This is the year that wrestling games are expected to get a much needed freshen up with the power of a new generation of consoles, and so fans of the WWE series are optimistic and excited at what could be done in WWE 2K15. 2K Sports have already had a warm up with 2K14 and now it’s time to see if the main event lives up its billing.
For anyone unfamiliar with the WWE product, they provide the highest quality of sports entertainment to the masses. Therefore this game should be as much about fighting as it is about the storytelling.
Although Visual Concepts only had what I would call a small influence in the development last time around, we can see straight away in the gameplay of WWE 2K15 that they’ve gone down the more realistic route now they’ve got to grips with the series. Firstly, stamina has become a more prominent feature, meaning that as the matches go on you’ll have to pace yourself or risk taking more recovery time even when on the offence.
This takes some getting used to especially for those who preferred the frantic nature of years gone by, where all your moves can be done in a minute and it can be all over quicker than a Heath Slater squash match. Instead it feels more of a performance for the fans, where you want to deliver a match worthy of their (hypothetical) ticket fee. Stamina isn’t the only change, there’s also the introduction of Chain Wrestling to kick-start a contest.
Chain Wrestling covers the art of locking horns in a grappling mini-game with your opponent for a transition into a headlock, a wrist lock or waist lock. From there you have to find a sweet spot with the analog stick to gain the upper hand and drain the stamina of the opposition. It’s a real novelty the first few times it occurs, however there are occasions when it happens three times during a contest before you can pull off a proper grapple move. You can turn it off for some modes but not all; hence it ends up where you put up with it for lack of any other choice.
There are a few other minor changes that make the play feel different in the way moves impact, but with a new collision system comes issues aplenty. Wrestlers being unable to climb to the top rope after numerous attempts at running towards the corner; not getting back in the ring when pressing the correct buttons; tables that fall down instantly when you’re trying to set them up; referees standing still for the remainder of a match and an endless succession of attempted punches after pressing it once. It’s a real shame to see all this and much more happening to ruin good matches.
If these problems can be overlooked then there is mainly positivity for the modes on offer and we’ll start with 2K Showcase. It feels a bit strange re-living a feud that begun only three years ago, of course talking about the John Cena and CM Punk feud. I was sceptical of the inclusion, yet given the recent events of CM Punk retiring it turns out to be a fitting send off. Arguably the events included, from the infamous “pipe-bomb” up to him facing The Rock and one last No.1 contenders match, shows the timeline that elevated him to being a truly top drawer Superstar with all the accolades that come with it.
The second of the two showcases covers “Best Friends, Bitter Enemies” which tells the tale of Triple H and “HBK” Shawn Michaels as they shocked the world by becoming each other’s worst nightmare. This is the shorter of the two whilst also being the best due to far superior video packages building to each important match and remembering what a great story it was to watch the first time around.
Now for the completely next-gen exclusive MyCareer; something the fans have been wanting for a while. 2K have delivered with a career mode similar to that found in their NBA series that has many different attributes to upgrade and takes you from the bottom to the very top. Well, long story short it’s underwhelming to say the least. I have no issue with starting in NXT and slowly working my way up using my own created Superstar, but I do worry at how basic it all is once you look past the attributes.
Cut-scenes are limited to the point where in four years in the business I’ve seen four in total and they haven’t been of any significant quality. They are also hindered by mouths that move completely out of sync with the words spoken and when there’s a scuffle in the performance center scenes it is deadly silent except for a few words from big Bill DeMott. That’s not the only worry; the game treats you like Brock Lesnar, only letting you show off your talent at three PPVs per calendar year. I can’t speak for all fans but I’d certainly like to be on most events personally.
The silver lining to all this is growing into a full blown Superstar, having to unlock abilities and special moves, using skill points and virtual currency. You want more to spend? Put on a good show for the audience because each of your matches gets a rating out of five stars based on memorable moments, signature moves and creating drama. Winning isn’t everything, in fact dominating a match only for the opponent to win instead is actually better for your earnings.
Universe mode is a mode I’ve never had much time for, that doesn’t mean it isn’t any good because it really can be the best way to experience all that the roster has to offer. And unlike Exhibition (which is just playing a single match using one of many choices in type) there is more of a reason to play through these fight cards from Raw, SmackDown etc. which is to further the stories/rivalries it sets up or the ones you set up yourself. Although it has a lot of storyline options to use, I still reckon they need to add more to it, maybe even bringing in some of the old GM ideas, even if it does make it more complex
Last but not least for the modes is the online multiplayer, and it baffles me at why they’ve decided to change it so drastically. If you want to play a friend in a private match then, despite the lag (which can be felt offline too sadly), it gives you a decent selection of match stipulations to be entertained with.
Fancy playing versus a random? Well, first order your preferred match types, of which all are standard no frills matches ranging from 1 to 6 competitors, and then it wants you to choose your favourite Superstars and Divas. It’s just too much effort and is boring to play non-stipulated matches all the time; don’t be expecting a TLC bout or going through hell inside a cell. That’s when you can actually get an opponent…
It isn’t all doom and gloom though as the community Creations side of things allow hardworking designers to upload wrestlers and logos that might be missing. And although the roster is a decent size, there are a few current wrestlers and Legends who didn’t make the cut, so you’ll hopefully find who you are looking for there. There’s already a few badass CAWs of people like Finn Balor, Jeff Hardy and Mankind to get you started on.
In short, WWE 2K15 have begun a new era… but one that has yet to reach anywhere near its full potential. With plenty to do across the whole game it could have been up there amongst the best in the world of wrestling games, unfortunately apart from 2K Showcase there isn’t enough substance to the modes if I’m being completely honest. Factor in the disappointing bugs, lag and glitches and it puts even the most hardcore players off until another patch is released. You’d expect a game that was delayed to be much better at providing a smooth gameplay experience.
I’m afraid I’ve got some BAD NEWS… WWE 2K15 is a bit of a mess.