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Welcome to The Game Zone! Here, The Staff will look at Varying Wrestling Video Games, past and present, providing  reviews, tips & create-a-wrestlers;(if appliccable)

During my 27 years on this planet, I've had the good fortune to have played virtually EVERY gaming system known to man, and every game to go with them, as, from Jungle Hunt to Halo, I've probably played them all. With that said, my favorite video game Titles were always the "Wrestling" related ones, and I pined for a time when my increasingly pink Andre The Giant in NES's "Wrestlemania", would actually resemble the Eighth Wonder of The World, and not a glowing plutonium laced blob that endlessly choked Ted DiBiase as a synthesized version of "Girls in Cars" played in the background. Well, it took seventeen years, and now I can say that I've seen Wrestling as it's supposed to be simulated, with THQ's mega-successful "Smackdown" series.

I have to admit that I don't really have the time I once did for gaming these days, but with that said, I was absolutely ADDICTED to Smackdown!: Shut your Mouth during the Fall of 2002, and when yet another sequel was released 6 months ago (Here Comes The Pain) I was SO there.

While I haven't donated a hell of a lot of time to it, I did play enough to wrestle the full Season mode and complete the game, although, I haven't dedicated nearly half the time I once did to the CAW's (Create-A-Wrestlers) as I did in the franchises previous incarnations. So I have little to offer in that regard at the moment.

SD: HCTP  With that said, let's take a look at 

SmackDown! Here Comes The Pain!

Gameplay Modification:

The modifications of the grappling system from the ready position is the most noticeable change to this Smackdown incarnation. As opposed to the "hit-a-directional-and-circle" style of the previous titles, HCTP introduces a new, more categorized scheme which allows even more moves than before. The system is broken down into four areas: submission, signature, power, and quick grapples. Each is selected by a directional and circle just like before, but here is the where the change in game play takes place. Each directional executes a certain readying grapple, and from there allows a character to execute any of four moves from that category. This is a huge improvement it eliminates the need for an opponent to be in a certain "state" to pull off certain moves, and it provides an even wider selection to choose from., in addition to providing a somewhat more "realistic" approach to how a match comes off.

The mechanics of submission holds have been slightly altered as well. A noticeable change is the addition of a "body figure" which signifies damage to a specific part of the body. As you take damage, each area of this figure begins to change in color. The more damage that is inflicted, the more red the area gets. The injured part can have a direct effect on the performance of the wrestler, and actually adds a degree of actual "psychology", that allows you to systematically pick your opponent apart, unlike your retarded little brother who continues to punch and kick while annoyingly mashing the keys.

Another cool aspect of the damage meter is that the more you work a particular body part, the more your foe "sells" that injury even going so far as to limp or get "dizzy", all depending on what area you've decided to work over.

Once you've worked over a particular body part like a true "mat technician", you can zero in for the kill, applying a finish or a submission. Speaking of submissions, where this game improves from the previous THQ incarnations is that now you actually have to physically force your opposition to cry "uncle", unlike in the past when the computer would just ring the bell, forfeiting your own "tap out". By tapping the keys you can apply more pressure and by doing the same, your opponent can attempt to resist or get to the ropes to force a break. This really is a unique addition and often, the fate of your wrestler depends on how frantic you can get the Ol' game thumb going.

They say the best offense is a good defense, and with that said, your defense is now controlled not by the square (as I unfortunately found out) but now by pushing L2 and R2 respectively.

Countering your opponents strikes and/or grapples can make or break your match so learn to know them.

With Square being replaced with the aforementioned buttons, it's new function is to pick up weapons, tag your opponent and also climbing.

Some of these changes take some time to get used to, but for the most part, you can still utilize the same strategy as you did in SYM, as thankfully, your computer opponent is still very one-dimensional so outsmarting him won't be that difficult..

