Monday 26 January 2015

WWE 2K15

One of my best memories when it comes to wrestling is watching Wrestlemania 6 in 1990. The main event was Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior, a match that has gone down in wrestling history. It was incredible, and throughout the real match on TV my four brothers and I had our very own match of Royal Rumble on our couch. The rules were of course adapted for a typical Irish living room, with the last one left on the couch by the end of the Hogan vs Warrior match the winner. I didn't win. In fact, I was actually hurled off the side of the couch, knocked over two cups of tea and a packet of Hobnobs, and pretty much fell flat on my face. Despite the fact that it hurt a lot, I got right up hoping I wouldn't miss any of the non-Murphy family wrestling action. It didn't disappoint either as Warrior kicked Hogans ass up and down the SkyDome. However, from there my love for wrestling dwindled, and though the Attitude Era was absolutely fantastic, I didn't bother tuning in beyond that. Still though, I did enjoy the WWF wrestling games that Yuke's were churning out from the late 90's onwards, but with Yuke's essentially peddling a business model in which they release a sequel ever year, is this latest entry into the series worth your time? If you have WWE 2K14, then no. If you don't have WWE 2K14, then still probably not.

Developed by Yuke's and out now on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 comes WWE 2K15, the latest WWE game that, instead of an update on last years release, is more like a downgrade. WWE 2K15 sets a milestone for the series, as this is the first entry in the franchise to make it onto the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. However, beyond some slight- and I mean slight- visual nods to this being developed with new tech in mind, you'd be forgiven in thinking that WWE 2K15 is a game for early last-gen. 

In a surprising move by Yuke's, certain modes differ depending on which generation of console you're buying the game for. There are two main modes to choose from on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions. 2K Showcase mode is essentially a mode in which you can take part in historical matches. However, with the vast array of feuds to choose from, this mode is only punctuated by two interesting rivalries- Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. CM Punk. This mode tries to offer the player a more in-depth look into these classic past rivalries, and it does a decent job at replicating some of the WWE's better moments. Then there's MyCareer which, as you might assume, lets you create your very own wrestler in the attempt to climb the ranks to become world champion. Though this mode starts quite strong, it quickly falls into the trap that has been a major problem with the series- repetitive and soulless matches. Granted the game does try and inject feuds, friendships and rivalries into the mix on the fly, but it never really takes off and after a few hours into MyCareer, you'll find yourself taking part in matches you literally don't even care about. Neither of these modes bring the series into any new territory, but that's something I've come to accept from a franchise that is being milked beyond recognition. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions of the game have 2K Showcase mode, but instead of MyCareer mode these versions have Who Got NXT mode, which basically focuses on five up and coming stars from WWE NXT, the WWE show that is the replacement for ECW.

Gameplay within the ring remains near identical and personally that's not a good thing. For far too long has this series got by with clunky, shoddy and unresponsive controls, and the trend continues here. But if you can get past the fact that moving your character feels like playing Jenga wearing oven gloves, there's enough badass moves, awesome finishers and crude weapons here to have a bit of fun with. Instead of just hammering on your opponent, you'll also need to keep an eye on both your health and stamina bars, both of which are vital to maintain. The downside is that 2K15 has removed a few features previously present in the series, namely Create-A-Special Move, Story Designer, Create-An-Arena and Custom MP3 tracks for entrance music. There's no reason or excuse for this, meaning that with the tiny improvements it might have over 2K14, 2K15 is a downgrade for the series, plain and simple.

It's sad when after playing WWE 2K15, a game that was released in late 2014 on hardware that is incredibly powerful, that I still deem Yuke's Smackdown series much better in every way. That series was on both the Playstation and Playstation 2, and above all else featured a career mode that was incredible versatile, fun and story-driven. Well, I guess it's time to dust off my old Playstation 2.

WWE 2K15 gets the Smackdown and receives 2/5.


Denis Murphy

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