I’m back, baby! Wooo! The dirtiest player in the game, literally. But enough about me. Let’s talk about WWE 2K15, which makes its annual return to a console near you, the new generation of consoles included. Fancy a testosterone-fueled bout in the ring? Check out our brand new review.
As some of you guys will know I’ve been an avid wrastlin’ fan for quite a number of years. My WWE game repertoir in particular consists of titles in the series going back as far as WWF SmackDown! which was released on the original PlayStation (and I still maintain this is the best wrestling game to date). Between then and now, Yuke’s has made tremendous strides in the realm of wrestling games, but with great success, comes great failures. We’ve seen WWE titles in the recent years that have been truly groan-worthy, whereas in other years, the love child of Vince McMahon (yes I’m actually still talking about the WWE games) has proven to be some of the most enjoyable games in the entertainment medium. Last year saw one of the biggest rosters in the game’s history, and so many different modes that you simply didn’t know what to do with it.
Enter down the ramp, none other than WWE 2K15, and Yuke’s newest entry into the WWE series with some great new innovations since 2K14, namely the introduction of an updated momentum meter which actually makes quite a bit more sense to use during your mano-a-mano (or diva-a-diva) bouts. There’s also been a few new Superstars added to the mix, and despite the Superstars that have been stalwarts in the game series for the last few years just getting updated textures, these new Superstars has been given a lot of love and attention. Certainly something that is admirable. Speaking of new Superstars, some of the new additions are The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan), Rob Van Dam, Curtis Axel, Xavier Woods, Los Matadors, The Usos (Jimmy & Jey), The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dogg Jesse James), Goldust and Rusev. Of course, if you pre-ordered the game, you also get the Hulkster, and the Icon, Sting as a pre-order bonus, but unfortunately this reviewer did not get the opportunity to test drive these Superstars. There is a total of 63 Superstars, 8 Divas and 3 Managers in the game, the smallest roster by far in recent years.
From a gameplay perspective, there literally seems to have been little to no progress made on several of the lingering issues from the previous entries. The collision system has seen leaps and strides over the years and I simply have to acknowledge Yuke’s for developing such an outstanding engine, but there are just so many bugs that were prominent in previous entries that have not been fixed yet. Prominently I noticed on several occasions how performing top-rope manoeuvres ends up with my character simply dropping next to the Superstar lying on the mat, hurting themselves in the process, and it happens more-often than not. Another issue I ran into while playing was the exceptionally sensitive (or at times insensitive) reversal system. If your timing is not 100% accurate you are either too early or too late in reversing your opponents move. When playing online, this flawed system is even more highlighted especially when lag comes into play. There has to be a more organic way for Yuke’s to implement a reversal system. The current system simply does not work the way it’s meant to.
WWE 2K15’s story modes this year are two fold. Renamed to 2K Showcase Mode and Who Got NXT Mode’s respectively. The 2K Showcase mode is your typical storymode in a WWE game in that it follows a set of historical matches with OMG or Showcase moments during matches to progress things. The focus on this year’s installment are 2 historical feuds in the form of John Cena Vs. CM Punk which led up to the beginning of the “Reality Era” of WWE and the more classical HBK vs. Triple feud, which showed off some the best matches in WWE between two of the best Superstars in WWE history. Both storylines consists of 19 matches, ranging from Singles competitions to Elimination Chamber bouts and even Tag Team match-ups. I personally found some of the objectives quite hard to accomplish due to the fact that a lot of them are just thrown out without any sort of explanation as to how to perform them. In other cases, frustration caused by having to redo most matches due to a failure of pushing the correct buttons at the correct time, or even for stupid little things such as missing an opportunity to perform the right thing at the exact time it needs to happen. I’m not putting the blame entirely on Yuke’s for this, but they could certainly have made things easier by including on-screen tips on how to perform certain things at the correct times. The Who Got NXT mode introduces you to several NXT rookies in single matches with similar match conditions as can be found in the 2K Showcase mode. It simply acts as filler, since there were so many omissions from the rest of the game, and gives you something extra to do and will probably not take you that long to complete, provided you are patient with all the objectives during matches.
