WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain Review
Any fan of previous entries in the SmackDown! series should absolutely not hesitate to give Here Comes the Pain a try, as it is truly the best one yet.
Of all of THQ's current WWE franchises, the SmackDown! series has been around the longest. Originally debuting on the PlayStation back in the year 2000, SmackDown! was the first wrestling venture from developer Yuke's. The game provided a faster pacing and style of wrestling gameplay than the other World Wrestling Federation developer, Aki Corporation, and, while some criticized the initial SmackDown! title for this fact, over the years it has matured into the market's definitive WWE wrestling series. A mere four years after SmackDown!'s debut, Yuke's and THQ have brought to the table WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, the fifth iteration of the series. Here Comes the Pain isn't any sort of significant leap forward for the franchise, as many of the same basic mechanics found in last year's SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth are back once again. What the game lacks in innovation, however, is more than made up for in sheer playability.
Though much of the time-tested SmackDown! gameplay system has been left untouched this year, one big change has come in the form of the game's new grappling system. Grappling is a function that last year's Shut Your Mouth began to overhaul a bit, but Here Comes the Pain completely renovates the game's grappling functionality. The new system actually contains four different grappling types; they are: submission, quick, power, and signature. The way the system works is that each category is designated by a direction on the directional pad or analog stick. So, for instance, to perform a signature grapple, you would press the stick or D pad to the left and hit the grapple button at the same time. Doing so will lock up your opponent with a category-specific animation. Once you're locked up, you'll then press a direction on the stick/pad again, along with the grapple button, and then you'll perform the move. While this may seem a bit long-winded for the game's generally fast pace, it actually works pretty well. The transition animations between sequences are excellent in keeping the action moving, and the actual timing of the moves has to be pretty quick. Plus, with this system in place, you have at your disposal 16 different grappling moves per wrestler.
Aside from the grappling system, a couple of other key areas of the gameplay have gotten upgrades as well. Here Comes the Pain features a new, location-specific damage system. At the top of the screen, near your SmackDown! meter, an icon appears that shows an outline of a human body. Whenever damage is inflicted on a specific area of a wrestler, like the legs, arms, head, and/or torso, the icon will flash in the appropriate area. As you continue to work on a certain area of your opponent, that area will reflect more damage by turning yellow, orange, and eventually red. These icons give you a better idea of where you should focus your attacks and are especially helpful when locking-in submission holds. Here Comes the Pain also features an updated version of last year's reversal system. While, fundamentally, reversals work much the same way, you aren't limited to a single reversal button for gameplay. Reversals are now split up between two buttons; there's one for strikes and one for grapples. Pressing the correct button in tune with your opponent's attacks will frequently allow you to reverse an attack. This eliminates much of the guesswork from last year's grappling system, and, ultimately, it works much, much better. Reversals also look even better than ever before and transitioning between moves is as smooth as smooth can be.
Here Comes the Pain is loaded with nearly every type of conceivable match you could think of. When selecting exhibition mode, you'll be presented with a bevy of options, including single, tag, six-man tag, handicap, hardcore, royal rumble, survival, and main event matches. Main event matches are the most gimmicky type of matches and include such favorites as TLC, first blood, hell in a cell, ironman, lumberjack, special referee, cage, three stages of hell, and two new additions to WWE games, the elimination chamber and bra and panties matches. Bra and panties is a women's only match where the ultimate goal is to strip your opponent down to her unmentionables. The elimination chamber is a six-man elimination match, held within a monolithic cagelike device with four isolation casings held within. The match begins with two wrestlers going at it in the ring, as per usual, while the remaining four are each held within one of the glass isolation chambers. After a period of time elapses, one isolated wrestler will be released into the fray. Eventually, all the wrestlers will be released, and the last wrestler to survive is the winner. These new matches are very well done, and you should have a blast with them.
While all of these matches are great, the biggest draw has to be Here Comes the Pain's season mode. Very similar to last year's season mode, here you can opt to take any of the WWE superstars, or one of your own created wrestlers, through the many trials and tribulations a wrestler would face when competing in the WWE. At the beginning of the mode, you start by choosing which show you want to appear on--Raw or SmackDown!--and have the option of shuffling the rosters of each show to your liking. Once that task is complete, you are then taken to a cutscene where you'll see your wrestler walking around inside the ring, surrounded by an empty arena. He'll talk for a bit about why he does this night in and night out, and he laments about how he ultimately seeks to find himself through competition. You'll then encounter your general manager (either Eric Bischoff or Stephanie McMahon, depending on which show you choose), who gives you some words of encouragement. After that, it's off to the locker room.
- Player Reviews: 169
- Game Universe:
- WWF Raw (XBOX, 32X, GB, GG, SNES, GEN),
- WWE Crush Hour (GC, XBOX, PS2),
- WWF Royal Rumble (GEN, SNES, DC),
- WWF War Zone (N64, PS, GB),
- WWF Attitude (DC, GBC, N64, PS),
- WWF European Rampage Tour (AMI, C64),
- WWF In Your House (PC, PS, SAT),
- WWF Super Wrestlemania (GEN, SNES),
- WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 (PSP, PS2),
- WWF King of the Ring (GB, NES)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: