WILW Games: Smackdown – Here Comes the Pain

In honor of this weeks battle at WWE Extreme Rules to determine the number one contender for Brock Lesnar’s Universal title, (it’s going to be Samoa Joe, btw), I wanted to jump back to one of my favorite wrestling games ever released, and it happens to feature Mr. Lesnar on the cover, too. Here Comes the Pain was the fifth game in the Smackdown series and the last one to just be a Smackdown game. (follow up games in the series would be branded Smackdown vs Raw and eventually just numbered yearly like other sports franchises). It was also the best in the series, in both my opinion, and in actuality. You see, before this game, the Smackdown series had been known for a faster, more arcade-like play style, which was fine, if that was your sort of thing. But for me, having been spoiled by the N64 games and the Fire Pro series, Smackdown was nothing more than a fun rental. With this release, THQ made the Smackdown series a real wrestling simulation. While not perfect, it was a damn sight better than what had come before. This was the first game in this series to not make me want to track down a 64 and play No Mercy.

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It wasn’t just the revamped grappling that made this game stand out. The season mode was expanded on from previous iterations and it just felt better. Your decisions seemed to have more of an impact on the overall story and the interactions between wrestlers felt a bit more natural. The create-a-wrestler feature was already excellent and took a few steps forward thanks to the improved graphics with this release. The submission system also finally felt real thanks to location specific damage and location specific moves. If, while playing, I did damage to my opponents legs, a meter would indicate just how beat up those legs were. Once they were in the red it was time to slap on a figure four or Texas Cloverleaf. It gave the game an element of strategy previous entries were lacking. And who can forget the Bra and Panties match? (I can. I can forget) Overall this game did as good a job as possible at the time of combining simulation and arcade gameplay styles. The roster was deep. The customization was robust enough to create almost anything or anyone you could think of and the experience of playing with friends was out of bounds. Wrestling games got fun again with Here Comes the Pain. THQ and later 2K games would go on to make improvements, both minor and major, to the formula this game started. And for that it remains one of my favorites.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully WWE puts on a great show at Extreme Rules. Hopefully we get to see Samoa Joe take on Brock Lesnar in the near future. And hopefully you can find your way to spending some time with Here Comes the Pain. I promise it’s still fun. Join me next week as we take another look at why I love professional wrestling. Until then…

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