WWE Universe mode unfortunately suffered a cut in several areas, such as the build-your-own story mode popularised in previous releases. There have been a few other expansions though, such as the ability to assign pre-created stories to rivalries as well as a few small things here and there. Create-a-wrestler has also suffered a few omissions in the form of a oddly missing Create-a-special-move mode, which was a fan favourite, especially with this reviewer. Aside from these glaring omissions, you can still create very well-balanced and great custom wrestlers.
Another issue I had with the game, which kinda ties in with the reversal system is the fact that overall match progression tends to get a bit stagnant, especially if you are used to the gameplay system. Whether you play the game on the easier difficulties or the harder ones, there seems to be a linear and static flow, which proves to be utterly stale. There doesn’t seem to be any real difficulty curve, and all that really makes the game hard is the inaccurate reversal system. Aside from that, I think WWE games would really benefit from a more integrated training system for newer players. I think WWE 12 had one of the best training system in any WWE game that I’ve played to date, but even that was lacking since, a more hands-on approach would be better. Imagine for a second being trained during your initial bouts, and learning about moves, instead of just being thrown in with little to no training. I mean who actually goes to look for tutorials actively when starting a new sports game?
Graphically the WWE games of recent years has always improved with every year’s new release, and 2K15 is no different, but as mentioned above, love was given more to certain areas, and neglected in others. Case in point, I noticed how picking up certain objects would glitch out the engine to such a degree that it looks like the objects and the player character are one and the same thing. Character models, as mentioned before has in some cases been improved markedly, but as can be seen in WWE 2K15, sometimes creating good-looking and realistic eyes, are incredibly hard. Ryback’s eyes creeped me the hell out. There I said it. They tried to recreate the intensity that he shows when he flips out and increases his menacingly angry fits, but his video game counterpart looks like something out of a 1980’s horror movie when his eyes pop out like that. Gives me cold shivers I tell ya.
The audio department sees several new licensed songs introduced to the new title, which I quite enjoyed and as with previous games in the series just adds to the overall quality of the game. Sound effects are as consistent as ever, and this reviewer found little to no fault with the way the environment was brought to life. There was one instance in which, during a storyline match, half-way through the audience noise just completely clipped out, and only came back during an action sequence, after which it disappeared again until the end of the match. This may have just been a bug, which hopefully Yuke’s sorts out in their next patch. Commentary has not been one of the strongest sides for the WWE games of late, and aside from a few newly recorded comments for both the main game and the Who Got NXT modes, there hasn’t been much change, but you can certainly hear that Lawler and Cole went out of their way to make the new commentary memorable.
Online has been one of the most lacking systems in any sports games I’ve ever played. This may be related to our internet locally or it may be poor design, but it has been a prevalent issue in any and all WWE games I have played to date, and as such I cannot make a comment one way or the other. Just be aware that attempting to play WWE’s online portion on Xbox 360, might prove to be difficult due to severe lag, and other players elsewhere in the world can most probably see this as I am constantly kicked out of the lobbies I try to join. The times I did manage to play, I did notice that it has the potential to be great fun, provided you are patient and allow for the shoddy reversal system.
Yuke’sseems to be painting an altogether different picture for fans of the series. With a significantly reduced roster, shorter playable stories, and several stripped out features, WWE 2K15 seems to be, like so many of it’s predecessors, a weak entry into the series. There are some redeeming qualities, but they are simply too few and far inbetween. The game is simply just more of the same old same old. So if you’re a fan of the continuation, and you’d like to test drive the new 2K Showcase and NXT modes, give it a bash. However, if you’re looking for a good wrestling title, best look elsewhere.
Lasting Appeal: 5/10
Freelance reporter for ITF Gaming. Quirky and concise. Strange and precise. Awkward hugger extraordinaire.