Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    The best wrestling game on the market for any platform.
  2. The vast number of improvements to gameplay and the addition of legendary characters, new modes like Elimination Chamber and Bra and Panties matches and a better season mode makes this game the king of the world.
  3. Overall, this is the most complete Smackdown game yet, with changes and improvements everywhere you care to mention and a fighting system that's such fun, knowledge of the WWE isn't even necessary to enjoy it.
  4. 94
    As far was wrestling games go, it gets no better than this. With the new additions to the roster and the modified gameplay, fans of the series will not be disappointed, so don’t believe HCTP is the just the same old song and dance, because simply put, this is where it’s at.
  5. Bar none, the best WWE wrestling game of the series and one that will leave fans more than satisfied.
  6. 91
    One of the best wrestling games we've ever played...With its ultra-improved gameplay mechanics, enhanced visual engine, smarter career mode, and established create-a-character feature, Yukes and THQ are definitely the track to success.
  7. If they fix the play balance and are able to add that last bit of audio polish (and adjust that Steph model...she was hot in the preview build), the next iteration could be perfection. [Dec 2003, p.101]
  8. An absolutely awesome wrestling experience...Thanks to features like improved graphics, more match types, and an overhauled grappling system, it's definitely the most realistic and rewarding WWE game on the market. [Dec 2003, p.56]
  9. A superb blend of traditional and wrestling-specific fight mechanics, and there's so much variety here that it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say you could play this one from now until the next SmackDown without getting bored or running out of things to do.
  10. What the game lacks in innovation, however, is more than made up for in sheer playability.
  11. A severe, albeit pleasant, shock to system. The game has grabbed me in a way that only “No Mercy” has ever topped.
  12. Easily the best Smackdown game of them all. And it right up there with best wrestling games for any of the three big game systems.
  13. 89
    Here Comes the Pain will give you hundreds of hours of gameplay in Career mode, and plenty more in Exhibition mode and with your friends.
  14. Probably the best wrestling game to come out since "No Mercy" on the N64. Yukes seems to have finally combined what was great in the AKI games on N64 and what was great in the Smackdown games.
  15. It emulates the ruthless aggression of WWE better than anything before. [Dec 2003, p.138]
  16. 85
    It's a triumph for THQ and vindication for Yukes. This is best of the series, and one of the best wrestling games to hit a console.
  17. The lighting effects and polygonal detail has been kicked up a few notches, and for those of you who don't like your grapplers dipped in corn oil, HCTP has the best looking character models on the market - more realistic in motion, musculature and personal detail than Raw 2's sweaty oafs.
  18. 83
    The best of the three THQ wrestling games released this year. [Jan 2004, p.57]
  19. 80
    Jaded grapple-fans will find much to love about Here Comes The Pain. It restores some much-needed faith in THQ’s franchise and stands out as a great game in its own right.
  20. Submission moves finally makes sense, thanks to a logical location-based damage system, and wrestlers' weights are accurately presented. [Jan 2004, p.92]
  21. New match types such as the elimination chamber, and a revised control system, mean that unlike other WWE titles appearing on other formats, this one can stand up in its own right as an accomplished game - and one that people outside of its hardcore fanbase should have some fun with.
  22. 80
    The total package is solid, and while it's not the holy grail fans have hoped for since the N64's "No Mercy," it's light-years beyond what THQ used to try and sell under the SmackDown! name.
  23. 80
    How about a Bra & Panties mode where WWE Divas rip off each other’s clothes? It’s the raunchiest Teen-rated action you’ll find anywhere.
  24. 80
    As the wrestling game with the most depth, great playability, impressive visuals, and slick presentation, SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain delivers in all the categories WWE fans hold in high regard.
  25. Thanks to its incredibly deep Season mode, Pain is easily the best wrasslin' title since the days of the Nintendo 64. [Jan 2004, p.140]
  26. 8 / 7 / 7 / 7 - 29 [Vol 798; 30 Jan 2004]
  27. The first game in the series that tries to accommodate both sides by combining quick action with the technical elements of wrestling, and it works -- almost. [Jan 2004, p.132]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 149 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 84 out of 93
  2. Negative: 6 out of 93
  1. Aug 28, 2010
    Wow,lets get right to it and I have to tell you that it's August 2010 and I have yet to find a wrestling game or fighting game as good as thisWow,lets get right to it and I have to tell you that it's August 2010 and I have yet to find a wrestling game or fighting game as good as this game.I have wwe smackdown vs. raw 2010 and that game is amazing but this game's game play is mind blowing.Especially for how old this game is.The lack of commentary is the only reason I'm knocking off a 1/2 of a point,even though the commentary in all the wrestling games is terrible and the games weakest point,but to this day I play it and love it the best of all my wresling games,I give it a 9.5 Full Review »
  2. Sep 4, 2014
    Probably the best wrestling game ever.Hell, it aged so damn well. Great roster, exciting gameplay. Really an epic and also a revolutionaryProbably the best wrestling game ever.Hell, it aged so damn well. Great roster, exciting gameplay. Really an epic and also a revolutionary game at that time. There hasn't been any wrestling game since "Here Comes The Pain" that was better and more fun than that. A difficult wrestling game to top. Full Review »
  3. Mar 29, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. still the best wwe game ever would like this to be recreated for latest consoles with moderrn graphics same here comes the pain roster with latest added members 2014 and same fast gameplay with latest updated moves for analog controls voice and commentary and entrance all updated wold be a dream game if that happens hope all agree and like it Full Review »