Sorry, we’re late. As per, this game takes over this writer’s life before a review gets published. Man, who doesn’t love re-creating their favourite ever wrestling matches from history? Who reading this didn’t try for years with wrestling figures and also, with the previous WWE Wrestling games to get that right balance between nostalgia and overall epic fight quality?
From The Rock versus CM Punk to The Undertaker versus Hogan, there have been some crackers that have been accessible to wrestling fans over the years. It’s great reliving these old memories (a lot of younger fans may have been given an education over the last few years too, with the acclaimed Attitude Era (from WWE ’13, and now with 2K14 and the Road To Wrestlemania option spotlighting older legends).
Within the ever-impressive WWE Universe, fans are able to create new memories too utilising the best up and coming talent and should they choose, match them up against the best in history. Also, players can edit tag-teams (we’ve already separated the excellent Seth Rollins from The Shield and had him embark on his own impressive WWE title run…), create belts and run through epic rivalries (the one we’re enjoying doing ourselves at the moment is a Triple H versus Antonio Cesaro series of beastly matches). Can we also just say, how cool does a Daniel Bryan versus Macho Man match sound? Or a CM Punk versus Jake The Snake (Jake’s coming in DLC in the next few months, by the way)? That’s the beauty of WWE 2K14 guys, the option to live these dream matches, and it’s pretty bloomin’ brilliant.
This game (helmed by 2K Sports, taking over from the bust THQ) will steal a lot of your time, and the key warning here is, you need to be a great wrestling fan (in our opinion) to find real enjoyment in this (feel free to disagree in the comment section below). The reason is (in the main 30 Years Of Wrestlemania mode) you need a lot of patience – you can’t just win, clever historically-accurate cut scenes are embedded in each match and have a profound effect on the outcomes (you can be destroying an opponent and then find yourself on the receiving end of a loss and a failed objective), just because the game wants to stick to historical points that are triggered by these scenes. Again, this is no problem if you have hours and hours to spend on play, but if you want to win quickly and simply, that’s not going to work. So, get ready to really fall in love with the golden days of WWE wrestling. And try to breathe. Completing all of the objectives means you can unlock all of the content – arenas, characters and costumes – so it’s worth it, but like I said, you really need some time, so maybe allow the whole year, yeah?
A lot of the same glitches, repetitive commentary and difficult Artificial Intelligence issues still plague the series (as they have done for years), but the graphics are (slightly) improved and the crowd interaction for wrestler taunts is awesome (the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants from a supportive Daniel Bryan crowd are particularly enjoyable). Also like we said, in that 30 Years… Mode, there are some cool cut scenes (notably a computerised Macho Man promo in the Hulkamania Runs Wild Mode, and an argument between HBK and HHH mid a Taker Wrestlemania streak challenge by The Game (as part of the later Universe Era Mode). It should be re-established at this point, that by no means, am I suggesting that the 30 Years Mode is a total waste of time – it’s great to be able to play along to the highs and lows of great historical matches, including Hulk versus Andre, Savage versus Steamboat or Rock versus Cena (and it’s annoying to miss out on unlockables if you don’t follow the script accurately). On the whole it’s a very rewarding feature and better (if only because of the history there) than the previous year’s Attitude Era Mode.
Slightly less rewarding is the Undertaker’s Streak Mode where you can fight The Undertaker to well, be the man that takes his longstanding Wrestlemania crown – there’s also an option to defend the streak which sees you take part in a Gauntlet style match (as Taker) where one guy comes in after the other, but as we all know that style is not really too faithful to the history – it feels like more could have been done here, and that might be something for 2K15 to look at.
In the ring, the 2K brand manages to improve its roster as they have done year upon year, and here we have nearly every option possible on the modern roster (great to see the addition [and fittingly awesome move-sets] for the likes of The Shield, and The Prime Time Players), as well as some awesome classic options (the previously mentioned Savage, and DLC-ready Scott Hall [NWO Pack is out in November] being favourites of ours). The controls remain simple (except it’s now more difficult to simply run at and attack an opponent to dominate – combat is (too) quick and being able to counter moves quickly will be your ultimate survival skill. Again, this makes things more challenging for the quick-fire gamer looking for the simple win. The match options are as diverse as ever, allowing any player to re-create and re-work the events of their favourite shows in Universe Mode – which also allows for the player to customise rivalries and set time-lengths to keep things (very) interesting – and ensuring that they remain that way for the rest of the year.
While there aren’t any monumental changes to the way it plays this year, there are some nice little additions, like the introduction of catch finishers (for certain power dudes like Punk, Orton, Cena, Lesnar and The Rock) that can get opponents off-guard as they leap of the ropes – also, they look awesome – this is one of our favourite add-ons in for sure. As previously mentioned, the commentary here continues to be a big let-down – it’s very broad and doesn’t really add to the experience, and we all know how much JR and Cole can add in real life, so that’s a damn shame. On the whole though, this game will tide proper wrestling fans over. A big reason that this game is an improvement on previous games is the great creation suite (which allows a user to change existing wrestler attires, as well as the design of favourite wrestlers that might not make the game in DLC form…we’re gutted to see Bray Wyatt not included in the roster as he debuted too late, but there will surely be an appropriate CAW to download by going Online).
To continue on the above point, it’s great to see the the awesome diversity that’s there in the Creation Suite. You can edit nearly every detail of the in-game world, from rosters and venues, to camera angles and pyro for wrestler entrances. Also, the ever-ace story creator is still there, so you can write and direct your own shows, incorporating your own characters (this still requires a lot of patience though…). Indeed, the Universe Mode is what makes this game so interesting to play on a regular basis for long-time wrestling lovers. It would be interesting to see what 2K could do with more time (a yearly schedule can be restrictive in terms of just how many improvements can be made in a franchise…), but this will certainly do for now.