Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 11/21/00 | Genre: Wrestling
"So what do you think about Smackdown2?"
"Well, I think it has -"
"It doesn't matter what you think!" Or at least that's what the WWF's Rock would say. Don't like his attitude? Lace up your boots, slip on your elbow pads, and climb into the ring, because THQ's Smackdown 2: Know Your Role is ready to invade your Playstation. Even if you've been down on some deserted island or in the outback with a bunch of other folks trying to win a million bucks, you probably still know that wrestling is hot right now. Especially the WWF.
THQ's second installment continues the fine tradition of an all-out âslobberknockerâ? by letting you play as more than 50 superstars, many of which are only unlocked by progressing through the season mode. On top of that there's the Create-A-Wrestler feature that allows you bring your neighbors, friends, enemies, and/or even yourself into the mix. If you played the first Smackdown, you're painfully aware of how much this option stunk (worse than Rikishi's patented Stink Face). Thankfully, it's the feature that received the biggest overhaul. Now you customize your homemade heroes to the point that one limb can be made thicker than the other. My first guy took over an hour to make!
Another fun feature is Create-A-Stable. Your favorite tag team split? No problem; you can change their affiliation in the game to reflect the current standings in the WWF. New stables can be created and populated with any of the wrestlers, including your own malcontents. This also gives way to double-team moves, which are now included in the game.
The number of match types has gone through the roof, or table as the case may be. Table matches, ladder matches, coffin matches, and the long-awaited Hell-in-a-Cell match. If you've watched the WWF, then you know what these matches entail; if not, then let your imagination run wild. It's also possible to take the fight out of the ring and backstage. The loading dock, a parking garage, dressing rooms, and even the kitchen. Each location contains extra treats for your punishment-dealing delight, such as a working forklift or an ambulance stretcher.
The game does have a few drawbacks that keep it from being perfect. For one, it's impossible to entirely skip matches that you don't want to see. In the first Smackdown, you could skip a match and immediately see the results in the form of win-loss. Now, you have to sit through a screen with a headshot of the combatants and life bars that decrease denoting that someone is taking a pounding. On the regular PS1 it can take up to 30 seconds to "skip" through a match, but the PS2 seems to shave the time down a bit. Another drawback is the storyline for Season mode. While it was a good idea, a horrible interface hurts the game's flow at times, leaving you to scratch your head and wonder what that cinema was all about. The last drawback is something that people have missed out on since WWF Attitude: ringside commentaries. The in-match music delivers a hard, driving beat which fits right in with a good right hook to the kisser, but it's just not the same.
Controlling your on-screen counterpart proves to be easier than ever. Most moves require only a tap of the d-pad and the attack button. I personally prefer Attitude's controls better but understand how Smackdown's arcade-like setup makes it easier for a new player to jump right in and start cracking skulls in no time.
Plug in your multitap, round up a few friends (a.k.a. mat fodder), and experience where the game really shines. With up to four people in the ring at once, you'll be kicking more tail than the proverbial one-legged dude. There's nothing quite as satisfying as smirking in your friend's face as you fly off the top turnbuckle into his barely conscious wrestler.
If my only choices for living out any wrestling fantasies were caught between real-life backyard wrestling and Smackdown2, I'd gladly give up the multiple trips to the hospital and pile drive the game into my Playstation. Just please don't ask me how often I have to rush my console to the emergency room.