WWE 2K15 - Games Weekly

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

WWE 2K15

WWE 2K15 is almost as big a letdown as a Wrestlemania card that’s topped by The Miz. We knew that 2K could only do so much last year when it jumped in on WWE 2K 14 halfway through development after THQ went bust. With a full year at the helm, though, the hope was that some of the WWE games’ lingering issues would be addressed and that 2K could inject some of the magic from the NBA 2K franchise into a series that sorely needs revitalising. Unfortunately, that’snot really happened.

That’s most notably the case in Career mode. For those of you who don’t know, the NBA 2K series’ much lauded equivalent intersperses its gameplay with cutscenes that let you make choices that affect your relationships and the course of your career. Sounds ideal for a WWE game, right? After all, wrestling is all about stories, so the idea of creating rivalries based on interactions backstage and being given the option to establish your own character as a face or a heel based on how you react to various situations sounds brilliant. Let us give you an example of a cutscene that’s indicative of what you actually get. Early on, presumably pleased with having made it to the WWE, you get a scene in which your character stands backstage and… looks about abit. That’s it. It’s completely meaningless and adds nothing to the experience of playing the game. When you do eventually get engaged in rivalries, they feel incredibly hollow and scripted. There’s no sense that you can have a significant impact on what’s transpiring or that you have any agency in creating your own story.

Things aren’t all bad in Career mode, though. The fact that you have to upgrade your character’s stats and abilities using points gained from partaking in matches adds some sense of progression. What’s interesting about the system is that you gain more points from putting on good matches, which incentivises you to take part in something of a meta-game where pleasing the crowd is just as important as winning. Fortunately, it is far easier to have a good match here than in recent WWE games. Bouts are better paced, partly due to the introduction of a chain wrestling system that replaces standard grapple moves in the early stages of a match, ensuring you can’t come straight out the blocks performing big moves. In addition, the introduction of a stamina bar leads to things slowing down in the latter stages, just as tends to be the case in real WWE matches. We’ve had a few great contests as a result, complete with last millisecond kickouts, momentum swings and reversed finishers.

Unfortunately, though, 2K15 is still hampered by issues that veterans will be familiar with. That sense that you’re controlling a clumsy buffoon rather than a finely tuned athlete? Still there. That thing where you end up swinging punches at thin air when confronted with more then one opponent? Still there. Poor animations and transitions between them? Better, but not what you’d describe as ‘good’. The changes made to combat, then, while welcome, are hampered by the fact that they’re bolted on to a core that’s fundamentally flawed, as it has been for many years. Consequently, those great matches we talked about are the exception rather than the rule.

Moving away from the Career mode, 2K Showcase is the equivalent to last years ‘Road To Wrestlemania’ mode, presenting you with two rivalries to play through John Cena vs CM Punk and Shawn Michaels vs Triple H. Matches are interspersed with real-life footage that tells the story of the two rivalries. Sadly, those fan-pleasing video packages are probably the best thing about the mode. Aside from winning each match, you’re given objectives to complete on the way, but the problem is that they’re not fun to fulfil. Worse still, we encountered a couple of instances when we performed the action being asked of us, only to have it fail to register.

The changes made to this year’s entry in the WWE 2K series are for the better. However, those changes either don’t go far enough as in the case of the Career mode or feel like piecemeal adjustments to systems that are fundamentally flawed.

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