History of WWF/E Games Part 20
Time to look at the first Playstation WWF Game from THQ.
WWF Smackdown was a TV show that the WWF added to there schedule back in 1999. WWF RAW was so popular that a second prime time TV show was seen as a no brainer. Smackdown was a huge ratings hit, and is still on the air to this day. It was The Rock who came up with the phrase “Smackdown”.
WWF Smackdown was the first game released for the Playstation by THQ. WWF Smackdown would be the first game in a series that would see eleven installments before the series was renamed WWE 12, 13 and so on.
One other thing I want to add was the pre-order bonus that this game had here in the UK. You did not get some exclusive in game content like you get these days, but instead you just got a pretty cool Smackdown T-shirt. I always liked these kind of things as a pre-order bonus, and I think they are much better than in game store exclusive content today.
The first time I saw a picture of Smackdown in GamesMaster magazine here in the UK I was really surprised at how “real” the wrestlers looked. Not only that, but at the time the on screen shots were shown there was no name bars, health bars, or anything else on the screen.
The wrestlers themselves at the time looked amazing. They had what was referred to as realistic hair effects. Truth be told these days the hair effects look really weird. All of the roster looked pretty good, and they did a really great job of giving each wrestler there own little mannerisms. The only big downfall in the presentation of the wrestlers was the entrances. Gone are the realistic ones from WWF Attitude. Instead you see your wrestler walking in front of there entrance video.
The arenas look amazing too. I would even go as far to say that they look better than the ones in Wrestlemania 2000 on the Nintendo 64. The arenas are full of fans going wild, and when you hit moves you see lots of little flashes as if the fans are taking pictures. One really cool feature that they added to the arenas was something that was actually not a realistic one. Smackdown would let you put logos from various WWF pay-per-views actually on the ring mat. While the WWF has only ever done this a few times in real life I though this was a really awesome little feature that they added.
Sadly the sound is a bit of a let down in this game. There is absolutely zero commentary, and zero dialog spoken by the wrestlers. So while the game does have a story mode, all the information you get is through text boxes. Some of the little back stage sceens that you see are good, but some voice acting would have made them even better.
WWF Smackdown played completely different from WWF Attitude and Wrestlemania 2000, but not in a bad way. Smackdown’s game play was really fast, and it was actually quite a shock the first time I played it. Smackdown feels just like a arcade game. The controls are incredibly simple, and you have a great selection of moves. Anyone could pick up this game and pull of various moves. One huge thing Smackdown did that no other WWF game had done was let you go backstage and wrestle. This was pretty fun and you could go in the locker rooms or the kitchen, and other backstage areas to fight.
There are a great amount of game modes to play through. Season mode is a little bit weird, but it does feature back stage segments. Unfortunately as there is no spoken dialog it loses some of its appeal. One of my favourite features about Smackdown was the WWF Championship tracking. All the titles in the game kept a record, and when you played exhibition matches wrestlers would move up the rankings in order to get closer to a WWF Championship match. This was a lot of fun, and it made playing exhibition matches much more interesting.
Multi player was a lot of fun too. My friends and I really loved playing the “I Quit” match which was a brand new match type introduced in this game. The idea was that you would need to beat your opponent so bad that you would force them to quit.
WWF Smackdown was a tremendous start to this long running series. The developers managed to capture the charm of the WWF perfectly. This was a great time to be a wrestling and video game fan. Both the Nintendo 64 and Playstation had great wrestling games that offered a different experience.
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