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banner Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 18:17 GMT
Let's play: WWF SmackDown!
BBC Sport Online reviewer David Gibbon says the latest instalment of wrestling game 'WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It' wipes the floor with the competition.

Men prancing around in leotards doesn't exactly sound like a thrill-a-minute, action-packed adventure.

But the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) has become something of a phenomenon thanks to characters like Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock.

With their behind-the-scenes storylines, theatrical performances in the ring and colourful, ahem, leotards, they have helped create a multi-million pound empire owned by the menacing Vince McMan.

Thanks to its huge success, a series of wrestling video games have been spawned under the name SmackDown.

  WWF SmackDown!
Format: PlayStation 2
Price: 44.99
Publisher: Acclaim
Genre: Wrestling
Also Available: N/A

This, the first edition to be exclusively released for the PlayStation 2, is the latest and looks destined to be battling it out with Harry Potter for this year's Christmas number one slot.

Everything in the world of wrestling is way over the top and this game conveys it better than ever before.

From the ring entrances to the expanded storyline mode, it is the most authentic WWF video game ever.

Just Bring It is the third instalment in the series.

It gives the player 36 wrestlers to choose from at the start - and more can be unlocked during the storyline mode.

Grapples

Each one looks stunning - thanks to some clever motion capture and the talents of many experienced artists.

Steve Austin really does look like Steve Austin - and the TV-style entrances are impeccably re-created, complete with signature tune.

WWF Smackdown
The wrestlers are very realistic

Each wrestler has the ability to use weapons and run and perform a variety of strikes and grapples.

For those who have played Smackdown games in the past, this one uses a near-identical control system.

Getting an opponent into a grapple, for example, relies heavily on timing and guessing the correct distance needed between yourself and your foe.

Do it right and you'll pull off a successful move - do it wrong and you'll be left clutching at air!

A small number of changes have been implemented since the last incarnation of Smackdown.

Most of the wrestlers now have a pair of finishing moves - though more established contenders such as Stone Cold and Triple H stick with just one.

A large number of game modes and matches are available, including 'hell in a cell', cage matches (for up to six men) and royal rumbles.

Off-beat matches are also here - including a bra and knickers battle! But perhaps the one most will enjoy more than any other is the brilliantly executed storyline game.

  Gibbon's verdict
Graphics: 84%
Playability: 87%
Sound: 78%
Realism: 86%
Overall: 87%

With this you play from a first-person viewpoint as you work your way up to the WWF Championship belt.

Countless areas can be explored - from the ring, backstage, dressing rooms and even nearby restaurants.

The only real flaw with this game is that it uses the same engine as the last Smackdown so it doesn't take full advantage of the PlayStation 2 technology.

The crowd looks flat and the hair on each wrestler is poor.

But these niggles aside, wrestling fans will find this is still the best of its type and wipes the floor with the competition.

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