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     " Allowing you to fairly well blunder your way through matches without getting you totally creamed "

      Title: Smack Down 2: Know your Role by THQ

      Format: Wrestling Game for the Playstation

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: Hardcore matches galore in this rip roaring slobber-knocker of a game. Sporting tons of new matches like the "Hell in a Cell", and some of the old favorites, break out the beer and raise those middle fingers for this sequel wrestling game.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: The character modeling for this game is middling to good for the most part. All the superstars tend to be rather blocky, but their effigies come off well. Some character effects that look good standing up (like long hair) can become rather silly when the character is knocked down though. The arena backgrounds are rather pitiful, with a cardboard cut out audience, albeit the signs they hold up (which are personally related and customizable to your superstar) are a nice touch. The backstage areas fare better, albeit everything is still very blocky. There are a few clipping problems, but they're quite ignorable. 3 out of 5

      Sound: The sound for this game is excellent. The music for the appropriate wrestlers' entrance is taken straight from the show (with a few exceptions, like Undertaker's Kid Rock theme, Pesky copyright lawyers). The non-specific music is also appropriately action oriented, setting a good mood for the game. The in match sound effects are all appropriate, with hard hits, smacks, whaps, thwaps, slams, blams, and I'm pretty sure a couple of zort's (all presented in big jagged edged colorful pop ups... no wait that's Batman), even better, no voice acting to ruin the ambiance. 5 out of 5

      Game Play: When they promise tons of hard-core matches, they deliver, my fellow monkeys. Tables Ladders and Chairs matches, to cage matches, to Slobber Knockers (where you have to defeat opponent after opponent until they drag you sorry carcass from the ring). All sorts of your favorite WWF matches are here and quite playable. The season mode has made a major leap from Smack Down 1, with far more intricate story lines. There are still some times you won't be in it, and some title matches are quite elusive though. The game allows all sorts of things to be created, from your own personal superstar to your own personal taunts. The taunt editor is incredibly versatile, using a type of morph engine to move the animation smoothly. The system is full without being complex. While it may take a while to get the hang of controlling what move you do, it's not at all hard to jump in and start doing moves. 4 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: Well, the main arena is a just that, so not much there. However there are several backstage areas to explore in some of the hard-core matches, and all of them are quite well designed. Even the main ring has its high points; with announce tables down towards the bottom (and yes you -can- put people through the announce tables!). The environments all look appropriate, and are a lot of fun to tramp about in. Weapons for your destructive pleasure are also strewn about in their appropriate places. 4 out of 5

      Multiplayer: Now this, monkey friends is one hell of a party game. Gather four of your friends together, and your trusty multi-tap and you've got a spankin' good time. The variety of matches and superstars to choose from insure that everybody will be able to play something they like (well, as long as they like wrestling games, but if they don't... well go lay the smack down on 'em). Even the season mode is easily enjoyable for multiple people. Beware though, the season mode won't necessarily pit players against each other, so be prepared to watch somebody else's match. 4.5 out of 5

      Replayability: Well, to be honest the play never really stops. The season mode features wrestlers who have drunk of the bloody fountain of youth, and therefore goes on forever with ever changing story lines. This is of course a good thing. Although people looking to "beat" the game may be a bit disappointed. If you get bored of your character create a new one and enter them into the fray, maybe you can even pick a fight with your old self. All of your moves, and even your appearance are customizable so you can just change yourself if you don't like it. So although technically, the game should get a very low score for no replayability, I've never been one for TKOs. 3.5 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: The story lines in this game are fairly nice. My characters' entrance into the WWF was marked by a near attempt to run him over. Unfortunately some of the story lines (like that one) sort of putter out, however, unlike its predecessor a goodly amount of the story lines actually features your character. The * ahem * 'dialogue' is all very simplistic though. Mostly consisting of a generalized statement, which is then used by whichever character is there to use it. Still it's fairly fun to watch your superstar come out and provoke someone (unless of course he provokes someone he can't win against, then it's time to curse his name). 3 out of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions are decent at best. While they explain the basics of what everything does, they don't really go into specifics at all. And a lot of special match controls just aren't explained properly at all. It's really aggravating to lose a cage match because you don't know how to get down off the cage. Picking moves and knowing when to use them can be a bit of a chore, but the game does help out by showing examples of what all of the moves do. Thus allowing you to choose from what looks cool and does lots of damage, as opposed to what sounds cool (as was the case in Smack Down 1). Getting the hang of when to do what shouldn't take too long though, and the game is rather learner friendly, allowing you to fairly well blunder your way through matches without getting you totally creamed. 3 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: Well, I've seen better graphics on a Playstation, but maybe they crammed too much on this one. Load times are -horrendous-, which is probably the only major problems with the game. The problem is most clear when playing a royal rumble (where you eliminate your opponents one by one as new ones replace the old), where the game loads sometimes every ten seconds. With a twenty-second load time every ten seconds the match quickly becomes tedious. It's quite annoying to wait through a 30 second load screen to see a cut scene involving a wrestler you don't care about so they can tell you they're satisfied with a victory you never saw. 2 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       For those who loved Smack Down, Know your Role is a must have. Just about everything is better from one game to the next. Better story lines and involvement in them, far better create a superstar options, just overall better. For the plain wrestling fan, this still makes a damn fine wrestling game choice. Multiplayer will keep you and your wrestling buddies very entertained, and season mode will keep the show interesting.

      The Good: Great involvement, lots of personal input for the player. Loads of rasslin' fun!

      The Bad: Horrible load times, rather bad learning curve and instructions.

      The Overall Ugly: Good clean wrestling fun (well, if you don't count Chyna's low blow... or half the other moves in the game)!

      What it's Worth: Probably $40.00

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