Also On: PS3
Publisher: 2K Games
With the recent demise of THQ, wrestling fans all over the world were wondering who would buy up the rights to their beloved WWE franchise, and most importantly, would the series still retain the goods that the series has been known for? Well fear not fans of the squared circle, the publisher may now be 2K Games/2K Sports, but Yukes still helms the development. If you are a fan of the recent WWE games and appreciate the amazing evolution they have taken, the shift in publishers shouldn’t matter at all. WWE 2K14 is one hell of a game, although one that needs a little extra life in some of the familiar modes that have remained at a standstill as far as improvements are concerned.
What WWE 2K14 brings to the table is a ton of solid options, including WWE Universe, Creation Suite, and Online Play. Most of the modes are virtually untouched with only a few customization options in WWE Universe to keep the mode fresh week after week. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, especially if you are new to the series, since you will be flabbergasted at the amount of content that WWE 2K14 offers this year. Where long time fans will find the most bang for their buck is the two new modes that capture not only the pure essence of the WWE’s history, but may even remind you just how good the old days were, but also in some circumstances how cheesy it was as well.
The first involves the Undertaker and two play types for gamers to try, which are Beat the Streak and Defend the Streak. Beat the Streak has you playing as any of the WWE Superstars, Created Player, or Legends in order to do the impossible, which is beat the Undertaker in one fall with no holds barred. The second mode is Defend the Streak when you play a survival mode trying to take on as many WWE Superstars without losing, and while it’s entertaining, it really doesn’t resemble the actual 22-0 streak the Phenom is known for. In the latter mode I would have liked to have seen the developers have you replay all 22-0 matches, but there could have been licensing issues with past wrestlers preventing such a mode, or maybe they just didn’t think about it. Both modes have a streak and leaderboard to try and top with repeat attempts, which gives life to those who find themselves overly infatuated with the Dead Man and are willing to endure the punishment of the relentless and overly challenging (if not cheap at times) A.I. This challenge is more apparent in the Beat the Steak mode more so than the Defend the Streak. Of course I can’t really knock the developers for taking such actions in the A.I. as the Undertaker has yet to lose at Wrestlemania, so it shouldn’t be a walk in the park to beat him in the game either. While this mode may not be a focal point for some fans, or even fans too young to remember ¾ of the matches, it is still entertaining nevertheless.
WWE 2K14’s biggest and best addition is a follow up to last year’s Attitude Era mode titled 30 Years of Wrestlemania. The mode is exactly that, taking 46 most memorable matches over the last 30 Years of Wrestlemania and allowing you to relive them in video game fashion. This mode is so much fun to revisit matches from the first Wrestlemania to the last, but they developers have not only done a wonderful job providing the correct overlays that matched the older style fonts of the WWE, but even most impressively captured the stadium backdrops like Pontiac Michigan’s sellout crowd of Wrestlemania III and even the Caesar’s Palace open area in Las Vegas in Wrestlemania 9. What’s more there are matches that are appropriately set up with some wonderful video vignettes that show the history of how the upcoming match came to fruition. Lastly, some of the greatest moments are done so well and accurately using the in game engine such as a promo from the Macho Man or the emotional Sweet Chin Music delivered to Nature Boy Ric Flair from Shawn Michaels in the last match for the Limousine riding, Jet Flying, Kiss Dealing, Wheeling Dealing, son of a gun….woooo!! This being said there are some missed opportunities as there are some great wrestlers who didn’t make the cut therefore didn’t have any matches added, this includes one my of favorites of all time Rowdy Roddy Piper. Even with these omissions, 30 Years of Wrestlemania takes what the Attitude Era did so well including having players unlock items by reliving Wrestlemania moments that showcased some of the greatest matches and ideas including the first ever Ladder Match.
Visually the series hasn’t been what you would call a “looker” for quite a while now, but honestly I’ll take slick game play over visuals any year. Sometimes WWE 2K14 looks brilliant, but there are times when the game and even player models look downright wrong. Where the game looks very nice is in the animations of the moves, specials, and finishers. Audio is also hit and miss with all the famous intro music being represented and great crowd reaction. It must be mentioned as much as I love JR and The King, the commentary just is tedious, repetitious, and sometimes annoying.
Of course I’m sure the question on everyone’s lips is, how does it play? Well for better or worse if you played last year’s effort, the game hasn’t changed a whole ton with the exception of maybe speed and timing of reversals. The game’s A.I. is still spotty but provides a good challenge without feeling overly cheap especially on higher levels. The overall mechanics resemble the old school N64 game closer than they ever have in the past, which is a compliment as they are still touted as the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. There are some collision detection issues when it comes not only to weapon and backdrop interactions, but player on player collisions can get frustrating especially when it comes to more than two wrestlers in participation. Granted none of these issues are so glaring that it makes the game broken, far from it actually, as the game still is fun and incredibly addicting, while replicating the charm and atmosphere of sports entertainment as solid as any game before it.
Honestly, there is very little to complain about with WWE 2K14 as it provides a massive roster, even more massive modes of play, and game play that while not as perfect as Curt Hennig, is as good as fans have seen in quite some time. What makes me salivate with wonder is where 2K will take this series in the next generation, especially after seeing the visual leap that the NBA 2K series has managed. I’m ready to see the blood, sweat, and tears of the WWE looking true to life on a PS4 or Xbox One in the not too distant future. The future looks as bright as the one set for Daniel Bryan, which is a bright one indeed, as WWE 2K14 is a must buy for any hardcore wrestling fanatic.