Selling Features:

I recently learned that one selling feature of HCTP is that the in-game storylines were actually written by *REAL* WWE TV Writers!!!! (No wonder HHH kicked out of three consecutive Jackhammers in the game...it all makes sense now). This may sound great to people expecting fresh storylines, but much like it's real life counterparts, it's mostly rehashed angles. From exploding buses, to milk trucks, to love affairs, this game is one violated dead body away from being an actual WWE broadcast! Although I was a little bit disturbed by my Goldberg character violently downing two cartons of milk after unloading said dairy product via a huge hose on Rock and Vince in the ring. The only thing that could top that, was the disturbing spectacle of Goldberg passionately making out with Trish Stratus under the Titan Tron. With that said there are still some cool, moments.

Another selling point is the enhanced game options and matches. As already mentioned, more realistic submissions is big plus (as your wrestler now is forced to quit by a fluctuating pain meter as opposed to the traditional "computer decides when you've had enough" feature). Also added is the elimination chamber and bra & panties match, although, if you feel compelled to see a polygonal version of Torrie in a state of undress on a constant basis, you should stop greasing the old catchers mitt right there, go outside, and find , I don't know...maybe a real life flesh and blood girl?....

The Elimination Chamber is a great bonus as well, as it stays true to the actual match, with the possible exception that no matter how much you try, crushing HHH's trachea is an impossibility. The match operates under the same rule structure of it's real life counterpart, with timed intervals, eliminations and the use of the entire structure itself to do damage. (you can ram your opponent into the empty pods shattering them or climb to the top of said pod for some real high impact damage.)

The other cool feature of this game is the blood option. I was unaware of how one busted his opponent open at first (As often I'm too lazy to read the meandering instruction manuals) but soon I discovered by accident when all of a sudden after a roundhouse kick by RVD, Rhyno's head appeared to explode, (making my Autistic younger sister burst into tears). Since then, I've gone out of my way to bust open as many heads as possible with a variety of weapons, which for the record FINALLY do the same damage as they would in real life. Nothing was more frustrating than using a steel chair to do limited damage, while the "Worm" would always seem to finish you every time.

Graphics & Characters:

The Sarge!There is a decent amount of the collective WWE roster represented here, but for those of you really wanting to take Johnny Stamboli to the WWE Championship, I regret to inform you that The F.B.I. among other certain lower-midcard performers, got left on the cutting room floor, so for now you'll have to be satisfied with using your ridiculously blocky Billy Gunn CAW to try and achieve fame & fortune.

The game also features a variety of WWF "Legends", however WWE seems to be playing a little fast and loose with the term "Legend" here, as last time I checked, Hillbilly Jim never really set the world on fire. The company was however a little kind to the physical appearances of the legends, instead opting to portray them as they looked in their respective primes, which is fortunate for Roddy Piper who is a lot more cut than the "Dad who waters his Driveway on Sunday" look he sported last time we saw him, and Hawk, who quite honestly would be unable to carry his share of the tag team load with advanced stages of rigormortis and all.

I was disappointed that certain legends were not put in the game (No Andre for example). Part of me wishes they had just neglected to put the filler characters in, and instead bulked up on the classic characters. I really would have dug a Honky Tonk Man addition personally.

The rest of the standard roster is depicted well with a few minor exceptions, with Edge being one. Edge for the 5th time in the engines existence still appears to be suffering from mild Down Syndrome and THQ has once again been unable to realistically capture the magic that is Chris Jericho.


REY Vs. Y2J;The moves seem to be more fluent in this game, as transitions and counters flow with much more realism than before in past incarnations. There still is some overlapping problems on occasion, as Kurt Angle can sometimes be expected to visually burrow his head and upper torso through the chest of Brock Lesnar while in a bear hug.

ROH enthusiasts will be happy to discover that crazy indy moves like the Ki-Krusher'99 and Kryptonite Krunch (Yay, me!) are represented, as is the Angels Wings and Styles Clash for that matter.

There is the noticeable absence of ring commentary for this one which is a positive and negative. Positive since you no longer have to hear JR & King call a move you delivered twenty sequences before, and a negative, as the matches seem more game-like without Michael Cole giving his ridiculous nonsensical observations.

The CAW function is also up to standards but I'll refrain from comment until I've actually made some more. (The procedure of churning out good Create A Wrestlers is a huge time-inducing endeavor. However, if you would like to send in your CAW formula, I will gladly post them.

