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Wrestling games have been made to a point of exhaustion, or so it would seem. But Smackdown 5 is the refreshing touch that the genre needed and puts wrestling games right back on the map. The game is incredibly vast with an array of option to keep you busy for quite some time.
The most noticeable new feature is the season mode which has been dissected and remade into something beautiful. You pick a character, custom or existing, and choose a programme (Raw or Smackdown) and then it begins. You can talk backstage with other wrestlers to built up alliances and feuds, talk to the manager about title shots and suchlike and be approached by WWE staff about taking part in PPVs and other events. In the ring your every move alters the detailed storyline. If you beat an opponent you can respect them and beat them with a chair, and this will affect future storylines. You can interfere with fights of allies and be turned on by those you thought were your friends, it sounds like an episode of Eastenders, doesn’t it?
The create mode is brilliant, you can make your wrestler in more detail than ever before, you can pick from a number of presets or create your own character from scratch. You can change the dimensions of your character as well as tiny details right down to their eye colour! The costumes come in a wide range and can be customised to suit your character perfectly. As well as the massive selection, more clothes can be unlocked in season mode. When you have your character made you can assign them a move set or make your own using existing moves. With the all-new animator you can create custom taunts, walks and even moves for your character. This hasn’t been done before and I not only original but brilliant.
Whilst other games have fixed pre-sets, Smackdown 5 allows you to change alliances in the game with the Stable editor. You can team your custom character with a badboy like Kane, or pair unlikely opponents in a tag team. In the season mode you can also go about creating your own faction and recruit new members! I teamed Austin, Goldberg and Christian together and it was cool until they started hitting each other with chairs.
As far as match types go, you are utterly spoilt for choice. You can have generic matches, hardcore matches, ladder matches, TLC matches, and that’s just for starters. In the main pay-per-view events you get elimination chamber matches, hell in a cell, last man standing, first blood, lumberjack and battle royale, amongst many others I don’t have room to mention. You can have up to 6 men in the right at once, plus a referee. This makes the game good for large matches and especially royal rumbles.
There is a great range of characters, all of who are brilliantly animated. You get all the modern heroes including RVD, Austin and Booker T and can unlock some legends including Sgt Slaughter and Jimmy Snukka.
For only a smidgen over £25 you have have an array of sweaty hefty men throwing each other about in your living room. This is without a doubt the best wrestling title on the Playstation 2!
Oiled up men in spandex have never been so much fun!