Hands-onWWF SmackDown! Just Bring It Story Mode

We take a look at the improvements that SmackDown! Just Bring It! makes over the last installment's story mode.

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We've been spending a lot of time with a playable build of THQ's upcoming WWF: SmackDown! Just Bring It, giving you a daily look at the special moves and entrances for each of your favorite wrestlers. We've also had a chance to explore the enhanced story mode, which promises to accurately portray the intrigue, excitement, and all the comic moments that make the WWF so entertaining. Like SmackDown! 2, WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It will feature an open-ended story mode where you can have your favorite wrestlers backstab your enemies, form alliances, and foster relationships, just like on the shows.

Many players were irked by the tedium in SmackDown! 2's story mode, primarily due to the slowly decreasing life bars, which you were forced to watch during match simulations. SmackDown! Just Bring It has apparently removed this aspect of the story mode by featuring only those segments of each house show, televised broadcast, or Pay-Per-View that involves your controlled wrestler. Each event opens with a montage of close-up images of wrestlers executing trademark moves or taunts, some of which are particularly well done and invigorating to watch. The first episode of Raw is War we played opened with a shot of Stone Cold Steve Austin arguing with The Rock, which eventually escalated to a fistfight. We then saw a number of other memorable shots, the most impressive of which was a side-by-side shot of The Brothers of Destruction, Undertaker and Kane, raising their fists in true dramatic fashion. Some sequences we saw were a bit bland, while others, like Edge & Christian's vicious con-chair-to and the love scene between Spike Dudley and Molly Holly, were an absolute blast to watch.

Playing through the story mode with your character will let you follow that wrestler behind the scenes and make all the calls when he or she is confronted with a decision. Our first match on Raw started in the halls backstage, where Vince McMahon, who offered our superstar a tag team title shot in exchange for a favor, confronted our wrestler. We had the option either to defy Mr. McMahon, after which he would then attack us in an attempt to weaken us before the night's eight-man battle royal, or to find a tag partner to go up against the current champs, in this case, Undertaker and Kane. Being able to roam the different areas backstage, the parking lot, the boiler room, and other areas to look for other participants in the storyline added a sense of freedom that greatly contributed to our ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy the badly translated storyline. Hopefully the final version of WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It's dialogue sequences will be more smoothly translated. We watched and participated in only two matches during each story mode event, both of which our wrestler was involved in. Each of the matches was spaced between story sequences wherein our wrestler would either cheer after the victory, stumble away in pain, or confront a personality such as Michael Cole or Commissioner William Regal.

One of the most interesting things about the new story mode is the addition of SmackDown secret cards, which you earn as you progress through your superstar's storyline. The menu screen you can visit to view these secret cards shows that a huge number can be earned, which will presumably unlock new wrestlers, new single-player venues, new match types, and more. We've had a chance to take a look at some of the hidden wrestlers, and without giving away too much, we will say that some of your favorite stars from other federations may be making appearances in SmackDown! Just Bring It. Take a look at the movies and screenshots of the story mode sequences and menu screens we've put together for your perusal, and stay tuned to GameSpot for the latest on this exciting wrestling game.

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