We slap our handsets silly to bring you our hands-on impressions of WWE Smackdown.
The WWE SmackDown! franchise has been going strong since 2000, and its hulking stars are now being whittled down for mobile. Call it some much-needed cardio work. With six unlockable wrestlers to choose from, along with the series' obligatory create-a-superstar mode, WWE SmackDown features many of the trappings of its console counterparts.
WWE SmackDown! gives you the option of playing a single exhibition match or participating in a sort of career mode, called the main event. Although both modes pitted us against longtime WWE staples, like Booker T and Rey Mysterio, Jr., the build of the game we tested allowed play only as Charlie Haas or as our created superstar. There is no two-player mode at present.
The gameplay was roughly the same for both wrestlers, with buttons assigned for punches, kicks, and grapple moves. These controls were context-sensitive as well and performed appropriate actions against downed opponents. It must be said that some of the moves seemed to function inconsistently in the build of the game we were given. By far the most promising gameplay feature is the inclusion of two distinct special moves per character, which can be performed when a momentum meter is filled. This is the same sort of system that has predominated in console wrestling games for years, and it has been proven to work well.
Graphically, WWE SmackDown! is a far cry from its console brethren. The wrestlers have been drawn in what can only be described as a faux-polygon style, and are therefore blocky and unrecognizable. The spectacle is viewed from a fixed perspective, and you'll only ever see the superstars in profile. Fortunately, we were given the option to outfit our custom wrestler with a mask, which helps us to forget how ugly he might be underneath. Despite the simplistic visuals, slowdown was a consistent problem, and one that will hopefully be ameliorated in the month or so before SmackDown's retail release. On the other hand, the game's menu presentation is looking sleek and stylish, with every transition animated in the most "extreme" way possible.
The game's sound, while somewhat sparse, is evocative of the metal guitar riffs that compose most ring-entrance music. The splash screen intro is quite catchy, in fact. Sound in-game is mostly just a collection of disjointed screams, and there's not much in the way of crowd noise.
It's clear that SmackDown has a ways to go before it's ready for prime time. Game development happens fast and furious in the mobile world, however, and we remain hopeful about this game. Wrestling is as yet an underrepresented genre on mobile, and THQ, with a few WWE games under its (heavyweight championship) belt, is looking to change this.
- Game Universe:
- WWF Raw (XBOX, 32X, GB, GG, SNES, GEN),
- WWE Crush Hour (GC, XBOX, PS2),
- WWF Royal Rumble (GEN, SNES, DC),
- WWF War Zone (N64, PS, GB),
- WWF Attitude (DC, GBC, N64, PS),
- WWF European Rampage Tour (AMI, C64),
- WWF In Your House (PC, PS, SAT),
- WWF Super Wrestlemania (GEN, SNES),
- WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 (PSP, PS2),
- WWF King of the Ring (GB, NES)
- Number of Players: