News On old game reskinned
Honestly, WWE 2K15 doesn’t feel like a 2014 release — it feels dated, clunky and poor. It feels as if instead of progressing forward from the PlayStation 2 era of WWE, the developer has instead decided to stop right there and hope their loyal fan base fails to notice.
That’s not to say it’s exactly the same — 2K15 features a slightly new control scheme which simplifies most open combat moves to two buttons, though this doesn’t actually streamline the combat so much as turns it into a “mash and hope” simulator, as pressing your grapple could result in quite a few different assigned moves.
This combat is not helped by the abysmal counter-attack mechanic. For players, countering revolves around hitting the right trigger at a precise point in time. The issue in this is that the marker, which indicates you should counter, comes up at inconsistent points in time, meaning we sometimes hit the button too early or we were already halfway to being floored, because that’s when we were being prompted to hit the button.
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The only effective way to counter at this point is to learn the generic moves’ counter timing off by heart and hope for the best with characters’ unique abilities. This isn’t a perfect, or even particularly good system, but until the actual prompts get patched, it’s basically the only option other than being repeatedly beat down.
For AI opponents, the counter-system comes into a “whenever the game feels you’re doing too well” field — effectively every three, before getting beaten down for the next forty. This is a pattern throughout, and you’ll notice it in the grapples and the pinning too, which may point to badly designed minigames for these systems, or inconsistently designed AI, both of which are a massive issue considering how significant a part of the game these systems are.
As far as the grappling is concerned, there are two parts to it — wrestling and dominance. The wrestling part is a glorified game of Rock-Paper-Scissors which establish who ends up on the offensive, while the dominance part determines who gets hurt by requiring you to find a sweet spot with your right analogue stick and hold it there. It’s a system which breaks the flow of the already disjointed combat, and feels incoherent to use, due to how frequently the momentum of the combat switches.
Sure, it’s got a new coat of paint and some slightly better looking character models, but that’s about all the constructive change the game has seen.
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A well-rehearsed performance?
By now, most know what they are going to get from a wrestling game and WWE 2K15 delivers exactly the testosterone-fuelled, beat-‘em-up performance that we’ve known we were going to get since 2004. But even though we already know what to expect, and we’re pretty aware of how to play it by now, 2014’s iteration of the WWE franchise is just poor.
It would be bad enough that the game still plays like a PlayStation 2 game — the movement is crude, the attacks are clunky and the game hasn’t expanded for the last 10 years, but it handles like one too.
Firstly, the time it takes to do anything in the game is ridiculous. Lengthy load times in everything from match entrances to character creation (which initiates a load sequence every time you place or remove an item from your character) are unacceptable for a game which is both so limited and supposedly running off better hardware than any WWE game before it.
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We’ve spoken about the clunky gameplay, and even that feels slow; unacceptable too, because after 14 years of wrestling games from Yuke’s, we still don’t have one that truly replicates the frenetic entertainment aspect of a wrestling match.
This, quite frankly, is shocking. The entire idea of a sports/fighting game in the vein of WWE is to try and replicate the spectacle one gets from these events. FIFA does the spectacle perfectly, with a streamlined football experience that, while not entirely realistic, provides fans of the sport with an excellent representation of the sport they love.
EA’s UFC too, may be almost overly technical in its execution, but it feels like the frantic fighting experience it’s meant to portray and provides the atmosphere its supposed. WWE 2K15 is both too clunky and lacks the true atmosphere of a real WWE match, and for a game representing a sport that’s so reliant on its spectacle and sense of theatre for popularity, it’s a sad excuse of a simulation.
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Tons of content with no appeal
Perhaps the one positive that can be taken from WWE 2K15 is the sheer content pool on offer. That’s not to say the content is good — the MyCareer mode is a shambles which pushes you through the early stages, brushing over important tutorial aspects and lacks the personality of past versions, while the WWE Universe mode is all over the place with options to customise actual events and fights that just shouldn’t be there.
But on the bright side, there’s a variety of different fight modes reminiscent of the classic WWE lineup, including the cage fights, royal rumbles and myriad other fight types the franchise has become known for. On top of this, there’s a mode which allows players to relive classic WWE fights (which is every third fight, if the commentators are to be believed) with big names who will probably sound familiar to a slightly older audience.
Lastly, there’s the customisation options, which allow to create custom wrestlers, their fighting styles and abilities, entrances and current rosters. This, somehow, is probably the most complete part of the game — and actually the part we enjoyed the most, if nothing else than for the laughs we got from creating an absolutely ridiculous-looking character. The loading times will detract from intricate customisation, but it’s still a lot of fun to mess around with.
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2K haven’t claimed the game as their own in anything but title
And so we have a second year of WWE 2K being sub-par, only this time it’s genuinely a horrid game. Everything from the slow, clunky fighting to the hacked-together crowds screams at me from the PlayStation 2 version of SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 I plugged so many hours into, and it’s really showing its age.
The ownership may have switched, and the title may have changed, but WWE 2K15 is nothing different from the THQ wrestling titles we saw for years on previous generations. It’s starting to reach the point where Yuke’s and 2K are going to have to give the series a new identity — one which better reflects that of the actual spectacle of wrestling — if it’s ever going to be successful again.
WWE 2K15 is a mess. It’s overflowing with content I’ll barely ever touch, because there’s no incentive to. The gameplay is genuinely unpleasant, the game itself isn’t too impressive visually and many of the modes on offer are just too poorly actualised to bother wasting time on. Wait for next year, and maybe we’ll have a playable WWE title. Until then, give the series a skip.