Review /

WWE 2K15 Review

Is WWE 2K15 the most electrifying game in sports entertainment, or is the series hitting rock bottom?

Extremely dated references aside, WWE2K15 is the second WWE game published by 2K sports, but the first where they were involved throughout the entire development process. Revamping the engine for current-gen consoles and making massive changes to the game’s content in almost every mode shows that they intend to remold this franchise into something more in line with their vision of what a WWE game should be.

The revamped engine and current-gen horsepower combine to provide the most true-to-life presentation of the WWE to date. The Superstar models are vastly improved, the animations are smoother than ever, the different arenas each have their own unique look, and the enhanced lighting and particle effects make the whole thing appear as if you’re watching the real deal.

The graphics aren’t the only area of improvement this year. The core gameplay has been enhanced as well. The smoother animations and improved physics of the new engine are the largest parts of this, but one small addition that ends up being the biggest game changer is the stamina bar. The stamina bar subtly yet directly controls the pace of the match. You can start out a match at full-throttle, but if you don’t pace yourself, you’ll quickly become exhausted; resulting in all your movements being much slower and almost desperate. Whether you’re playing for speed or think your way through methodical matches, the stamina bar will make your experience more enjoyable as you get the feeling that these virtual Superstars are controlling, reacting, and tiring just like real humans.

There’s also a new chain grapple mechanic that seems like a nice addition at first, but after the first few hours becomes a tedious distraction that plays out as a quick game of rock, paper, scissors followed by rotating your joysticks a few times, and culminating with you or your opponent delivering a gentle love tap. At least it seems like a love tap in comparison to the far more satisfying crack of smashing your opponent’s face in with a chair.

There are various game modes available in WWE 2K15. Play is your standard set of exhibition matches in various flavors. Select your match type, select your Superstars, select your arena, and wrestle to your heart’s content.

Online mode is another set of exhibition matches, but you get to play them online against other real people and jockey for position on the leaderboards. One nice addition here is background matchmaking. With this enabled, the game will constantly search for an opponent that meets your preset criteria any time that you are in the Online menu, the main menu, or even an exhibition match in the Play mode. Unfortunately, once you connect with an opponent the polished core gameplay becomes a guessing game based on luck instead of a wrestling match based on skill and timing. With the amount of luck required to time actions correctly, reversals are difficult, but kicking out of a pin attempt can be an exercise in frustration that results in a short match by early pinfall.

WWE Universe Mode is mostly the same as before with a more streamlined menu to better help you decide which matches to play. Story Collection greatly enhances WWE Universe mode by turning previously random seeming story bits into a tracked list of accomplishments as it reveals clues to unlocking new storylines as you progress.

2K Showcase mode allows you to play through the rivalry between CM Punk and John Cena over the WWE championship or the friendship turned rivalry of Triple H and Shawn Michaels from about a decade ago. Both stories are interesting and accompanied by lots of archive footage and narration to really heighten the drama. Every match has certain objectives to make them more historically accurate, but sometimes these aren’t specific enough and you’ll have to check the pause menu for more detail.

The most ambitious addition this year is the MyCareer mode. You create your custom Superstar, start out as an NXT recruit and work your way through the ranks and upgrade your attributes until you finally become the WWE Champion. You primarily want to make your matches in this mode interesting, as putting on a good show wins you social media followers and your number of social media followers is what mostly determines how quickly you progress.

There are a few interesting storylines that pop up but they are few and far between, short lived, and conducted primarily through the in-game version of twitter. In fact, most of the interaction in this mode is conveyed through twitter. You’re praised through twitter, challenged through twitter, antagonized through twitter, and even your matches will be scheduled through twitter.

For the most part you’ll be given the choice between two to three unimportant mid-card matches. You’ll drudge through these matches against the same handful of Superstars over and over again just to raise your stats and followers.Eventually your stats will be high enough that most of these matches won’t offer anything in the way of challenge or enjoyment.

This gauntlet of boring matches will lull you into a superiority induced stupor, but when the game finally does give you an important match, watch out. The AI in these matches is immediately jacked up to 11 with reversals and one-sided beatdowns aplenty. If you lose one of the big matches, be prepared to slog through those boring matches again for quite a while before being given another shot to prove yourself.

A lot of veterans of this series love the creative modes. That might not be the case this year. Aside from the addition of allowing you to upload images edited on your computer to use as textures, the creative suite has been severely stripped down. Creation of divas, arenas, and championships have all been completely removed only remaining options limited to creating Superstars, Entrances and Move-sets. While your choices for customizing Superstars and Entrances are better looking than ever before, they are both drastically lacking in options in comparison to previous years. And for those of you that like to build up entirely new rosters to use in your own WWE Universe, you’re limited to only 25 character slots as opposed to last year’s 100.

Overall, the gameplay of WWE 2K15 is the best in the series. Because of that, you can get a lot of mileage out of playing exhibition matches and the WWE universe mode alone or with friends and the 2K Showcase mode is fun despite the limited matches and outcomes. The ambitious MyCareer mode, however, quickly becomes a chore, and the extremely pared down customization options will leave creative types uninterested.

WWE 2K15 is a good demonstration of what might be in store for future installments, but unless you buy this game every year, it’s best to stick to last year’s game or see what kind of improvement is made in WWE 2k16.

WWE 2K15 for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One gets a 2 out of 5.

Thank you for watching this GameSkewer review of WWE 2K15 for Playstation 4 and Xbox One. There are a couple different modes in the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of this game, but the current gen console version was chosen for this review.

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