Friday 7 February 2014

WWE 2K14

In the year 2000, Japanese videogame company Yuke's got a hold of the rights to produce games based upon the World Wrestling Federation. They made Smackdown!, a game that finally got the wrestling genre right, and successfully brought players into the world of the WWF with all the glory and chair hits to the face that come with it. Now, 13 years later, Yuke's deliver to us gamers what they consider their best WWE title to date, WWE 2K14. Ever want to smash Hulk Hogan face first into a steel pole? Or how about being Yokozuna- yeah, that huge sumo dude- and doing a Banzai Drop right on the face of that smug shithead Chris Jericho? Well, I'm here to tell you that it's all possible and more. While WWE 2K14 is far from the best in the series, it's still a well-deserved time sink of thrills, action and classic wrestling ridiculous absurdness.

Back in the day I loved this series. The first game was excellent, but its sequel Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role was bloody excellent, and was the first game the series to let the player bring the action behind the cameras, backstage and even outside the arena. Ah, the memories of power-bombing Gangrel 40 times in a row- those kinds of memories will last forever folks. But since the release of the titles for the PS2, the games have become more elaborate, in-depth and are now a yearly release. If you've read any of my reviews in the past, you'll know that I hate the idea of a yearly release for a franchise. Sometimes it works, but most times it doesn't. With this franchise it never really works or feels fresh, but WWE 2K14 is a different story altogether.

WWE 2K14 is jam-packed full of content, and though many of the features from the previous game are still here, they're revamped almost completely and to great effect. The biggest and most talked about feature added to the series is the “30 Years of Wrestlemania mode”. This basically lets you take part in some of the most famous and iconic matches from Wrestlemania history. So whether you want to jump back in the past and take part in the Hulk Hogan vs Sgt. Slaughter fight, the epic Shawn Michaels vs Brett Hart throw-down or the most recent clash of the titans that was The Rock vs. John Cena, WWE 2K14 lets take part. It's pretty damn awesome!

You can also unlock various pieces of gear during these matches too by simply following what happened in the real match. For instance, during Wrestlemania XIV, Kane delivered a tombstone piledriver to the Undertaker directly onto a steel chair.  Do this during the match and you'll unlock some goodies. However, the game doesn't tell you want you need to do; so prior knowledge of past legendary matches is a must. This entire mode is the best part of the game, and is an excellent showcase of what WWE 2K14 is capable of.

Also in the game is “Streak Mode”, a feature entirely focused on The Undertakers reign as the one person to never lose a match at Wrestlemania. This mode lets the player either be The Undertaker defending his growing winning streak, or one of his many opponents trying to break it. Lastly is “WWE Universe Mode”, which is essentially a sandbox mode, which tries to replicate the on-going fights, stories and rivalries in the WWE world. This is the mode that will probably get the most play time, as it nicely gives the player an ongoing, atmospheric and largely authentic WWE experience.

All of this, on top of the ever expanding and detailed character creation system that now lets you save a whopping 100 characters, makes for a game that is absolutely jam packed full of content. That said, there are some players who will find it a little too similar to its predecessor, but overall Yukes are trying to reinvent the series here. This is most notable in the fluid controls and character movements, as the ability to do real-time counter-attacks is more present than ever before. This simple tweak makes the game far more fun than the last few instalments, and will keep matches unpredictable and tense.

Overall WWE 2K14 is a great entry into the series. It might not have the fun and excitement of the earlier games in the series, but despite being a yearly released title, this entry feels surprisingly fresh. Packed full of content and topped off with the potential for some hilarious multi-player brawls with friends, WWE 2K14 just might be the mindless time sink you've been looking for.

WWE 2K14 gets a ball busting, back breaking and chair shattering 8/10.

Denis Murphy

WWE 2K14 at CeX

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