WWE 2K15 Review – I Got Two Words For Ya… This Sucks
I’ve been somewhat disconnected from the WWE Universe of late so when I was given the opportunity to review WWE 2K15, I couldn’t wait to dive in and re-familiarize myself with the WWE world. Although last-generation versions suffered a surprising lack of features and additions, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release promised to deliver a WWE experience with all the trimmings – but does WWE 2K15 mark a return to form for the franchise or another loss at the main event?
Even before its release WWE 2K15 was fighting an uphill battle. A surprising difference in features between last-gens version and this gen left many WWE fans with a sour taste but even without that poor start, the WWE franchise has not been at its best for many years. I didn’t have the highest of expectations when I dove into my first WWE 2K15 match but I quickly perked up after watching the entrances of the legendary Triple H and powerhouse Roman Reigns. Although the game still struggles to correctly mimic the human mouth, the rest of the graphical elements are the best the franchise has ever seen. The effort involved in creating lifelike copies of their true WWE counterparts is clear and although it goes a long way to setting the mood, the building blocks soon begin to tumble.
For a game that centers around fighting, the combat system doesn’t feel as fluid and responsive as you would expect. Most of the basic elements remain unchanged but the general feel of the combat system is sluggish and often left me feeling out of control during lengthy animations and attacks. The reversal system has also been somewhat simplified when compared to past iterations, limiting the opportunity to string reversals between wrestlers, punishing the wrestler initiating the first attack. I haven’t played a WWE game for any serious length of time since the days of Smackdown VS. Raw and despite the passing of many years, I still recognize the same flaws in certain combat and movement animations – not what I would expect paying full price for a next-generation release.
The online mode promises endless longevity with a variety of match types and a seemingly seamless background matchmaking feature that matches opponents based on a series of customizable variables – such as match type, number of players, and ranked or casual. It’s a fine idea on paper and I’m sure it will prove a valuable feature after a few patches but it is practically unplayable at the best of times. The PlayStation 4 version has been available for 10 days but it was only recently that the online function started to be somewhat reliable. I still experienced waiting times of up to 10 minutes with the background matchmaking. I’m unable to connect via private matches at all and on odd occasion that I am able to access an online match, I’m expected to endure lag of such severity I have a 5-6 second input delay on my controls.
Although WWE 2K15 falls shockingly short on some of the basics, it does deliver in other aspects of the game. The Create A Wrestler doesn’t quite boast the variety and depth of customization seen in previous WWE games but it’s clear that 2K are constructing the building blocks for bigger and better things, it’s just a shame they didn’t take a little longer to give WWE 2K15’s custom scene more substance. The Create A Finisher, Arena and other popular customization features have made way for a new Logo Designer, by far the greatest addition to the franchise in WWE 2K15, giving players the opportunity to make and add custom logos, tattoos, icons, and even their own face to their custom wrestlers.
The new My Career Mode helps to combat the loss in customization options with a deeper, more immersive take on custom wrestlers than was previously possible. Making my first appearance training with other NXT wannabes I was introduced to the new mode by a husky voiced trainer hoping to push me to new heights. What starts with an interesting cut-scene, inspiring dialogue and edge of the seat match-ups soon dwindles to little more than repetitive grind for experience points and cash, each improving your wrestlers stats, moveset and abilities. The My Career Mode could have been so much more but instead it becomes a series of dull match types followed by a small dialogue box and then the odd battle for a belt. Repeat this for several hours and you reach the rather disappointing climax of retiring after winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Yup, you retire after winning the belt.
Removing such popular customization features and falling short with the My Career Mode, it became clear that 2K had put all their eggs in the WWE Universe & 2K Showcase modes. I’ve always found the opportunity to forge my own path in WWE games to be more appealing than reliving memories of yesteryear but for those craving a well presented, nostalgia fueled interactive experience, the 2K Showcase Mode is a must-play. The mode combines real footage with in-game objectives that sees players enjoy some of the biggest moments in wrestling history while having the pleasure of taking a front row seat. Despite the disappointments in other areas the 2K Showcase mode manages to rekindle the same thrill, emotion and shock that I experienced many years ago.
WWE 2K15 had the opportunity to build and improve on the failures of its predecessor but instead forged its own legacy of disappointment and frustration. A great looking package that lacks substance and conviction.