First Details: WWF Smackdown

Currently in Las Vegas for a THQ product unveiling, reviews editor Jeff Gerstmann has phoned in the first details of THQ's WWF Smackdown for the Sony PlayStation. Based on an advanced version of the Toukon Retsuden 4 (a Japanese wrestling game from Yukes) engine, the game looks surprisingly good. And other editors on location in Las Vegas claim it may be the best-looking and best-animated wrestling title ever.

WWF Smackdown will offer gamers more than 30 selectable wrestlers. So far, we've seen: Road Dogg, Mankind, Kain, Bradshaw, The Rock, Al Snow, Farooq, Big Show, Mr. Ass, D'lo Brown, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Big Boss Man, Paul Bearer, Tori, X-pac, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, The Undertaker, China, Hard Core Holly, Christian, The Hardy Boys, and Jeff Jarrett.

WWF Smackdown also features a story mode that seems more advanced than similar modes in any other wrestling game we've seen. The story mode makes you feel as though you're watching the real WWF. For example: Say you're standing backstage between matches when all of a sudden two rival wrestlers come out of nowhere and start brawling with you. To ensure its wild authenticity, the real WWF crew has captured video and sound bytes for these segments. It's really neat to have the expansive story mode in the game - you never know who could become your next friend or enemy.

Another neat feature we've found with Smackdown is that during a match you can go backstage by walking down the ramps and actually walk through the doors. So far we've seen a parking lot, a boiler room, and a locker room.

WWF Smackdown also includes a "create a wrestler" mode, which is popular in wrestling games these days. This lets you scale a wrestler's width and height with sliding control bars. Also, there is a bunch of standard preset sample graphics you can use to customize your wrestler. Want Mankind's head on your guy's body? Just click and drag his head over to the body. Other modes we've come across are a cage mode and a royal rumble mode.

WWF Smackdown looks like it could be the biggest and baddest wrestling game yet. Be assured that we'll bring you more on this game in the near future