|Publisher(s)||THQ (WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth), Yuke’s (Exciting Pro Wrestling 4)|
|Release date(s)||November 15, 2002|
|Genre(s)||Professional wrestling, Fighting|
Joel: I think… it was quite a long time ago now.. that this was one of the games I bought at the same time as my PS2. I should really say “our” PS2 as Rachael and I went halves on it at a second hand store in Portsmouth – IIRC it cost a hundred and twenty English pounds, which was a fair amount for a couple of teenagers on minimum-ish wage. But that said, it still runs today, unlike the two PS3’s I’ve killed in 4 years. I digress…
Because of making the generation-jump from a PS1 to 2, whatever I played first was likely to impress me and this surely left a lasting impression. The character creation tool had a previously unheard of level of detail, the levels were huge, in some modes you can end up in the street outside the arena even! A great variety of match configurations were available, from the standard 1v1 to cage matches, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble and all the other big Pay-per-view events you can think of! The outstanding graphics and a great commentary track from Jerry “The King” Lawler and the other chap whose name escapes me, Jim Ross I think, really gave you the feeling you were watching a real match. I played a lot of this back in the day, despite not being a massive fan of the WWE franchise and got pretty good at it, as did Liam. Evidently, I’m not as good as I used to be though – when I broke this out for testing, I was delighted to find that I still had my old save with all my custom characters and records etc. Because it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in a video game, I went straight to the Royal Rumble, picked my favourite custom character and the match began. I was subsequently eliminated after less than 4 minutes. Not quite what I had in mind, as I had won the thing countless times in the past. Must’ve been a fluke, I tell myself as I reset the match for another go. I haven’t played this for years and have forgotten most of the controls. So the second match kicks off and I’m off to a flying start. After a few minutes I’ve eliminated a number of competitors and things are looking rosy. Felling quite pleased with myself, I merrily bound about the ring, spearing this guy, kicking that guy over the ropes, when all of a sudden a punch from Brock Lesnar sends me backflipping over the ropes and out of the game. Again. Something’s wrong here… I poke about and eventually end up in the options menu and that’s when I see it – I’d had the difficulty set to maximum. Well that explains it. I’m clearly not as good at this as I used to be. So I set it down to medium and sure enough, victory was mine. At least, that’s how I choose to remember what happened.
So this should be a match for the ages. We’re planning on doing a Rumble and then filling out the rest of the time with other modes. We haven’t chosen our characters yet, but I’m hoping to bag Shawn Michaels or Hulk Hogan, both were favourites of mine as a kid. I’ve no idea who Liam’s going to choose, but it doesn’t matter really – I’ll ruin him whoever he picks 😉
Liam: Hurrah the racing games have finished for the time being and I get to take out my anger and boredom with some violence! For those that may not be aware WWE (formerly named WWF until they lost a fight with a panda) is a multi-million dollar sports entertainment franchise. Which is a funny way of saying that lots of people, all over the world, pay them a great deal of money to watch fat guys in lycra playfighting.
Although it is well known that wrestling is entirely scripted (I like to think of it as a sweaty soap opera) as acting wise WWE ranks just above pantomime, with a plot so exaggerated it becomes farcical at times, but this does not diminish the physicality of the show with serious injuries all part and parcel as the athletes perform acrobatic and high impact moves. In the process they have spawned numerous household names over the years such as Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, The Undertaker and Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart.
Yuke’s have been running the premier wrestling franchise in computer gaming for many years now and even though this game was relatively early on in the series, it still has a very high level of polish. It has a large roster of playable fighters and a wide array of match types including standard fights and tag teams fights, the major pay per view crowd pleasers such as the royal rumble and king of the ring, the more ludicrous offerings of Sloberknocker (endless waves of enemies), TLC (tables, ladders and chairs) and my personal favourite the steel cage match. It’s a highly enjoyable game for any wrestling fan – which at the time I was. Hey don’t judge me.
I’m kinda looking forward to playing this. I feel it will be a regression to my college days where I spent a good many hours taking my create-a-fighter to the WWE heavyweight championship. I was undefeated as well until the undertaker beat me up behind the scenes and stole my belt – which unbelievably counted as a loss. I used to be much better than Joel at this game; it’s been a long while though and I am expecting a good, clean fight.