Friday, January 3, 2014

WWE 2K14

Released at the end of October, the WWE's latest wrestling game, created by Yuke's & Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports, includes a varied collection of gameplay (both online and off), one of the largest rosters to date, and an increased ability to customize rosters, titles, and more in the "My WWE" section of the game. However, in terms of gameplay it's far less satisfying than the previous WWE_SmackDown! vs. Raw series.

The strength of WWE 2K14 comes from its varied roster composed both of current WWE Superstars and former wrestlers including and The Ultimate Warrior (available as a pre-order download). However, to get several of the Superstars you are going to have to kick-in some extra cash to download them at various later dates (meaning over two-months after its release several members of the game's roster still have yet to be made available).

Also of interest to longtime wrestling fans are both the 30 Years of WrestleMania Mode and The Streak Mode which allows you to play various highlight matches at the WWE's signature PPV over the years and fight as (or against) the Undertaker in an attempt to save (or defeat) his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. The matches are fun (even if you aren't likely to return to them more than once, if at all), but the collection of Wrestlemania matches is somewhat limited (especially given the full roster) and there's also the confusing issue of some characters having a wide variation of costume choices while others are limited to a single one. For instance there are two versions of Mr. Perfect available on the game: a manager (in only a suit which isn't available to use as an actual wrestler) and an nWo downloadable version. This means the character's classic costume, look, entrance, and music (the ones he would have used when appearing at various Wrestlemanias) are not available.

Although the number and variety of moves appears to be intact, the 2K version is far more dependent various factors (including health and standing position of your opponent) limiting your choices on how many types of moves you can use at different points during a match. This leads to the same moves having to be used over and over, especially early on in matches. This means the game is weighted more to brawlers than in-ring technicians as a punch always beats a grapple move. One improvement, however, is the enhanced reversal mode (even if it takes time to get used to and doesn't appear to be any easier to master no matter what difficulty setting you choose).

Also troubling is the bugginess of the WWE's new game. Downloading various updates can change, reset, or even delete saved information on your game. At times ring announcers and commentators also seem to have trouble either failing to load any audio or using the wrong phrases at different times in the game. Also an issue is not all changes once made actually work. For example, changing Daniel Bryan's "No" heel entrance to his "Yes" face entrance in the game for some reason doesn't effect his entrance in the My WWE section of the game.

A strength of the game is the online fandom which allows you to create and share your own CAWs ("Create A Wrestler") to quickly fill-out your roster. The latest version of the game has increased the empty slots to allow you to have up to 100 CAWs on your game roster. You can also create and download arenas and logos. However, there is a glitch which I have yet to solve where the custom logos do not save past your initial download (meaning they are erased from your system the next time you try and load the game) which is more than a little infuriating.

All-in-all WWE 2K14 is a mixed back. It has certainly done its job with providing a large roster of stars (even if you have to download a good percentage of them) and offers some improved customization options in the various game modes. The fact that not all these options save is an issue, as is the gameplay which while serviceable is far from an improvement over previous editions which allowed multiple moves (a variation of four for every direction of the gamepad and button button combination) where in WWE 2K14 you are far more limited.

[2K Sports, $59.99]

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