Overall - 50%
WWE 2K19 struggles to meet expectations. It's a mid-card talent with potential, but is too set in its ways to leave any lasting impact.
2K Sports once again returns to the squared circle with the annual release of their flagship WWE franchise, WWE 2K19. Following WWE 2K18’s questionable reception, fans are hoping to a return to form for WWE’s console franchise. Can WWE 2K19 deliver where past attempts have failed?
WWE 2K19 Review
Several of the franchises more popular features, such as MyCareer and the robust Creation Suite, make a promising return, alongside some fresher elements including Mortal Kombat inspired Towers, Showcase Mode, and a Hell In A Cell match that actually works.
I wasted little time into jumping into the meat of WWE 2K19. While there’s plenty of fun to be had fighting it out in Exhibition Mode with your buddies, I had to practice first to ensure I could decimate them with ease, right? That being said, the MyPlayer mode is my immediate go-to. You create your own wrestler, including everything from attire to fully customizable entrances and ramp gear, and then launch into a flurry of modes including the new Towers mode and MyCareer.
The Creation Suite is a collection of features that truly put the power of creation into the hands of the player. You can exercise your creative side, making entrances, images, and icons from scratch, or download creations by other players. This system is one of 2K Sports’ greatest additions to the WWE franchise, and one that does not disappoint in WWE 2K19. Sadly, however, once you’ve done customizing your characters physical appearance, it won’t take long before you hit a content wall in the form of packs. Yes, packs. Like an annoying James Ellsworth, something nobody wants but never seems to go away, random pack rewards are what drive unlocks for further character creation and advancement. Want to mimic your favorite superstars abilities in the ring? Good luck. 30 packs in and I’ve still not got myself a Spear. It is a needless feature that offers nothing positive to the experience whatsoever.
2K Sports’ iconic MyCareer mode makes an epic return to form as Buzz, your custom created wrestler with a not so custom name, embarks on a journey to hit the big time. Beginning your journey as a top star on the up and coming roster of BCW, MyCareer is filled with plot twists and story arcs worthy of even the insane craziness of the Attitude Era. An initial contract signing with NXT goes awry when Buzz is attacked by a masked fan, only to face his nemesis in the ring after spending two weeks invading the NXT shows as members of DX or NWO. And that’s all within the first couple of hours. The MyCareer story continues to excite and impress in the creative sense but elsewhere, it’s hindered by visuals that wouldn’t be out of place in 2005.
WWE 2K19 looks bad, and in some places, it looks awful. Bumping into your favorite WWE superstars is often a sequence of cringe moments matched by bizarre facial expressions, as you attempt to figure out just what the hell is going on. While the new muscle tone and definition look great, and many of the superstars tattoos are fantastically detailed, anything above the shoulders is, well, comical. While most of the superstars look great in a still frame, as soon as they enter a match, a backstage cutscene, or anything else involving facial animations, it goes to hell.
If you can forgive the poor visuals, lackluster audio, and disappointing atmosphere of the matches, there’s plenty to do outside of MyCareer. The new Towers mode features increasingly difficult opponents with progressive rewards and Road to Glory allows you to compete against other players from around the world. Although once again, packs make a negative impact here as players can equip various boosts and buffs that make balancing online competitive play nearly impossible.
The vast array of content outside the ring is supported by a decent in-ring engine that allows for some good battles in various match types. The new Payback system allows players to customize their wrestler with a variety of perks built specifically to turn the tide of a fight. While exciting to use, they quickly take a backseat as much like the reversal system, your opponent can see your entire repertoire at a single glance. I am not a fan of the changes they made to reversing moves in recent years. I struggle to understand why it is fun, realistic, or worthwhile to have systems in place where you opponent knows that it is technically impossible for you to be able to reverse a move without any reverse tokens left. Online play just resorts to stamping on someone until reversals are used up, before hitting your big moves. It’s predictable and dull.
Wrestling fans have a lot of content to sink their teeth into. The path to reach superstar status is long and challenging, the online modes are technically sound, and the Creation Suite is still years ahead of this industry. While minor tweaks to in-ring combat are delivered well, it still all feels very much the same.
WWE 2K19 struggles to meet expectations. It’s a mid-card talent with potential, but is too set in its ways to leave any lasting impact.
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