Lately I’ve been playing WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, the fifth WWE game for the Playstation platforms–this one PS2.
We play video games for different reasons. To relax. To experience. To interact. Some players enjoy video games for their competitive aspects. Some enjoy becoming apart of a piece of cinematic storytelling
For me, video games give me the opportunity to relax while flexing my creative muscles. I can get competitive, I can enjoy a cinematic experience or a long involving story, but for the majority of my game playing I’m looking for ways to be creative or I’m looking for ways to relax.
Wrestling games fulfill both goals for me. As a fan of wrestling I enjoy the games as a way to fantasy book, as a way to create characters, and as a way to relax as I beat the living fuck out of virtual people. Here Comes the Pain is one of the finest examples of professional wrestling games.
I’ve written about this game so I won’t go into intricate detail, but I will say that I like this game more than I did when I originally played it. Initially I disliked the difficulty, and really disliked the added emphasis of superstars’ ratings. It makes fantasy booking difficult when defeating Brock Lesner with Ultimo Dragon was nearly impossible unless you played perfectly.
Returning to the game now, and I’m specifically talking about the game’s season mode, I understand and appreciate the difficulty more. I get why it’s there. If you want an easy time, you play Brock Lesner or Goldberg or Triple H or Stone Cold etc. But if you want a challenge, you need to realize that you will job to the bigger guys. It’s why you’re there, after all, as the little guy.
The game’s upgrade system allows you to feel a rewarding pride once you’ve finally beaten Brock Lesner, Big Show, or whomever was giving you trouble. You can upgrade your chosen character’s attributes by spending experience points (which you earn through winning matches or choosing correctly in backstage dialogue scenarios) and you can alter their movesets to create a more viable character.
I guess I never thought of this second option when I was younger? With Ultimo Dragon I can’t really lift characters like Big Show or Brock, who I was to fight almost weekly, and that was a problem because he has a lot of moves picking people up in his default movelist. I also ended up playing him like a submissions expert, tapping wrestlers out with his dragon sleeper, so I gave him moves like DDTs that damaged opponents’ heads. Now, I can beat Lesner–even though it’s still likely that he’ll pin me after one goddamn F5.
I like how you can change movesets like this. It allows players to goof around with entrances, celebration animations, taunts, and more, given that the game allows players to string together their own animations in the create suite. It’s also nice to reward players who think more strategically about the in-ring gameplay. It almost feels cheap–but then again, wrestlers alter their movesets all the time in real life. So why not give Ultimo Dragon a sick looking DDT?
An interesting aspect of Here Comes the Pain is its point in the arc of WWE video games. Smackdown became the premiere series thanks to the popularity of the PlayStation consoles, and they were always very arcady, with characters moving fast and moves looking flashy and huge. Shut Your Mouth, the game that came before HCTP, was the last of these strictly arcade experiences, with Here Comes the Pain being the bridge over to a more simulation style that Smackdown vs Raw would adopt. It’s still very arcadey, but it also got the sim. It’s a nice combination that works well once you accept that you will loose sometimes.
These days, with the 2k games, we get nothing but strictly simulation styled professional wrestling. Here Comes the Pain is an amazing break from those games, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who plays wrestling games and has never given it a try. The roster is great, the match types are exhaustive, and the season mode is one of the best.
Just get ready to fight God Lesner and die every single fucking time.
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