WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain
WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain (Known as Exciting Pro Wrestling 5 in Japan) is a video game released on the PlayStation 2 console by THQ on October 27, 2003. It is a sequel to WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth and is part of the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw series based on World Wrestling Entertainment's weekly TV show of the same name. It was the first SmackDown! game to not feature one of The Rock's catchphrases in its title. It was also the final WWE game under the Smackdown! name and it was succeeded by WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw.
Here Comes The Pain had rejuvenated the series in the eyes of many, many fans, and anticipation was unlike no other for Here Comes the Pain, a game that promised much and was slated to be the series' finest hour, with a brand new grappling system among the inclusions. THQ announced in April 2003 that they had been working on Here Comes The Pain even before the release of Shut Your Mouth, and the first pictures were released among details that the grapping system would be overhauled. Instead of the 4 moves one could pull, there were now four different stances (Power, Technical, Speed, Submission) that each had four moves, making it into 16.
This was also the first game to feature "WWE Legends" into the roster, thus starting a tradition that would follow suit with future SmackDown! titles.
This was the last WWE SmackDown! title since WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role to not feature any commentary.
The game was released in October 2003 and it was critically hailed as one of the best games in the series. The game went on to sell millions and became one of the best selling sports-related games of its time.
The game introduced a more traditional grappling system while retaining the series’ fast gameplay. This new grappling system also included were body damage meters, individual character scales that consisted of stats such as strength, endurance and speed, and submission meters for both the person applying the move and the person breaking out of the move. As well as the ability to break the submission hold when being close to the ropes.
In addition, the game does away with the audio commentary feature that was used in its predecessors WWE SmackDown! Just Bring It and WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth as well as eliminate ring announcers. The only in-game voice featured is the ref's voice, which is the same for both Earl Hebner and Mike Chioda. It would be the last game to not feature voice-over of any kind until it was fully implemented in its successor WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw.
This would be the final SmackDown! game that featured Brock Lesnar, Val Venis, Kevin Nash, and Rikishi, as well as the only WWE licensed game to feature Ultimo Dragon and Sean O'Haire as playable characters. It is also the first game in the SmackDown! series to have John Cena, Batista, Chavo Guerrero and Rey Mysterio as playable characters. This also marks the final time that Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock would appear in a SmackDown! game as non-legends, as well as the first and only game in the series to show The Rock's new tattoo. This is also the first and final game of the SmackDown! series to have Goldberg as a playable character due to his contract expiration.
The development version, though, featured Jeff Hardy, Hulk Hogan (along with his alter-ego Mr. America) and Ultimate Warrior. Hardy was removed when he left WWE for TNA. Hogan and his Mr. America character were also deleted when he left the company. Warrior was removed after he threatened the WWE with a lawsuit.
The game received favourable reviews and high scores from the critics. It gained an aggregate score of 86.46% from GameRankings based on 50 reviews, and an aggregate score of 85/100 from Metacritic based on 27 critics.
IGN rated the game a 9.1/10, calling it: "One of the best wrestling games we've ever played...With its ultra-improved gameplay mechanics, enhanced visual engine, smarter career mode, and established create-a-character feature, Yukes and THQ are definitely the track to success." GameSpot rated it a 9/10, stating: "What the game lacks in innovation, however, is more than made up for in sheer playability." Eurogamer gave the game a rating of 9/10, calling it: "A superb blend of traditional and wrestling-specific fight mechanics, and there's so much variety here that it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say you could play this one from now until the next SmackDown without getting bored or running out of things to do." 1UP.com gave the game a B+ grade, stating: "The total package is solid, and while it's not the holy grail fans have hoped for since the N64's "No Mercy," it's light-years beyond what THQ used to try and sell under the SmackDown! name."
However, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine called it: "The first game in the series that tries to accommodate both sides by combining quick action with the technical elements of wrestling, and it works -- almost."