Wrestling games have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until the days of the Nintendo 64 and Playstation that they actually started getting good. Games like WWF War Zone and WCW vs. nWo: World Tour paved the way for future wrestling games, and Smackdown 2 arguably perfected the formula.
It doesn’t take long for Smackdown 2 to start showing off, beginning with an incredibly hype intro that perfectly captures the Attitude Era.
The entrances are nothing too spectacular, but in an era where entrances were still a new thing, they were great. Using the Playstation’s video capabilities, the wrestler’s titantrons videos play behind them as they walk out. Also, for Playstation, the character models are fantastic… I don’t even think the N64 games looked this good.
If you’ve played wrestling games before, the gameplay here isn’t too much different. However, it’s incredibly polished and fluid, easy to pick up and play, and fun as hell to boot. Recent wrestling games tend to be overcomplicated and try way too hard to be realistic… as a result, they feel technical, boring, and not nearly as fun as the older games. If they were to just recreate this sort of gameplay but with modern graphics, it would be fantastic.
Of course, there’s a character creation mode as well, and it’s great. Tons of options for customizing your own superstar… you can even make managers, taunts, events… for a Playstation game, it’s incredibly in-depth.
Also, the Smackdown games were notable for allowing you to do the People’s Elbow. At the time, developers were unsure on how to make it work, so most games just didn’t feature it. However, for Smackdown apparently they figured out a little thing called auto-correcting, so at last players were able to pull off the Rock’s epic finishing move.
In closing, Smackdown 2: Know Your Role is easily one of the best wrestling games ever made. It was developed by Yuke’s, who also make most of the modern WWE games… so it’s baffling why they fail to live up to the same quality. If you’ve got a Playstation and you’re a wrestling fan, I highly suggest you track down this gem. Hell, any game that lets you play as Paul Bearer is amazing in my book.