Man, it’s that time of year again…when the Soundsphere magazine office goes a little nuts. Well, mainly just me, Dom…by myself. Because I’ve always been a huge wrestling fan and gamer. You guys know this. The next instalment in the WWE franchise is always a big one in our gaming calendar.
Okay, so if I can just be serious for a minute. The game itself looks bloody incredible, doesn’t it? For the first time in a good while, character models look proper true-to-life, and the camera work makes it feel like you’re actually watching the telly and encouraging your favourite superstars to smash stuff up. Another great note is the entrances, they look amazing. Bray Wyatt’s is particularly awesome.
In terms of fighting, and the controls. The matches employ a much slower more intense pace, which works well when you’re in the heat of a big fight and saving stamina really matters. Indeed, the stamina bar marks one of the more interesting changes made this year. Once you get a few minutes into a match, you have to use your stamina wisely, or your character will simply be too tired to perform any moves!
Moving forward, one thing I didn’t particularly enjoy this time around was how the matches begin, there’s this optional chain wrestling mini-game that you play in order to gain control and when transitioning from one grapple to another. Effectively, it’s another attempt to make the game seem more realistic, and intriguing to fans who want to feel more involved, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most people just get bored and turn the option off.
It’s worth noting that, underneath the great sheen and new graphics, the engine is still very similar to the one that’s been used for the last few years – we’re talking even before 2K took over from THQ. Reversals are still annoying and clunky, and the AI is basic and random as hell.
With regards to the roster, there’s a noticeable improvement with the incorporation of more NXT stars like the excellent Sami Zayn and Corey Graves. Real, true wrestling fans are going to take great pleasure in pitting these up-and-comers in hard fought matches with the old guard like John Cena and Randy Orton (pictured), in the well-established, relatively unchanged Universe Mode. It’s also nice to see all of The Wyatt Family in there (and so they should be!), but it’s annoying that the game’s developers couldn’t make the time to update attires for the likes of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins who are now key players on the company’s main event scene. Still, Sting’s in the game this year. That’s pretty cool.
The main game mode is the 2K Showcase which allows players to work through rivalries between the likes of CM Punk and John Cena, as well as Shawn Michaels and Triple H, and that’s the same as everything that came with the last gen version of this game, but it’s also pretty boring when you consider the heights reached by 2K15 on their NBA title’s modes (lots of excellent cutscenes and voiceovers). This has all been done before, and I think wrestling and game fans deserve more, and better in the future.
Meanwhile. the most unique, and hyped-up addition to WWE 2K15 is MyCareer mode, which sees you taking the role of a young up-and-comer (that thankfully, you can create) just starting out in the business. It’s essentially a wrestling themed role-player, as you rise up the ranks from the bottom rungs of NXT all the way to WWE champion. It’s hard work, but the idea is you get that much more immersive experience. As you fight you get to buy new abilities and increase your basic attributes, as well as recruit managers and manage fans. It’s a concept that needs work for the WWE games (the choices you make [whether you want to make a heel move, or a face one, for example]) are given to you in text, which is pretty old school when you look (again) at how well this mode plays in NBA 2K15. There are a few other glaring omissions in this title that have been existent in previous years, and some customisation features have been left out. Create-a-wrestler is there, but you can’t create your own storylines or arenas this time.
It’s easy to assume that the yearly release schedule has meant that some of these important and missed features couldn’t get in on the game because of the horrible deadline – though, this game is a month behind the release of the last gen version – so we’ll just have to make do for now. There’s definitely room for improvement, but this is a promising start and a must for hardcore wrestling fans.