WWE 2K14 Review
Written Friday, November 01, 2013 By Lee Bradley
The intro to WWE 2K14’s 30 Years of WrestleMania mode can’t fail to draw you in. Tracing the evolution of the event from its slightly more grubby early days, right up to its current ultra-shiny status, the live-action footage offers up moments that’ll make even the most casual WWE fan go, “I remember that!”
That’s the beauty of WWE 2K14’s flagship new mode. Whether you’ve followed the sport from the early days, have dipped in and out over the years, or are even a recent convert, WrestleMania has offered up some iconic events, providing images that have endured for decades and 30 Years of WrestleMania taps directly into that. Challenging players to re-enact those iconic moments, from Andre The Giant and Big John Studd’s Bodyslam Challenge, to Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels’ Ladder Match, Undertaker’s Streak, The Rock versus "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan and blimey there’s too many to even gloss over, WWE 2K14's 30 Years of WrestleMania mode is massive. It’s all there.
"Hey! Get down from there and come and play doctor with me!"
It’s a familiar move by sports games. EA has pulled the same trick on a number of occasions with its sports franchises over the years. But nevertheless, it’s a welcome addition; individual challenges from 46 of WrestleMania’s most memorable matches, laced with contextual info, archive footage and pictures, and short cutscene rewards that deliver all the drama. Developer Yuke’s has clearly poured some love into the mode, despite the fact that it loses some of its impetus as you progress. It’s best dipped into, rather than given extended play sessions.
Elsewhere and the rest of the modes are present and correct, including WWE Universe mode, in which players can create an experience similar to WWE television programming, with teams and rivalries, match interference and pre or post-match attacks. This time out customisation options have been added, alongside more themes and the ability to make the Divas Championship your Major Title. But in truth, the changes are negligible.
RKO doubles up.
WWE 2K14 is showing signs of neglect in other areas too. The commentary is still oddly non-specific and prone to repetition, an issue that starts off as a minor niggle but over the course of several hours gets right on your tits. There’s baffling collision detection and clipping problems too, which you'd hope would have been ironed out by now. And although all real-life wrestlers are hulking great big monsters of men, they’re still intelligent enough to know when to finish each other off (ahem). Your AI opponents, meanwhile, have clearly let the steroids go to their head and often pass up gilt-edged opportunities for victory.
Meanwhile, the core gameplay remains largely the same. The emphasis on counterattacks has been dialled down a little from last year, ensuring that matches avoid endless reversals, while there’s a selection of new wake up taunts, finisher variations and some brilliantly brutal new OMG moments. Against human opponents, running strike spamming has been effectively ended with the addition of a short pre-run animation and… that’s about it. It’s essentially the same game at a core level.
Hulk shows Andre his amazing levitation move.
That means that WWE 2K14’s combat remains an issue. It doesn’t flow particularly well, the move sets are limited and it all crumbles into bumbling awkwardness when there’s more than two players in the ring. The real WWE is an almost balletic affair, a neatly choreographed dance that tells a story through motion. WWE 2K14 is great at telling the stories that surround the fights, but in the ring it’s stilted and lumpen. Regular players of the series may have acclimatised, but WWE doesn’t provide the tactical combat opportunities that it should.
Neither does WWE 2K14 do anything particularly new with its achievements list, regurgitating many of the cheevos from last year’s game. Thankfully there’s only a couple of online achievements and relatively few require hours of grinding, so it’s not offensive, but it is a bit stale.
And that’s the main problem with WWE 2K14. It may be under the umbrella of a new publisher following THQ’s collapse last year, but despite 2K’s presence it’s still Yuke’s gazillionth wrestling game and one that, aside from the ever expanding game modes, is in desperate need of a refresh. Hopefully the next generation of consoles can facilitate a radical rethink for the WWE series, but until then we’re left with a familiar experience that despite the flashy presentation, is looking a little worn.
Other than the occasionally shonky commentary and a decent selection of noisy rock songs on the soundtrack, it’s all rather unremarkable and perfectly serviceable.
The character models and their animations are decent, but you can occasionally spot identical members of the crowd sitting a few seats away from each other. It does the job.
Still a laugh with mates, WWE 2K14 is showing signs of age, tinkering with but not overhauling a limited combat system. After a few years of the same thing, it’s time for a change.
The headline new addition is 30 Years of WrestleMania mode, a love letter to the game’s most famous event that draws brilliantly on the sport’s heritage. Elsewhere the changes are negligible.
Another solid list that unfortunately regurgitates many achievements that we’ve seen before. Just like the game itself, it would seem Yuke’s has done as much as they can within the current set-up.
Despite the beautifully produced 30 Years of WrestleMania mode, WWE 2K14 is lacking. It should feel like Hulk Hogan in his pomp, but it’s in danger of becoming like Mickey Rourke’s The Wrestler; ageing, injured and living off past glories.
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