WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain is a professional wrestling video game developed by Yuke’s and published by THQ for the PlayStation 2 (PS2) console. The game is based on the WWE’s SmackDown brand and was released in North America on October 27, 2003.
SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain is the sequel to WWF SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth is part of the SmackDown series based on WWE’s weekly TV show. The game received critical acclaim for its gameplay and features and is considered one of the best wrestling video games of all time.
WWE SmackDown Gameplay and Features
SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain built upon the previous SmackDown games with improved graphics and visuals, enhanced gameplay mechanics, more match types and gameplay modes as well as the deepest create-a-wrestler feature at the time.
The grappling system was redesigned with a new grapple meter allowing for a more realistic flow in matches. Players could now store up to 2 finisher moves for wrestlers compared to just 1 in previous games.
The game also introduced a brand new submission system in the series. Players now had to rotate the analog stick to find the sweet spot and apply pressure to make their opponents tap out.
SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain featured several new match types such as Bra and Panties, First Blood, and Elimination Chamber. The Royal Rumble mode was vastly improved allowing up to 6 participants in the ring at once. Ladder Matches now allowed grabbing the belts as opposed to just a generic item.
Popular match types like Hell in a Cell, Table Matches, Ladder Matches, and TLC Matches made a return along with specialty matches like Hardcore Matches, Steel Cage Matches, and Handicap Matches.
Season and Story Modes
The game featured two main gameplay modes – Season and Story.
The Season mode allowed players to take a created superstar through a WWE year, competing on shows, forming alliances and rivalries, and culminating at WrestleMania. The storylines and events were randomized so players got a new experience every time.
The Story mode featured original voiced storylines for top WWE superstars like the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Eddie Guerrero. The voice acting and stories were praised for their authenticity and engaging drama.
The create-a-wrestler mode in Here Comes the Pain was the deepest at the time with over 500 appearance attributes per wrestler. Players could create authentic replicas of wrestlers not included in the game or make their outrageous characters.
The mode allowed modifying wrestler entrances with pyros and motions, Movesets could be customized from a pool of 200+ moves, and the advanced create-a-belt feature allowed designing title belts.
The Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain featured 67 playable characters from WWE’s roster across the Raw and SmackDown brands. The game included popular superstars like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H alongside rising stars like Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Eddie Guerrero.
The roster also included 18 WWE Legend characters like Bret Hart, Mick Foley, Sgt. Slaughter and Rowdy Roddy Piper which could be unlocked by completing Legend tasks in the game.
Some notable names left out from the roster were Chris Benoit, Jeff Hardy, and Rob Van Dam due to them leaving WWE earlier that year.
Here is the full roster:
- Al Snow
- Billy Kidman
- Booker T
- Bret Hart (Legend)
- Brock Lesnar
- Bubba Ray Dudley
- Charlie Haas
- Chavo Guerrero
- Chris Jericho
- Chris Nowinski
- D-Von Dudley
- Eddie Guerrero
- Hulk Hogan (Legend)
- John Cena
- Kevin Nash (Legend)
- Kurt Angle
- Lance Storm
- Mick Foley (Legend)
- Perfect (Legend)
- Randy Orton
- Randy Savage (Legend)
- Rey Mysterio
- Ric Flair
- Roddy Piper (Legend)
- Scott Steiner
- Slaughter (Legend)
- Shane McMahon
- Shawn Michaels
- Stacy Keibler
- Stephanie McMahon
- Steven Richards
- The Rock
- Torrie Wilson
- Trish Stratus
- Triple H
- Vince McMahon
- William Regal
Graphics and Visuals
Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain featured significantly improved graphics and visuals over previous WWE games. The character models were more detailed with better likenesses while animations were smoother and more lifelike.
The game ran at 60 frames per second providing faster and more responsive gameplay. The textures and arenas were highly detailed with vivid crowds and effects like fireworks and pyrotechnics.
The visuals were considered among the best of that console generation for wrestling games. The enhanced gameplay combined with steps towards realism and simulation won critical praise from gaming publications.
Here Comes the Pain had a varied soundtrack featuring the nu-metal sounds popular in the early 2000s. The game featured licensed music from bands like Powerman 5000, Breaking Benjamin, Sevendust, POD, and more.
Jim Johnston’s composed rock music for WWE wrestlers was featured in previous games. The authentic WWE wrestler entrance themes added to the presentation resembling television broadcasts.
Overall the soundtrack matched the intense wrestling action well. Fans of rock and metal music loved the tunes that complemented the gameplay.
Release and Reception
Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain was released on October 27, 2003, in North America, November 14, 2003, in Europe, and February 19, 2004, in Japan.
The game received critical acclaim at release praising the visuals, array of match types and modes, enhanced season and story modes as well as the best create-a-wrestler features at the time.
The intuitive fast-paced controls, likeness of superstars, and smooth animations were highlighted in reviews. Most critics concurred it was the best wrestling game in years and a benchmark for wrestling games to follow.
SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain won numerous Game of the Year awards and is often ranked among the best wrestling video games of all time. It sold very well and continued the success of the SmackDown series on PlayStation consoles.
The game is fondly remembered by wrestling fans and gamers for revolutionizing wrestling gameplay and capturing WWE’s most popular period at its peak.
Here are some frequently asked questions about WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain for PS2:
Is the game playable on PS3 and PS4?
Yes, SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain is backward compatible and can be played on PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles. You will need the original PS2 disc to play it.
Does the game have online multiplayer?
Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer mode in the game since it was made before online gaming was common on consoles. The multiplayer is limited only to local split-screen.
Can you play as a female wrestler?
Yes, the game includes popular female wrestlers from WWE’s roster like Trish Stratus, Victoria, Sable, and Stacy Keibler who are playable characters.
How many matches can you have in the Royal Rumble mode?
The Royal Rumble mode supports up to 6 wrestlers in the ring at once. 30 men Royal Rumble and 20 women Royal Rumble matches are possible.
Can you still buy the game?
Yes, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain can be purchased pre-owned on sites like eBay and Amazon. Due to its popularity, demand is high so prices fluctuate frequently.
WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain stands out as one of the most groundbreaking wrestling games that raised the bar for the genre. The game perfected the AKI-style wrestling gameplay formula seen in N64 classics while modernizing it for the PS2 generation.
The presentation, roster, match types, creation suites, and engaging modes came together to deliver an incredibly fun wrestling experience with depth. It struck the right balance between arcade-style action and simulating the WWE televised product.
Here Comes the Pain reminds us of WWE’s most popular period in the 2000s. It brings back fond memories for wrestling fans who grew up playing these classic SmackDown games. 17 years after its release, it still holds up as one of the best wrestling video games ever made.