Saturday, 9 November 2013

Review: WWE 2K14 (360)

The WWE has always had some memorable video games and with WWE 2K14 the gap between Wrestling Entertainment and center piece games like the Madden Franchise and the NBA2K franchise are disappearing. That's not to say that the differences are gone, but the quality level that we are seeing for a wrestling game definitely deserves some acclaim. The opening roster alone is quite extensive – as you compete, you will unlock even more wrestlers and fill out this crazy initial roster of 72 wrestlers (not including downloadable ones).

Recreating the WWE experience is a trick in itself. Keeping a balance between the near impossible feats of strength and the frantic pace of action must be a hair-pulling exercise. Now making the audience believe this simulation? Good luck with that! WWE 2K14 does an admirable job of adding some realism to the Sports Entertainment world while keeping the game accessible to the neophyte player. After a 4 hour session of playing 1v1 with my girlfriend (who typically does not play much in the way of any games but was very jazzed to play as CM Punk) she was just as competent in execution as a veteran and was starting to give me a true run for my money.

The combat system is pretty straight-forward. Strike to do minimal/medium damage; grapple to chain together more complicated moves; wear on your opponent to expose weaknesses/injuries and increase your odds on ending the battle. As you are successful in executing moves, you can earn signature moves and finishing moves, which, of course, do more damage than traditional moves. At any time, any move can be countered by a successfully timed button press which really allows you to remain in any fight no matter how lopsided it appears.

The game modes are more robust this year, starting off with the excellent 30 years of Wrestlemania. You control wrestlers in different Wrestlemanias and try to not only win the match with the specified method, but accomplishing all of the pre-set goals to unlock all available contents for yourself. Seeing the variety of different Wrestlemania highlights as an active participant was a neat addition, especially when all of the video clips are era specific; for example Howard Finkle doing the announcing and the old 1980's graphics for the Title Matches.

The WWE Universe mode is quite different that previous versions; you can take control of any wrestler you wish and participate in every match on every TV show and pay-per-view. Be as active or in-active as you want throughout an entire year of events.

The final special mode is the Streak Mode – where you can either participate as the Undertaker taking on waves of opponents, or try to end the Undertaker's Wrestlemania undefeated streak yourself (which is a straight-up control throwing experience – one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced in a wrestling game before).

After all this praise it's time to deflate the game a bit.

There are a few negatives that range from annoying to infuriating. The selection screen: as you progress with your unlockable characters you will end up having a huge roster of wrestlers and different outfits for each one… but you can't see what they are until you've launched the game. This is freaking annoying if you are trying to find one specific gear set and can't remember which Wrestlemania they wore it at. The counter-system has some of the most nonsensical animations at times – nothing takes you out of a game faster than a simulation with a physically impossible move (flying forearm smashes suddenly being reversed into an arm drag in the other direction… yeah… I don't care how strong you are… I'm pretty sure physics would still apply in the squared circle)

All in all, I'm a huge fan of WWE 2K14 and am excited to see what we can look forward to on the next generation consoles. A few more tweaks and a shinier coat of polish and we'll be talking about how the WWE 2K franchise is as much of a must-have for all sports fans.

- Tazman

The Good:
- Getting pretty darn close the fidelity level of their masterpiece franchise NBA2K14
- Quite the varied roster

The Bad:
- Can't see which era of wrestler you are selecting until game starts

Score: 9.0 / 10