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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by THQ

SD2_ss01-01.jpg (5113 bytes)I miss Hulkamania. I can’t say that I was ever that big of a fan, but I find myself waxing nostalgic for the days when the good guys were clearly good, and the bad guys were clearly bad. I miss the sense of hope that I would feel when a bad wrestler saw the error of his evil ways and joined up with the guys in white. I miss the wide-eyed innocence of a time where the Hulkster was actually a role model to millions of little kids everywhere. When Hulk Hogan defected to the dark side I lost a little bit of faith in the world. And this new generation of WWF wrestlers has done nothing to restore it. Gone are the days of the good versus bad. Now all we have are post-modern shades of gray. The moral ambiguity of the modern WWF is brought to life in the latest Smackdown game for the Sony PlayStation and fans couldn’t have hoped for a more faithful translation of our modern day gladiator games.

SD2_ss02-01.jpg (5128 bytes)WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role is quite simply one of the best games that I’ve played on the PlayStation. In fact, it’s so good that I actually found it even more disturbing than its real life counterpart. I’ve been avoiding wrestling games pretty successfully up until now as a kind of silent opposition to what the WWF has become, and this game was so faithful to its franchise that it’s going to keep me away from all other wrestling games in the future. I cannot reiterate enough how impressive a game Smackdown 2 truly is. All of the characters, moves, and drama of the WWF is meticulously recreated on your PlayStation. This game will undoubtedly suck valuable hours from the lives of any that play it

SD2_ss03-01.jpg (5367 bytes)In real live wrestling it’s pretty obvious when the wrestlers aren’t actually making contact with their opponents. It’s so theatrical that it becomes a sort of second rate pageantry, but on the PlayStation, there’s no need to fake things. The animated characters can’t hurt one another. This is the first game that I’ve played where I’ve actually flinched as my wrestler was getting the tar beat out of him.

SD2_ss04-01.jpg (4260 bytes)The graphics are some of the sweetest that I’ve ever seen on the PSone. You have a ton of wrestlers to choose from—all of the attitude and silicon of the WWF is here for your playing enjoyment. I was amazed at how well the likenesses of the wrestlers were captured. They not only look like their real life counterparts, they strut like them too. Their intros are as gaudy and over the top as they are on TV.

SD2_ss05-01.jpg (3689 bytes)There are so many different modes of play and arenas that I’ve lost count. You can fight in the parking lot, you can fight in the locker rooms. You can beat someone with your fist, or you can use a chair. If you can think of a way and a place in which to hurt someone, you can probably recreate it here. The replay value on this game is unlimited. The "create-a –wrestler" mode is also really well done. You can create everything from the stereotypical Hulk Hogan types to freaked out transvestite avengers.

SD2_ss06-01.jpg (5349 bytes)A note of caution: this game is rated T for teen, but only barely. It definitely walks the line of an M rated game, if that’s a standard you use in deciding what to purchase for your kids to play. The only reason I can see that it avoided the M rating is due to the lack of blood in the game. I actually found this game more violent than your typical Quake type games because of the level of realism that they’ve been able to achieve. Fragging people with you’re a M-16 is a lot more surreal than kicking someone repeatedly in the crotch. The characters move a little slower than they do in real life and it makes the wrestling almost hyper-realistic. You can see the Rock setting up a pile-driver so far in advance that you have enough time for your life to flash before your eyes. Although I would be a little concerned about my kids trying their hand at pile-drivers because of this game, I’m a lot more worried about them emulating the wrestler’s taunts. But, if they’re already watching the WWF, they’re probably already doing the taunts for you.

SD2_ss07-01.jpg (4338 bytes)I know that I’ve spent more time discussing the nature of the WWF than the actual game itself. There’s really not a whole lot I can say about this game. If you like the modern incarnation of the WWF then this game should be a no-brainer. If you’re not a fan of wrestling, I don’t even know why you’re reading this in the first place. This is the first wrestling game that I’ve ever played. And because it was so well done, it will probably be my last. It was so realistic that it took me back to the schoolyard bullies who would beat me up during recess, and that’s a place that I really don’t want to go back to. But, if you’re a wrestling fan, WWF Smackdown 2 has everything you could hope for—all the sex and violence and none of the those pesky scruples to get in the way.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Super realistic; lots of wrestlers; trademark nuances; custom wrestler; lots of modes; four player support.

Downs: Maybe too realistic? A little slow.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation

 

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