the realism of the WWE. This really helps recreate the classic matches, especially when playing on the Legend difficulty. The CPU reverses moves and strikes A LOT, which can be very annoying. This too can be fixed in the option sliders. Many moves have been reanimated and added. A favorite of mine that has been reanimated would have to be Big Show's Showstopper. It was in dire need of a reanimation, seeing as the same animation was being used since SD1. Samoa Joe's Muscle Buster has been added, and it looks great. A few of the older moves have been completely removed, but it's not that big of an issue.
8/10

Features/Matches
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There's a lot of new customization options. Create-An-Entrance is a new feature. From what I've experimented with in it, it takes a while for you to be able to come up with anything that looks good. It's a cool option to mess with if you know what you're doing. A Locker Room has also been added. It's similar to "The Crib" in ESPN NFL 2K5. You purchase the WWE Legends and other extras in there. There's also the option of buying items for your room such as posters, furniture, and WWE collectibles. The extras available to unlock are numerous, but most are fairly useless. (Having to use a PSP to unlock one of them really sucks, but whatever...) There's also a few new match types in this installment of the SD series. Buried Alive is one of them. It was hyped to hell before the game came out, but sadly, it didn't completely deliver. It's a very cool match, the first few times you play it. After that, the novelty wears off, and it becomes very tiresome to play.
10/10

Story
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The Season mode has vastly improved since last year. The replay value of them has gone down a bit, but it's still okay. There's several storylines available on each brand. The last one can cross in between brands if you make the right choices. One of the SmackDown storylines continues all the way from the beginning of Season to the end. It's really great how every cutscene flows together with the match and vice versa. The GM Mode is very tiresome. It's a good experience if you have never played Extreme Warfare Revenge for the PC. GM Mode just feels like a stripped down version of EWR. It, much like Buried Alive, becomes tiresome to play after a while.
8/10

Audio
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WWE games have never been famous for having awesome audio effects. The entrance music is all authentic. The music for most wrestlers is a loop that starts over a little bit too quickly. The BGM (background music) on the menus is terrible. There's one or two good songs, the rest suck. The commentary is funny to listen to for a while, but then it becomes annoying hearing the same thing over and over. Cole and Tazz get annoying the quickest. Actually, Cole gets annoying quicker than Tazz.
6/10

Replayablilty
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There's tons. After you unlock everything, there's always online play to check out. I've played online several times and the lag was minimal. You'll be playing this game for a while.
8.5/10

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BUY OR RENT?
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Definitely buy this one if you're a wrestling fan. It comes very close to topping No Mercy, and almost does. It's a very solid game. I definitely recommend a buy. Rent it if this is the first SD or wrestling game you've played. The learning curve at first is kind of steep.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/05


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