Gutteridge's WWE 2K14 Video Game Review - "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"
By Darren Gutteridge
The saying "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" could have easily been the tagline for WWE 2K14. With the fall of THQ, 2K had the chance to swoop in, freshen things up, and bring a lot of people back who had become disinterested after years of repetition. Unfortunately, I feel the acquisition came too late for any major construction to take place, so for the most part, this is essentially an expansion pack of WWE 13. But while that may sound like a damning statement, there are many things to praise in this year’s effort.
30 Years of Wrestlemania
This year’s story mode is the biggest difference between the two games. Whereas last year you had the chance to play through the highlights of the Attitude Era, 2K14 takes you on a journey through the 30 years of Wrestlemania. Split between five distinct eras – Hulkamania, "The New Generation", the Attitude Era, "Ruthless Aggression" and the, ugh, "Universe" era – each Wrestlemania is featured, with one or two matches from each to play through. The optional objectives return as well, giving the player instructions to follow (which can sometimes be very vague) if they want to recreate famous "Wrestlemania moments". Think Hogan slamming Andre, Austin passing out in the sharpshooter, HBK’s "I’m sorry, I love you" to Flair, etc.
It’s just as engaging as last year’s story, and the only real criticism I have is the lopsided portrayals of some Manias over others. The game will occasionally offer up a video package (as well as in-engine recreations of promos) detailing how a certain match came about, but this is a select few, although the number does improve when getting closer to the modern Manias. I for one would have liked WWE’s masterful editing team to have put together presentations for all of the matches, as they do a much better job of giving context than the text-based descriptions do.
Although this is the only major difference, there are a lot of little things that have been tweaked. The largely untouched creative suite has been given two nice additions. Although the ability to change the colour of entrance attires for pre-rendered Superstars won’t wow everyone, for someone as keen on attention-to-detail as me, it was a good addition. The more intriguing addition for the series’ fanatical legion of creators is the ability to import wrestler’s heads onto blank bodies. Should CM Punk switch to long tights, you can now recreate that here instead of waiting for next year’s game. The choices are restricted to only a handful of wrestlers, and you can’t change hairstyles/beards, but I suppose limits were necessary if 2K wants you to buy next year’s game for all the up-to-date character models.
Other additions may go unnoticed, but they are the things that gave me the most joy to discover. NXT has a presence this year, with the NXT Title and NXT Tag Titles available, as well as a playable Full Sail arena. The graphics have a certain polish to them, which was lacking at points last year, and I can’t tell you how much better the online has been thus far. Although I initially stated that WWE 13 had overcome the crippling problems of it’s predecessor, as the year wore on the problems returned ten fold. But, so far, things have been smooth. I may have just cursed myself though.
But as I said, with a lot of things getting ported from last year, familiar problems persist. Clipping issues, some frustrating menu choices, and lacklustre crowd and commentary clips remain, as does the forever dull WWE Universe mode. Creative suites go unchanged for the sixth or seventh straight year, which is something 2K really needs to spice up next year. And with the addition of so many legends, the modern day roster is slightly lacking. Although most of last years DLC characters (Ryback, Sandow, Cesaro, Tensai etc) are included from scratch, actual new characters are limited to The Shield and the Prime Time Players, with Fandango and Big E Langston joining the roster later in the year as DLC. Whether WWE is to blame for a lack of new faces, or 2K simply ran out of time to include The Usos, RVD and Goldust (Axel and The Wyatts came too late for inclusion) is up for debate.
Taken on it’s own merits, WWE 2K14 is a good wrestling game. The refined fighting engine is pretty great (although I have struggled with reversals so far this year), and comes with a ton of extra features. However, with the amount of good games out at the moment, and with the PS4 and X-Box One right around the corner, I can’t recommend you rush out to buy it. It’s just too similar to WWE 13, and unless you really want to check out the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode, you can keep playing last years game (especially with the huge selection of created wrestlers available to download) until 2K brings out 2K15 on the next gen consoles. And 2K15 will hopefully herald a significant change to the formula, given all the new hardware 2K will have to play with, and given that they will now have a full year to create it.
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