After THQ’s bankruptcy earlier this year, many were left wondering the fate of the next iteration of the WWE video game franchise. But in came 2K, known for making some excellent sports games and the future looked bright for the grappling simulator. But does it improve on what was, personally, the disappointment of WWE 13? Let’s dive in and take a look at WWE 2K14, Brother!
Developer: Yukes/Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also Available On: Playstation 3
Release Date: Out Now
Long term fans of the WWE gaming series will more than likely be impressed with the subtle, but majorly impactful changes in 2K14. I will start of by saying that the A.I. is no longer infuriatingly stupid. It sounds like I’m being picky, but I noticed they actually go for many pin attempts, hit finishers, taunt, all the things a human player might do. It is also much more aggressive, not standing around waiting for you to get up, or leaving the ring for no apparent reason. It’s still far from perfect, but we finally have a WWE game with higher difficulties that are actually challenging.
As for the gameplay mechanics, it plays almost identical to last year. You still have weak/strong grapples, strike attacks, running moves and all the other different positions you can put your opponent in to bring the smackdown on them. The game feels faster and more arcade like than previous years, but that definitely improves the pacing of each match. Selling is also much better this year, with wrestlers staying down for much longer when hit with impactful moves, as well as a new “knocked out” state, so people hit with moves that would normally K.O them, don’t have that awful head grabbing motion before lying down (People who’ve played other games will know exactly what I mean). It’s only small details that didn’t take away from my experience with last year’s title, but now that the improvements are here, it just makes me appreciate 2K14 that little bit more.
Unfortunately, there are still bugs and glitches within the game. Not as many as last year, but clipping issues, especially with bigger wrestlers, are frequent and a little annoying. Weapon physics are something else that still need work. For example, jumping onto someone lying on a table will quite often break the table, but leave them floating in mid-air. I never encountered any game breaking glitches during my time with the game, but Yukes’ QA team definitely need to be more vigilant.
Universe mode is back, and is almost identical to previous versions of the mode. The basic premise is that it’s a season mode of sorts, with only unvoiced cut scenes before, during or after matches to tell a story. It’s not quite as compelling as the storylines you see every week on the televised product, but it gives the game good replay value. You have a calendar, with the default Raw, Superstars and Smackdown every week and a PPV at the end of each month. The game automatically has a set roster, champions and titles assigned to each major show (Raw & Smackdown). From here you can customise it to however you see fit by adding or taking away shows, switching who appears on which shows, how many matches each show has and so much more. My universe is set up similar to that of actual WWE programming, With Raw, Main Event, Superstars & Smackdown each week. It’s very easy to set up and all the interface and menus are nice and simple, making it a lot easier to navigate.
New to universe mode this year is the addition of a rivals manager, where you can create rivalries that last for up to 3 months. These will then have one or both of the sides of the rivalry appearing on their respective show each week, with cut scenes or matches building tension towards the eventual pay per view battle at the end of the month. Again, it’s another small feature that really adds a lot to the game as no longer do you have to wait for the game to choose rivalries for you and hope that you like them.
The new game mode for this year’s title is very similar to last years “Attitude Era” mode. “30 Years of Wrestlemania” mode lets you relive some classic moments from every Wrestlemania. From The classic HBK vs. Razor Ramon ladder match to CM Punk attempting to break the Undertaker’s legendary streak, a lot of great matches are included here. Included in some matches are impressive video packages from real life interviews and promos, giving the match some build up and back story, which is a nice touch.
Hidden in the menu of the 30YoW mode are the Undertaker specific game modes, Defend/Defeat the streak. Defend the streak is simply a gauntlet match, in which you play as the Undertaker and face enemy after enemy who’re trying to put away the dead man. Opposite to this has you select any wrestler from the roster, and attempt to defeat the streak. This mode is very fun to play, as the AI really goes into overdrive- countering finishers, reversing moves constantly and even reversing your pin attempts into finishers of their own. It’s definitely an uphill battle and the sense of accomplishment when you finally put him down for the 3 count makes it all worthwhile.
The creation suite is back and it’s easily the best it’s ever been. A player can create almost anything wrestling related, including new wrestlers, custom arenas, championship belts and even wrestling moves. It’s an incredibly in depth set of tools and with the use of community creations on Xbox live, if you’re like me and have absolutely no creative talent at all, you can download other peoples work to use within your game. Being able to have a game that has nothing but your own created content in is great, meaning even if you’re not a fan of watching wrestling you can still have some fun with what is essentially a fully customisable fighting game.
Graphically this year, 2K14 doesn’t look too different from last year’s game. Some models are improved upon, looking as shiny as ever and some much improved texture work on both character models and arenas. Most wrestlers who have some sort of entrance attire have them included this year as well, adding to the small details I mentioned earlier in the review. It’s a nice looking game for sure, the crowd still looks poor, but like most sports games they never do look as polished as the main models.
The sounds of the game are more like the real thing than ever before. Moves have some hard hitting, painful sounding bumps; giving that powerbomb you just delivered that extra bit of impact. Wrestler themes for the most part, are all included in the game and faithful to the music used by each wrestler. (I STILL have Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme stuck in my head) Sick of Zack Ryder’s theme song and would rather listen to Bret Hart’s iconic guitar riff music? Easily done thanks to the new jukebox. Finally included in the options is a menu that allows the player to pick and choose which music they want to hear being played within the games menus and creation suite.
On the other side of the audio however, is the commentary. It’s still laughably bad and it’s a wonder why it hasn’t been completely reworked. You only need to look at a game like UFC Undisputed 3 to know that a game like this can have good commentary. King and Cole often repeat lines, ignore each other’s questions and even say the wrong wrestlers names (Big E Langston being the most common, who isn’t even in the base game). It really does need a lot of work and hopefully now that 2K has full control over the series, it’ll see a much needed overhaul.[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]Impressive roster of new & old wrestlers
Fluid and fun gameplay
Creation tools impress
[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]Poor commentary
Still a few too many bugs
A shame some current superstars didn’t make the roster