WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth – PS2
Platform: PlayStation 2
Release Date (NA): October 31, 2002
Nerd Rating: 8/10
I am and have been a huge fan of professional wrestling. There. I said it. Are you happy? Growing up, I would tune in for Raw or Smackdown any time they’d come on air, and would be in awe any time a match would go down. I went to live events, had t-shirts, and remained very passionate about wrestling until around 2009. I still watch it from time to time now, and quite enjoy some of the active wrestlers on the roster still to this day. One product of my fanboyishnes of Pro Wrestling, of course, was wrestling video games!
Some of these haven’t aged well, are a bit unplayable, and don’t inspire much fun. On the other hand, many wrestling games, including our subject for today, gave me countless hours of raw wrestling action and still do! The fourth installment of the Smackdown! series of games, Shut Your Mouth, carries many similarities to its predecessors, but really does feel fresh and new. From the get go, the main menu is in video, and looks much more advanced than the menus of yesteryear. Flaunting many different game modes to entice any good wrestling fan, you as the gamer may not be sure where to go first! Let’s start with the standard gameplay and presentation, shall we?
The graphics in the game are very expected from a 2002 PS2 title, but they somehow feel a lot more crisp than what I remember. In my opinion, aging well, everything from faces to character models all look spot on. Entrances are all handled quite nicely and realistically, and even though the game is missing a few wrestler’s correct entrance music, it’s hard to complain about the overall look and feel of the game. As for the gameplay itself, everything is nice, easy, and lots of fun. Pulling off any sort of moves feels easy, and the gameplay never really slows down at any point.
Although lacking the fighting mechanic depth that a lot of modern wrestling titles have, there is a lot to be offered here in terms of fighting gameplay, and different moves to pull off. The commentary is also charming. Wisely choosing the team of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler over Michael Cole and Tazz, the player is blessed with utter wrestling nostalgia, looking back in awe at the charisma of the old Raw announce team. Inside and out of the ring look flawless, recreating the feel and roar of the arena to the best of the PS2’s capabilities. The fans look decent given the time period, and many of the places you can fight look just as great.
The large roster of wrestlers gives the player lots of options to choose from, and with all of the match types located in this game, you will likely spend an ungodly amount of hours just trying to play them all. From brutal hell in the cell matches, to steel cage throw downs, there is a whole lot of room to play around here. In addition to just the simple exhibition mode with all those modes, there is a story mode to the game that comes off as pretty wonderful as well. Even though being somewhat limited in terms of what you can do, you take control of a wrestler on a brand, and compete for championships. Simple, and yet enjoyable in terms of playability.
There are options for different interactions you can have backstage, but to be fair, this does get somewhat stale after a little while. Meaningless interactions with your manager and challenging random backstage opponents can become boring after a while. The story mode is a massive improvement over the one dimensional mode that its predecessor had, and Shut Your Mouth should be proud of itself for creating one of the first really decent wrestling campaign modes. The writing is decent, much of it accurately representing some wrestlers, and even the commentary through the story mode is much more bearable than in the previous installment.
Like anybody who plays these games, my favorite portion of any good wrestling game is the create mode. While better in certain respects than previous installments, these create modes leave a bit more to be desired. Still fun to create wrestlers, it still feels like there could be more options available, and this is something they really fixed in future installments. Still decent options to create all the different wacky characters you’d want, you’ll likely have hours of gameplay added on from just creating wrestlers and editing their movesets to experiment with. Throwing them into all of your favorite match types will keep you entertained for hours on end, and putting them into the story mode can be essential to enjoy the experience.
Overall, the graphics are nice for the time period, and the gameplay is fast paced, easy to access, and clean. The match types are vast and always fun to play, and the roster size and content should satisfy both newcomers and long term fans alike. The story mode does have its shortcomings, but is vastly an improvement over other wrestling games from the early 2000’s. The create mode can be a bit unsatisfying, but should still keep the gamer entertained for a good while.
Given all of these factors, I feel a Nerd Rating of 8/10 is warranted. It’s a true standout in its genre, and although a few very minor flaws poke out, it remains a game I highly recommend to any fans of wrestling or even newcomers to wrestling games given its easy accessibility.
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