Wrestling, it is a pantomime, a wonderfully over the top opera. As much as you can claim to be too old for it, you cannot help but become engrossed when it is on. The Attitude Era in particular was just amazing and the games that supported it were the best quality also. Since then, not so much. However WWE 2K15 hopes to change that.
It is fair to say that the WWE games over the past few years have been running on automatic, with roster updates and the occasional new features, but by and large they have never managed to hit the heights of those N64 games. So with the 360 and PS3 era now all but over, can WWE 2K15 take advantage of the extra power of PS4 and XBOX One?
Well in short…No.
Sure on the whole WWE 2K15 has had a nice lick of paint and wrestlers such as Triple H, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, etc look stunning, but look a bit further down the roster and it is clear that many of the superstars haven’t had the super treatment afforded to others. Which is a shame, because when you get two major stars in the ring, it is hard to argue against the stunning visuals.
There are some issues with presentations also, as Yukes have attempted to go for a TV style presentation, which overall works nicely, but then has some very odd design choices. Such as proper cut away replays, rather than the picture in picture stuff they use for the real deal. It comes across as though this is being presented by someone other than WWE themselves which takes away from the overall feel.
The problems don’t just end with presentation though. The jump into next gen and being overseen by 2K would hopefully have seen a huge improvement on the basic gameplay mechanics. However, again these seem stuck in the past and are nothing more than ok. They work in terms of allowing two guys to beat seven shades out of each other, but lack that something that makes wrestling…well, wrestling.
You only have to look back at WCW vs NWO Revenge, No Mercy, etc on the N64, the games developed by AKI for how to bring the world of wrestling to videogames. The reason they were so good to play, is that these games were in on the act and knew that we were in on the act.
Recent wrestling games and clearly shown here, have tried to go for a ‘wrestling is real’ feeling, that every punch, grapple, kick, chair shot, is designed to maim and hurt. Animations because of this just don’t flow all that great and in general feels very, very loose.
Without wanting to sound too harsh for a moment though. When played in local multiplayer it is still a fun game to play and it is possible to have a few hours of fun at any given time, just playing the various match types with you favourite wrestlers. It is only when you play against the AI that the game really begins to suffer. It is time to rip up the blue print and start again.
The various modes are interesting, but also show up a major issue between generations. There are modes on the PS3 editions that don’t exist on the PS4 and vice versa. This is annoying and a very bad practice that is designed it seems to get wrestling fans to pick up both versions this year. Yet the modes that are missing from each version aren’t really enough to warrant double dipping. It just annoys you more than anything.
One mode that stands out in 2K15 is My Career. Based around the same ideas as seen in 2K’s NBA series, you create a wrestler and taken him through an entire career to be the number one superstar in the WWE. It can use some improvements, but there is a lot of potential here. Yet at the same time it does highlight the issues with the gameplay mechanics.
My Career is presented in such a way that it will chart the rise of your character from tryout hopeful to being the next Stone Cold, Rock, etc. The progression and the presentation here buys into the idea that wrestling is a show, it gives you various events that must be completed to move on. It gives you an impression of just how hard you must work to make it to the top. Going from an initial tryout, through NXT before getting your big break and so on.
But again, mixed with the current mechanics, it just doesn’t mix as well as you’d hope as it goes from this behind the scenes look at what wrestling is all about, to the typical basic fight stuff. Sure there are objectives to meet in matches, but these are centered around doing damage, rather than maybe looking to hit certain moves at certain times.
Imagine a wrestling game, that was all about the technical side of things, making sure you hit certain milestones in matches as instructed by a ref on the go, or predetermined before you enter, designed around actually putting the best show on possible, just like the real thing. Having game mechanics built around that would give the genre the injection of creativity it needs.
As it is though, this is just another wrestling game and unless you absolutely MUST own the next gen version, then there is little reason to upgrade. WWE 2K15 isn’t a ‘bad’ game, but it is now certainly a very stale one.