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WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It
Preview By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:  Yukes
Publisher:  THQ
Genre:  Wrestling
# of Players:  1-4
Est. Release:  October 2001
Posted:  9-25-01

What a position THQ is in. In just a handful of years, the publisher went from a moderately average company with a decent title here and there to a huge mainstream player in the business, releasing strong title after strong title. Of course, most of this probably wouldn’t have happened had they not secured the lucrative WWF license two years ago. Along with titles on the N64, THQ managed to squeeze two WWF games out of the aging PSone hardware, under the name WWF Smackdown. While they games may have turned off more hardcore purists of wrestling with it’s light, up-tempo gameplay, it’s plethora of modes and wrestlers still had the game as a top ten seller for months on end. THQ and developer Yukes are back in action with the third gem in the series, WWF Smackdown! Just Bring It. JBI may not look like a huge overhaul of the first game, but that’s not such a bad thing considering how the game is shaping up so far.

Just Bring It will play nearly identical to its two predecessors. If you’re used to the same fighting-game style tap-tap-tap gameplay of Smackdown 2, then you’ll feel right at home. Returning again is the fast, quick paced ‘rasslin from the PSone incarnations, featuring over 1,000 separate moves to win your wrestler the WWF Championship Belt. New counters and reversals are being implemented too. The game’s animation quality has increased as well, so thanks in part to the powerful PS2 hardware, the movements of each wrestler should look much, much smoother and realistic than the somewhat jumpy and choppy animation of the first two games.

The game will also present the fans with a staggering 70 modes of play. Of course, most of them are slight alterations and mixes of amounts of wrestlers in the ring, but even the thought of a near endless combination of matches is a wrestling fan’s wet dream. Hell In a Cell, Cage, TLC – you name it, Just Bring It has it. On top of this, JBI will contain an improved career mode that is set to have even more dramatics to replicate the soap opera storyline seen every week on TV. More backstage altercations and environments are in the cards as well.

Visually, JBI is a mixed bag. While by no means is it ugly, JBI still leaves a little bit to be desired. The polygon count in each wrestler doesn’t really appear to have been upped a lot. The textures have been smoothed out and look much better than the original Smackdown!, but compared to the Xbox’s Raw Is War, they pail in comparison. Still, Just Bring It does have a few aces up its sleeve, featuring some incredible new lighting and shadowing in all aspects of the game. The game has the best entrances I’ve ever seen in a wrestling game. The camera angles, mannerisms and music are all done to perfection. From Stone Cold’s strut to the ring to The Rock closing his eyes and "smelling" the intensity on top of the ring post, JBI gets down and dirty with each entrance detail.

Despite no real huge addition or noticeable improvement, WWF Smackdown! Just Bring it is on track to be one of the year’s hottest titles. The series has always needed just a little bit of extra polish, and JBI appears to be just that. Be ready to Bring It come the game’s release.

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