Review: WWE 2K14
A changing of the guard has occurred in the wrestle-world with 2K taking over from the sadly departed THQ. This is the first WWE title under the new developer so how does it shape up?
The create modes are one of my favourite aspects of this genre and I’m pleased to report that 2K have taken an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to character and move customisation. As in previous incarnations you have the option of using pre-set templates or more advanced features like face morphing. All very helpful in getting the look you want, (in my case; thrift store chic) though it’s slightly disappointing how many of the clothing options have come from the previous title.
Elsewhere, in the move lists section we have a notable improvement with some of the non-superstar pre-sets now having titles (like ‘Nature Boy’) hinting at whose move sets they are paying tribute to. The Create a Finisher mode remains as flexible as ever with corner, front grapple and top rope moves all possible.
But how does it actually play? Launching into my first match, a simple 1v1 affair, I immediately found the countering system far less forgiving than previous efforts. Split second timing is required and any mistakes are punished harshly. This can lead to matches see-sawing between you and your opponent being in control. Whilst this is faithful to the feel of real life WWE matches it can be a frustrating gameplay experience. In fairness this is alleviated by the game telling you if you’re hitting the counter button either too late or too early but it remains a sore point.
Grapple-wise the game is on surer footing with a variety of bone-crunching slam’s, suplexes and holds that capture the moves and character of the individual superstars very well. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the striking. Kicks and punches don’t seem to have any sense of impact behind them. Even worse; chairs, ladders and tables don’t have anywhere near the oomph needed either visually or sound-wise when they hit home. Throwing someone against a steel cage should be wince-inducing. Instead it just comes off as a meh-provoking rinse and repeat action.
When multiple wrestlers get thrown into the mix the game suffers from a targeting system that turns what should be an enjoyably riotous experience into a confusing irritation. That’s not to say there isn’t fun to be had in these modes with friends, just that your mayhem might be less polished than you’re used to.
Online mode is rather good, with matchmaking occurring quite quickly and matches having very few lag issues (which is important considering the timing now involved in reversals). The player/ranked matches work well and it’s fun seeing other peoples created intros. Of course, all the above issues apply to this mode as well.
Visually the game is strong. The current roster is well animated and the presentation of the menu’s feels sleek and modern. The razzmatazz and pomp of the WWE have been captured really well by 2K, with one mode really nailing it. The 30 years of Wrestlemania option is a blissful trip down memory lane with Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and many more for company. Each match has both an historical objective and a match objective to encourage repeat playthroughs. Here nostalgia trumps control issues and WWE 2K14 soars.
To sum up
We have a game that has great presentation, a stack of cool modes (some, like WWE Universe are too big to go into here but offer oceans of options for fans), solid online functionality and a decent chunk of creative options. But it also has a fundamentally flawed combat system and this is a problem. If you can push past this WWE 2K14 still entertains, albeit in fits and starts.
WWE 2K14 is out 1 November 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Version reviewed: PlayStation 3