Nearly every aspect of the SmackDown! series has been improved in its latest iteration, WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth. The revamped season mode lets you take an untested wrestler through the ranks of the WWE while reliving key events that have transpired over the past year, such as the co-ownership storyline between Vince McMahon and Ric Flair and the reintroduction of the NWO. Moreover, the series' gameplay has also been drastically improved for Shut Your Mouth, with a reversal system that requires precise timing and some guesswork and smoother overall wrestling mechanics that place more emphasis on grappling than any previous game in the series. To make the overall package even more enticing for wrestling fans, the game's developer, Yuke's, has added an incredibly robust create-a-wrestler mode that allows you to customize nearly every physical aspect of a created wrestler, on down to his or her animation.
Shut Your Mouth includes dozens of options to choose from.
Of course, SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth continues the tradition of offering numerous different match types. The exhibition mode features the basic single and tag team matches, as well as the six man tag, handicap, royal rumble, king of the ring, hardcore, special, and survival options. The hardcore matches are particularly entertaining, as they can take place in a variety of different locations around the arena, such as the locker room, the VIP room, the parking lot, the rotunda, or the sidewalks outside, where traffic steadily flows by as you pummel your opponent. But if you're feeling even more adventurous than that, you can also bring the fight into a subway station complete with operating trains, inside the WWE restaurant known as The World, or into the streets of Times Square. You can choose to start a hardcore match in any of these locations, but what makes this mode especially entertaining is the fact that all these areas are connected, so you can travel between them over the course of the match. Almost all these areas contain plenty of weapons to use on your opponent, including steel chairs, foam hands, rattan canes, and even functional fire extinguishers. It's also worth noting that the royal rumble in SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth comes closer to resembling the actual event by starting it with only two wrestlers and then having an additional wrestler come in every 15 seconds or so (to keep the action brisk), although the game can only support up to six wrestlers in the ring at once.
In any case, each of these match types can be configured in a number of ways. For example, you can choose to add a tornado tag, tornado six-man tag, triple threat, fatal four way, or time limit dimension to any hardcore match. Likewise, if you select the survival match, you can change it into a four-, five-, or six-man battle royal. Some of the other match types have more basic secondary options, such as the single match, which only allows you to decide if you want to walk out with a manger or not. Most of these matches will keep you busy, but those looking for some of the more bizarre WWE match types won't be disappointed to find that there are plenty of those as well.
The exhibition mode's special option features matches that are essentially based on gimmicks. You can test your wrestling skills in steel cage, elimination, hell in a cell, I quit, ironman, ladder, last man standing, lumberjack, slobber knocker, special referee, street fight, submission, table, three stages of hell, and TLC (tables, ladders, and chairs) matches. The ladder and TLC matches are perhaps the most entertaining of all the options in the special match menu, simply because they can be so chaotic and tense. The object of these matches is to grab a belt that has been suspended from the ceiling. When you see an opponent climbing the ladder and reaching for the belt, you can either try to knock the ladder down or meet that wrestler at the top of the ladder to prevent him or her from snatching it. In Shut your Mouth, wrestlers can now grab onto and swing from the belt if they have the ladder knocked out from under them, which adds even more excitement to the proceedings. All these special matches have a different gameplay experience to offer, but some will certainly be entertained with the idea of re-creating some fondly remembered matches from the WWE days of old.
There are several regular and special matches to participate in.
Most of the matches you see in the exhibition option are blended into SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth's season mode, which loosely follows the last year of WWE programming, starting with the splitting of Raw and SmackDown! between Ric Flair and Vince McMahon and continuing past The Rock and Hulk Hogan's legendary showdown at WrestleMania X8. Upon starting the season mode, you have to select one of the preexisting male WWE superstars or a wrestler you've created. If you select a wrestler with a high number of superstar points, such The Rock or Chris Jericho, you'll immediately start wrestling on the main TV shows and participating in pay-per-view events. Conversely, if you start off with a created wrestler, you'll have a low number of superstar points, which means that you'll have to toil with other relatively unpopular wrestlers on Heat, and you won't be able wrestle in any of the pay-per-view events or get a title shot right off the bat. All that changes, though, as you continue to win matches and gain the respect of either Vince McMahon or Ric Flair.
You can monitor how many superstar points you have, or even demand a title shot, by talking to either owner in the VIP room located in the room known as the rotunda. This room is also where you can view whatever create-a-wrestler moves, alternate wrestler outfits, special movies, and arenas you've unlocked--which is accomplished by winning matches at pay-per-view events--and briefly interact with other wrestlers. You can also just wander around from a first-person perspective and explore some of the different venues in the game.
The season mode lets you relive the last year of WWE programming.
But before you can do any of that, you have to complete the Raw and SmackDown! draft. Linda McMahon opens the draft with a brief explanation of the current situation and why certain wrestlers like the undisputed champion, Undertaker, and Stone Cold Steve Austin can't participate in the draft. When she's done, you can choose to manage the draft for either SmackDown! or Raw, or you can skip the formalities and simply edit both rosters manually. It can be fun to go through the draft and see who the computer picks and adjust your choices accordingly, but most fans will probably choose to edit them manually so they'll be faithful to the WWE programming--though, the same can probably said for stables. Several of the wrestlers on both Raw and SmackDown! will be in a stable with other wrestlers, which basically means that they're aligned with each other and will occasionally interfere in matches to help their teammates out. You'll find that most of the stables, such as Goldust and Booker T, as well as the Un-Americans, are already in place, but you can choose to edit them or even add new ones that can include up to three wrestlers. You can add new stables at any time over the course of the season, but you can't edit any of the stables that were established before the season started.
The season is broken down so you usually participate in four matches every month, but if your wrestler has enough superstar points, you'll also wrestle in a pay-per-view match every month. Moreover, if you happen to win the undisputed championship, you'll have to jump in between SmackDown! and Raw, so you'll have to wrestle up to nine matches per month (including the pay-per-view matches). In some cases, you won't have to wrestle during a particular week. Instead, you might be doing an interview with Michael Cole and Tazz or just visiting the fans in The World, but even The World isn't a safe haven, as you can still be ambushed by wrestlers who are feuding with you. As previously mentioned, the season unfolds differently depending on where your wrestler is in the rankings, but it can also change depending on the responses you select when speaking with other wrestlers, announcers, or the owners.
It's incredibly cool to see events unfold in the game just as they did in the show. Watching Vince McMahon launch into a soliloquy on "killing his creation" and then turn around in his chair to reveal the NWO logo or get teary-eyed as Hulk Hogan makes his triumphant return to the Hulkamaniacs in a post-WrestleMania X8 match pose-down with The Rock will put a smile on the faces of devout WWE fans. It's also very satisfying to bring an unknown wrestler up through the ranks, but that's not to say there aren't a few very minor issues. Wrestlers you're feuding with won't always act as such when you confront them in the rotunda or the locker room. There are also some minor inconsistencies in the story line, particularly during the "search for a traitor" portion, but the biggest problem with the season mode is the fact that you'll often wrestle against the same opponents over and over, which can get somewhat tiresome. It's also disappointing to see that none of the female WWE wrestlers can be used in the season mode.
You can even bring a created wrestler up through the ranks.