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WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain (PlayStation 2) artwork

WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain (PlayStation 2) review

"I’ve been an avid fan of wresting for about six years now. I’ve also been a fan of video games with the same setting for just as long. In all honesty, WWF Attitude was so enjoyable it made me start watching the actual show. With all the recent advancements I can say without a doubt that “Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain.” is the single best wrestling game out there. "

I’ve been an avid fan of wresting for about six years now. I’ve also been a fan of video games with the same setting for just as long. In all honesty, WWF Attitude was so enjoyable it made me start watching the actual show. With all the recent advancements I can say without a doubt that “Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain.” is the single best wrestling game out there.

For returning fans, you are going to see a lot of changes playing this, even in the first five minutes. As usual, THQ has updated their roster with WWE’s newest stars, but they’ve also added several legends like The Iron Sheik, Hawk, Animal and a few others. A new engine has been designed, obviously, as the character constructions and likenesses are flawless enough to make you stop blinking. Tiny rendering details, like the way Triple H spits water, and the way their hair actually moves instead of looking like stapled on cardboard is a nice addition. The create-a-wrestler mode continues to grow, with more options and more apparel then they’ve ever had previously. But the most notticable thing now is the experience points. If you distribute them wisely, your wrestler’s over all ability will be around 45. And to give you some idea of how they will match up, the biggest superstars like Triple H, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar are between 85 and 93. So it’s safe to say you have your work cut out for you.

While everything else in the game has taken tiny steps towards improvement, the mechanics and actual game play have taken a huge stride forward. In previous Smackdowns, it was merely a race. To see who could accumulate the first finisher and pin his opponent after he landed it. That’s not so here. You actually have to think somewhat on this one, and have to act like a real wrestler would. An icon has been placed next to each wrestlers life bar: a simple body form that starts out as blue. But as you work on certain parts of the body, this icon will change from blue to yellow and finally red, corresponding with the body part that has taken the most damage. For example, if you continue to pummel your opponents’ head, eventually the icon’s head will change colors. You have four options as to which you can leave your wrestler wounded: The head, the torso, arms and legs. After a while they begin to show the effects, limping around, holding their stomach, or even being busted open. Yes the blood is back, but only on the head. The grappling mode has also been tweaked immensely. In previous games you had your choice of eight read moves: Four regular and four groggy. Now you have a choice of sixteen. When you pushed a direction and the circle button, your wrestler would perform one of his moves. Now instead that combination of buttons leads you to a signature grapple, where your wrestler locks up with the other. From this point you choose the direction, press the circle button again and then the move is performed. Each direction on the d-pad leads to a different grapple, and each grapple has four moves. (See? Sixteen.)

Also, the Elimination Chamber has been added. Six superstars total can compete, just like in real life. Two start out and the other four are locked in glass chambers. The structure is well designed and the environment acts as a weapon itself. You can shatter your opponent into the glass, climb to the top of the chamber and drop down to one of your adversaries (just pray you don’t miss, or you’ll do more damage to yourself) scale the walls or even fling someone into the waiting chains. The most exciting thing about it is that the releases are random, so not even you know who is going to come out next.

In five years, the Smackdown franchise has made significant strides in providing the best wrestling entertainment available. “Here comes the pain” follows that trend. As much as I miss some of the earlier things done in the first parts of the series so many new, positive changes have been added that it would be hard to dismiss this game as being the best. Not only the best Smackdown to date, but the best wrestling game out there. “The absolute best ever.”

Graphics: Brilliant. The new engine is outstanding, and the character rendering is ominously life like.

Game play: While it may take a few minutes for you to readjust yourself to the new grapple mode, it soon becomes second nature.

Fun factor: Wrestling games never get old, especially if you like to build your own feuds with people you don’t typically get to see wrestle. And the career mode is finally back where it was.

Replay Value: I can play this game almost every day for the entire year it takes the new version to come out, even long after I’ve cleared the career mode.

Sound: While I miss the announcers and the voice-overs, the mechanics of wrestlers hitting the mat and entrance music has never….er… sounded better.

Overall rating: 8.5/10

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Community review by True (April 29, 2005)

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