With former WWE games publisher THQ down for a 3-count, it’s time for 2K to step into the virtual squared circle and take on the juggernaut of WWE-related video games with their first crack, WWE 2K14.
Having no experience with wrestling games, 2K took over management of WWE ‘13 last year, and began their cycle with this year’s title. While some things remain unchanged, a lot of features have been overhauled in this year’s title; including an intricate look at WrestleMania.
From the retro look of past WrestleMania pay-per-views to the current day product, every little detail – even down to the crowds – can be seen; the result is very authentic. With over 30 arenas, both past and present, they present a feel that you can only see by either watching Raw or SmackDown.
The WrestleMania arenas, from the first to the last give a nostalgic feel, like you’re back in the past eras of wrestling and can see and feel the excitement, even in the outdoor arenas. The current era arenas like Raw, SmackDown, and NXT also look realistic, and the pay-per-view arenas from Extreme Rules to WrestleMania 29 were also given their specific locations, which adds to the realism.
The depth of customization for the wrestlers themselves is also a new change. It allows gamers to go into the superstar threads menu and not only edit attires, but also edit any accompanying entrance attires which is a plus.
The wrestler models themselves are also a plus as it feels like 2K paid attention to the product and sculpted every little detail, even down to Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan’s scruffy beards, as well as the “Yes” chant. Some wrestlers were also given alternate attires that were unlocks in the game, like John Cena’s WrestleMania 23 attire and Big Show’s WrestleMania 2000 attire.
2K’s newest feature and what this year’s title revolves around is the 30 Years of WrestleMania game mode. Here, players can take a trip through some of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history from Hogan slamming Andre, to the 60-minute Iron Man match at WrestleMania 12 to John Cena giving both Big Show and Edge the Attitude Adjustment at the same time. Video packages and photos will sometimes accompany certain matches that had an influence on WrestleMania’s history and give wrestling buffs a trip through time to experience the legacy WWE created, and even lets young wrestling fans know that WWE exists today because of these famous WrestleMania moments and matches.
The matches themselves in the mode have been carefully selected, but this is where they kind of went wrong with some matches being excluded while others were included that should’ve not made the cut. 2K could’ve done a little bit better job selecting the matches in tandem with WWE support, like maybe having John Cena vs. Triple H from WrestleMania 22 included or the HBK vs. McMahons No Holds Barred match, and possibly even the first encounter between HBK and The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25.
Another new mode 2K and Yuke’s implemented is Defend/Defeat The Streak. Obviously, this is centered around The Undertaker. Players can choose to either defend the streak with “The Deadman” in a slobber knocker elimination-style match against the entire roster, or take any superstar of his/her choosing and attempt to defeat The Streak.
Universe Mode has also received an overhauled upgrade with many changes. The major difference at the outset is the new rivalry manager. Players now have the ability to create feuds and be a virtual booker to create storylines that can last four, eight, or 12 weeks. Also, players can manage wrestlers’ attires and decide the outfits competitors will wear to the ring. While King of the Ring returns as a tournament mode for both Universe Mode and exhibition play, the gold rush tournament makes its debut in the game, allowing players to set up a tournament for any championship in the game; even custom championships.
The final gameplay element that returns from the last two iterations is the community creations feature, which allows users to upload and download custom wrestlers, arenas, storylines, and more. This was a fan favorite feature last year and continues to allow innovation for gamers.
While 2K made a lasting first impression upon the virtual WWE Universe with 30 Years of WrestleMania and Defend/Defeat The Streak, it could’ve done a little more in its main game mode to help 2K be on the way to surpass THQ’s lasting legacy.