Sean's Tips:

Rock Busted OpenIf you're serious about going all the way with your "created superstar", I strongly suggest you pick moves that coincide with wearing down your opponent for your unique finisher. While I'm sure there are some meatballs out there who have stocked their jumbled mess of a player with every high-spot known to man, and while this looks "pretty", I GUARANTEE you that a logical technician would annihilate your flip-floppy "fun-boy" every time out of the gate. Remember, although real wrestling is staged, it's presentation utilizes actual logic in wearing down an opponent, and if you choose to use a finish like the jackhammer or F5, I suggest you utilize suplexes and hard slams to wear down the body. The same logic goes for submissions as well, if you use a submission, build your superstar with holds that damage that particular body part. You won't be sorry you did.

As for the finisher itself, the ropes in this game play a huge part, and even if you have a great high impact finish, often your opponent will somehow land near the ropes forcing the break. From a purely strategic point of view, I suggest you utilize either the Lionsault or the People's Elbow, as no matter where you are in the ring, the computer will re-adjust your opponent to the center of the ring, EVERY TIME. But for my money, I'd go with the Lionsault, which has the added bonus of having you land in a pinning position, making it impossible for your fallen foe to counter.

While most of the opposition is predictable, there are certain characters that seem extra difficult (cough*HHH*cough). One trick I utilize is bailing out the ring. Your stupid opponent, being void of any common sense, will follow in your direction, and when he gets close enough to the ropes, press the directional key and the "circle" button to whiplash your opponents neck off the top rope from the outside. He will stumble backwards completely stunned every time, and you can then slip in quickly and finish him if your SD meter is full. Never underestimate computer stupidity.

"The Ultimate Warrior offense" almost always works, this is also useful when playing against real people. The Ultimate Warrior offense is of course well timed clotheslines. You see, most people you play will want to use the "showy" sports entertainment moves, and thus will try to entice you into a grapple. What you need is the element of surprise to catch them off guard. What you do is back up, and as they ignorantly approach, begin a quick short-run and clothesline the shit out of them. EVERYONE falls for this, as most people expect the bulk of the match to take place in the grapple.

While you have your opponent down (depending on their skill level) I suggest once again NOT grappling as some people with an itchy trigger finger can counter your grapple and leave you open for attack. My suggestion is to instead stomp the shit out of them on the ground with kicks, elbows or stomping. It doesn't take as much energy off, but the goofball is HELPLESS every time.

Just because it's a game doesn't mean you can't be a coward. Only the truly stupid plunge ahead and dive headfirst into battle. Use your head and pick your spots. When you are in a Title match, they negate count outs, so let the floor be your friend. Sucker your opponent to the outside and whip his ass there. YOU can't be beaten on the floor, so any offense he gets in means nothing there. Wear him down, then lead him back to the ring, sucker him and you win, no problem.

Another move I always add to my wrestler repertoire is the "turn around" feature. This is your single biggest ally in the game. Tap "circle" twice to pick up your opponent backwards then as he has his back to you stunned, spin him around with "turn opponent around" and "Smackdown" his ass. Also running towards your foe and sliding between his legs, floating behind, will allow you to also quickly use "turn around" and proceed with your finish or high impact move.

When you compete in a Tag team match, always call your partner into the ring when as you make a cover on your beaten opponent. He'll attack the guy's partner and allow you to pin your fallen opponent without the annoyance of him breaking up your pin.

When in the Royal Rumble, make sure you have a stock of overhead belly to belly suplexes or release Germans. These will allow you to quickly dispatch your opposition without getting drawn into a grapple.

When you're in a Tag team cage match, often it is smart to allow one of your opponents to exit the cage. This gives you and your partner the chance to smoke him two on one, then when he's spent, you both simultaneously exit the cage on opposite sides. Works every time.

One of the hilarious changes in this game is that the Referee is no longer a push over. knocking him out is often a lot more difficult than handling your opponent.

The bottom line with this game is, if you utilize similar strategy that is used in the real matches, you will often come out on top. Remember, it's all about winning, and how you win is irrelevant, so long as you WIN.


*If you want to give your review, game tips or CAW's , send them here and I'll post them accordingly.*

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November 2006


by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).