Review: WWE 2K14 (PS3)

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Title: WWE 2K14
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (13.4 GB)
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Yukes
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T

Gameplay:
WWE 2K14 is the first WWE game under 2K management, but it feels very much like a THQ wrestling game because it is the same developers (Yukes) from the previous games. So while many were hoping for a new look WWE game, that may have to wait till next year since 2K was only able to take control of the franchise earlier this year while the current game was in already deep in development. It all works out in the end though as Yukes were able to put another good product on the shelves this year.

The big feature in this year’s game is the “30 Years of WrestleMania” mode which has you go through the biggest moments in WrestleMania history starting from the first WrestleMania all the way to last year’s event. This mode is the reason to get this game as it strikes the nostalgia nerve with great effect. Most matches are introduced with nicely executed promo videos that detail the story behind the upcoming match. The WWE is known for putting together great promotional videos to build hype for matches/events and the videos in the game reach that standard you come to expect from them. It is a little disappointing that not all the matches come with a video as it makes those matches seem less important, but at least there are slides for every match that explain their importance.

Most of the big matches from WrestleMania are included in the game like Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramone, and The Rock vs. John Cena. Some matches you’ll play through won’t feel like they were significant enough to accompany classics like the ones mentioned before and sadly you will have to play through them because there is no skipping matches in this mode which is a shame as you end up playing duds like Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg. Despite the occasional dud match, the mode is fantastic and filled with great historical matches that will make any wrestling fan happy.

WWE2K14-Hulk_vs_Giant

When you play these matches there is a primary objective which is always to win the match, but there are secondary objectives as well that involve executing certain moves and or hitting the “WrestleMania Moment” which breaks down to a QTE that is executed when you get your opponent into a specific situation that aligns with a moment that happened in the real match you are reenacting. This is pretty neat, but you will run into situations where you don’t know what the WrestleMania moment is and could find yourself in matches longer than you need to be hoping to trigger the moment. The AI will help you from time to time by going to areas where the moment is unlocked. This is nice of the AI, but is sometimes clunky when it doesn’t make sense when the AI goes out of its way to get you to a specific spot.

I had multiple times where the AI would just leave the ring to go to a specific spot or just stand around hoping I engage them in action in a specific way which breaks the flow of matches. The bonus for doing all the objectives in a match is it unlocks the wrestlers, arena, and alternate costumes for use in the game outside of this mode so you can make your dream matches of CM Punk vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin or Daniel Bryan vs. Macho Man. It’s a shame that you need to complete all the match objectives to unlock all the items and I’d prefer if the wrestlers would have unlocked with just the primary objective of winning the match as a requirement, but if you really want to unlock a specific wrestler it isn’t too much of a hassle to do the secondary objectives.

In addition to the WrestleMania story mode there is a surprisingly fun mode called “The Streak” in which you take on an over-powered Undertaker and try your best to end his WrestleMania undefeated streak. This mode is very challenging and forces you to play the game differently because The Undertaker is overpowered and always just a couple moves from his finisher. I found great enjoyment out of this mode finding proper match-ups to try to defeat the AI and while I didn’t find much success in taking him down I will definitely be going back to the ring to try and end his streak.

As for the wrestling mechanics, if you are familiar with the previous games done by Yukes for the WWE, not much has changed. You strike with Square, and grapple with Cross and move the analog stick around to execute specific moves. There is an aiming mechanic when you press R1 that lets you choose a specific area to damage which works out nicely if you want to focus on a specific limb to later do a submission move on. So overall the gameplay feels as solid as ever and the game plays really well.

WWE2K14-UnderTaker_vs_HHH

The only flaw I had with the wrestling gameplay was the reversal system that was frustrating at some points because of how the mechanic is displayed. How reversals work is a small R2 or L2 icon will appear above your wrestlers head and you need to time the button press correctly. This can be frustrating as the icon flashes really quick and can be blocked from view by the referee or opponent because it is a such small indicator and easily missed. This takes some time to get used to, but once you figure out the timing, it isn’t much of a bother except for the few times your view is blocked.

Visuals:
Yukes have worked really hard to nail a fun playing wrestling game, but when it comes to the visuals they may have hit a wall with the current gen consoles. It’s not that WWE 2K14 is ugly, but that it’s kinda rough looking at times. The character models aren’t the best and look a couple years old at this point, again they aren’t bad, but they could probably look better especially when you get a close look at them.

During matches the models look okay and nothing looks offensively bad, but when the game focuses on a character model the engine shows its age. Crowds also suffer from lack of detail and variety like most sports games running on current gen consoles, but I also saw a lot of pop-ins with the crowd which when it happened would be kind of distracting.

Audio:
The sounds are very important to a WWE match and WWE 2K14 is a mixed bag in this department. The in-ring action sounds great as the audio does an excellent job at making moves sound full of impact and the crowd stays loud throughout the match. The crowd could use some more chants as they seem to just have a couple of go to chants. I know with this game being Teen rated we can’t get a “Holy shit” chant, but there are some pretty great chants that happen every week at WWE events that should be included in the game.

Now I need to talk about commentary, I think it is bad. It feels like it was phoned in by the announcers and just doesn’t feel natural at all like other sports games are capable of. The announcers just spit out lines and repeat themselves often and from time to time talk about something that didn’t happen or possibly make references to storyline stuff I have no context for. I had a better time with the game when I wasn’t listening to Jerry Lawler and had a podcast going on in the background.

WWE2K14-Edge_vs_Foley

Online/Multiplayer:
WWE 2K14 has multiplayer matches and it works just fine though that is not what I want to focus on for this part of the review. The true star of a WWE game connected to the internet is the player created content. Players are given the tools to make custom wrestlers, logos, arenas, and story-lines. There is amazing content here as the community does a really good job at filling the gaps in the official roster by making wrestlers that aren’t currently signed with the WWE or are too new to the scene to have made the game’s roster.

The tools provided are deep enough that these player-made wrestlers come damn near close to the real thing. The community also does a good job at making wrestlers based on anything from anime characters, comic book characters, and celebrities. You can make some pretty interesting matches after diving into what has been created.

The story-lines players create are wonderful as well since a lot of them have the right combination of care and stupidity to them to be entertaining. You could spend a lot of time in this area of the game as many creators have ongoing stories for you to download and and even remix. If you pick up WWE 2K14 this is one area that must be explored and appreciated.

Conclusion:
Yukes have put together another solid game with good mechanics and only a few little hitches that are bothersome, but in the end are not game breaking. The only negatives this game has are in the presentation issues mentioned in the visual and sound parts of the review. It’s a shame when that stuff takes you out of the flow of a match and one can hope with the next generation consoles out, that the next WWE game will be able to improve in those areas. The foundation on which the game is built is solid and the “30 Years of WrestleMania” and user created content make this a must have for wrestling fans old and new.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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