The WWE’s charismatic, star-studded roster has finally entered next gen. Several years and installments of official WWE branded wrestling games have led up to this highly anticipated moment. Longtime game developer Yuke’s has partnered with the basketball sim geniuses at Visual Concepts to properly bring WWE’s 2015 sequel to the Xbox One and PS4. Unfortunately, WWE 2K15’s overall content package is slimmed down tremendously in several areas, which makes it feel like an incomplete and disappointing entry in the series.
From first glance, it’s easy to see just how incredible the game looks. The Xbox One and PS4’s versions of this “wrassler” looks impressive. Some of the models sported in-game look completely identical to their real-world counterparts, and the arenas look just as awesome. It’s pretty easy to spot which ones were given the next-gen visual overhaul and see which Superstars had their previous game models simply ported over. Some of the roster members (John Cena, Randy Orton) look incredible, while a few wrestlers (CM Punk, some of the Divas) don’t look as clean and realistic as everyone else. WWE 2K’s legacy issues (body parts getting entangled with each other during awkward move exchanges) are still present, sadly.
The audio department excels and falters in several areas. The in-game soundtrack is a huge step down from WWE 2K14. Losing the option to jam out to wrestling themes and original tunes is a major letdown. The curated tracks provided by John Cena aren’t very plentiful and to be quite honest, most of them aren’t very good. You’ll likely grow tired with them after just a few play sessions. The commentary has to be commended for its notable improvements. Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler went out of their way to record better lines and freshen up their vocal exchanges. Their commentary really shines during the classic feud moments seen in Showcase Mode.
WWE 2K15’s gameplay is familiar, but a few new mechanics both aid and hurt the gameplay at times. The grapple system is a nice addition that replicates the flow of action seen at the start of real wrestling bouts. It feels good to get into a heated grapple exchange with a fellow player and become the victor. These moments lead to players getting an advantage over the opponent and put their technical wrestlers skill on full display. The stamina system is cool in theory. As matches go longer, Superstars begin to move slower and reflect their damaged conditions on-screen. These mid-to-end match mechanics become quite the bore, though. Wrestlers begin moving at a snail’s pace, which kills the action mighty fast. The novelty of hitting a finisher and pulling off a fatigue filled pin wears off just as fast.
Two of the major modes included in this new iteration includes MyCareer Mode and Showcase Mode. MyCareer takes your created wrestler on a journey that starts from WWE’s training camp and finishes on the biggest stage of them all as far as wrestling is concerned. Things start out well as you enter the NXT training camp and fight your way through fellow up and comers. This mode loses its luster quickly due to a number of factors – repetitive matches, text-heavy moments with rivals, a painfully slow build to improving your Superstar and uninteresting story lines. The potential for MyCareer being great is there, but the flawed execution will surely disappoint you.
Showcase Mode also showcased the potential to be a huge, positive addition to the series. Two major rivalries (John Cena vs. CM Punk and Shawn Michael vs. Triple H) are included. Similar to last year’s 30 Years of WrestleMania mode, you’ll take control of certain wrestlers and complete match specific goals during key moments of a storied feud. The attention to detail this mode sports must be applauded. The extra cutscenes, real life footage and cool unlockable items make this mode more of a joy. However, it’s hard to completely love this mode. Only two rivalries are playable and the incredible suite of legends seen in WWE 2K14 are missing this year. Having the option to play legendary rivalries such as Steve Austin vs. The Rock or Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels is an issue that’s tough to overlook for hardcore wrestling fans.
WWE 2K15’s customization options are decent, but they also come with some glaring omissions. Story designer, customized championship and even the option to create your own Divas have been taken out. The option to transport real-world images into the game via your console’s camera is a very cool option. Pulling modern logos from your favorite wrestlers new gear and porting them onto your created Superstars keeps your custom roster up to date. It’s still saddening to see that you only have the option to create 25 wrestlers instead of 100 this time, though.
WWE 2K15 will elicit a long sigh from longtime followers of the series. Most of the incredible content sported in WWE 2K14 are cut out completely from this new-gen sequel, some Superstars don’t look as good as their counterparts, the roster is depleted and the two most talked about modes are plagued by annoying problems. WWE 2K15 looks next-gen, but it completely feels like a last-gen step back for the entire franchise…
Images: Yuke’s, Visual Concepts, 2K Games