Wednesday, 25 October 2017

WWE 2K18 ★★★★☆


Another year, another chance to play as a large, sweaty man (or woman) in WWE 2K18. For the past few years, the franchise has been languishing with some less than stellar titles, all littered with ropey graphics and so many glitches, you’d think you were watching a Kalisto promo. But press for this year’s iteration suggested a complete overhaul to the game’s graphics and mechanics, prompting ‘YES’ chants around the world, and now it’s time to see if it lives up to this early promise.

Will WWE 2K18 be the cream of the crop, or get booed harder than Roman Reigns? Pull up your tights and let’s find out:

The Good

It’s hard to argue that WWE 2K18’s biggest asset is its almost obnoxiously large roster, boasting roughly 200 player models, each with their own unique moveset, costumes and entrances. From NXT to legends of the past, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any favourites not included (except Hulk Hogan, and CM Punk… and Chris Benoit). I can confirm that the ultimate match up of Ric Flair and Bobby Roode is nothing short of glorious.

If somehow the existing roster isn’t enough for you, then I’m happy to report that the Create-A-Wrestler feature is better than ever, allowing you to create your own twisted monstrosities, or download those made by others. Want to play as Shrek? You’ve got it. Wondering what John Cena would look like as part of Bullet Club? It’s there. Do you desire to see Brock Lesnar make his way to the ring, dancing like the New Day? Well, we all have our dreams.

All these characters, both real and fake, look incredible in WWE 2K18 thanks to massively upgraded graphics. Unlike previous years which looked like HD remasters of something you’d play on PS2, this year’s game finally looks at home on current gen consoles (yes, I include the Switch in that), with realistic skin textures and bodily damage more visceral than ever. Indeed, it’s a little disturbing how accurately some of the deceased wrestlers are portrayed, and that’s a testament to how well they’ve been recreated.

The Bad

Unfortunately, unlike Tye Dillinger, WWE 2K18 isn’t the perfect 10. Although the graphics feel vastly improved, aside from a few additions to the mechanics and the inclusion of 8 man tag matches, there really hasn’t been much in the way of change when it comes to gameplay. This alone wouldn’t be an issue, but it does mean that like previous years, 2K18 is as glitchy as all hell. You’ll still clip through the ring, you’ll get stuck in the ropes, and you might even get floored by one Superman Punch. Oh wait, that’s just how they’re booking Roman Reigns? Never mind.
What’s more, the MyCareer mode has succumbed to the dreaded loot box system. Now before you grab your pitchforks, you purchase these with in-game currency, so technically the game isn’t ‘pay to win’, but it adds an element of luck that detracts from the sense of accomplishment you get from progressing through the mode. Truly a heel move from My Career mode.

The Verdict

Like many games in the series that preceded it, WWE 2K18 feels quite allegorical of the WWE as a whole - they give us as much frustration as pleasure and are just as entertaining when things go wrong as when they go as planned. It may be broken, but we love it for that very reason.

WWE 2K18 isn’t a good game, it’s not a bad game, it’s THE game.

Sir Thomas Baker

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