WWF: SmackDown 2 brings all of the WWF’s Attitude Era to the PlayStation for insane wrestling action. This is of course the second in the SmackDown wrestling series of games. Its a fun game and much better than its predecessor. For starters, you’ve got 60+ wrestlers like Steve Austin, the Rock, the Undertaker, Mankind and the Hardy Boyz just to name a few. There’s a wide array of men and women to play as. Everyone from lumbering giants and technical wrestlers to speedy workers and hardcore legends. Each wrestler has their own moves and maneuvers, complete with a signature finisher If you can’t find a wrestler you like, you can always create one with the robust tools the game provides.
Now that you’ve got the roster, what do you do with them? Wrestle in matches of course. You can participate in dozens of match types. Fun things like ladder matches, casket matches, cage matches, table matches, tag team matches, handicapped matches, iron man matches, guest referee matches and so on! There are even annual Royal Rumbles where the object is to throw out the other wrestlers.
Another fantastic thing about the game that makes it feel like the WWF itself are the details. Entrance videos play when wrestlers to come down to the ring. Its all mind blowing to see it in a video game. There are several different arenas to wrestle in, anything from the SmackDown and Raw arenas to WrestleMania and Judgement Day (pay-per-view) arenas! The fans are also so detailed, they hold up signs based on who is wrestling in the current match.
The season mode is the main event for SmackDown 2. In this mode, you chose a wrestler (you can chose a different wrestler during the season) and play an entire continuous year of WWF action. Wrestling week-by-week working your way up the ladder to the seven different WWF championships. There are even story lines to follow in the season, such as injuries, run-ins and the evil plots of the WWF’s owner Vince McMahon!
To give you incentive to play through the season mode, you get to unlock arenas and wrestlers as you progress further in the year. If you want to bring along friends or change to different wrestlers during the season you can. Its a nice drop in and play system that’s fun for everyone.
The game plays like several other modern 3D wrestling games. You’ve got a run, grapple and several different attacks. Each attack and grapple depends on if you’re in front or behind an opponent and if they are standing, running or groggy. Depending on the wrestler, you can use the directional pad to do different grapples and attacks. So Holding Down + X isn’t the same as Up + X. It depends on how robust a wrestler’s move set is. Some of the wrestlers they really skimped on the move diversity, but every wrestler has at least a dozen moves. Earning special moves stack up, so you can use several finishers in a row to make sure your opponent doesn’t get up.
Now for the down sides, the biggest of which is that game feels dated by its PlayStation technology. There are considerable load times even if if its not loading a match. I suppose that’s the problem with being a disc based game. The wrestlers look like boxes with some awkward animations. Its not perfect, but its bearable.
While I personally prefer its rivals like WWF No Mercy and WWF WrestleMania 2000 on the Nintendo 64, this is still a quality game with a lot of interesting features. Its a time capsule for one of the best periods in wrestling.