2K Games first installment of the WWE video game franchise offers a polishing on the current state of the ever-changing gameplay mechanics, graphics, and smelling of whatever it is that The Rock is cooking. WWE 2K14 had some big shoes to fill for me, as WWE 13 was the first wrestling title I have enjoyed since the beginning of the SmackDown! Vs Raw series. I have to say, the game definitely lives up to the hype, and further proves that 2K is a dominant force in the vast world of sports titles.
The concept is simple… You kick ass, get yours kicked, go through some tables, get hit with some chairs, lay some guys ( and gals) down for the 1, 2, 3, and call it a day once the belt is around your waist. WWE 2K14 allows that concept to run simply through the smooth mechanics of the game. 2k took charge and completely overhauled the game, allowing both the wrestlers and moves to execute their desired actions in the smoothest way possible. One thing that stands out to me like a sore thumb would be the reversal system. I found it a lot less “cheap” and a lot more efficient attempting to reverse moves in this installment, as well as having my moves reversed. Due to changes such as this, the game operates in a fashion almost seamlessly parallel to a live WWE event. Now, that doesn’t go on record without noting that there are always some glitchy hiccups when executing certain moves (characters move position in ring before an Irish whip, seldom inadequate physics against tables and ladders, etc.). These small graphical issues aren’t big enough to negatively alter the experience in any way, and I don’t expect a true elimination of that issue until the games shift to this new generation of console gaming.
The WWE Universe mode is a blast to run through. Running you through WWE’s history in the shoes of main eventers such as Hogan and Cena (woohoo!), WWE Universe mode has you replicate moves and events done through some of the biggest milestone matches of the WWE. The objective of WWE Universe mode, aside from forcing your inner child to reminisce and relive your favorite moments, is to unlock the remainder of the roster that is locked from the start (primarily legends with some alternate personas/outfits of more recent wrestlers we all know and love/hate. For the crowd that doesn’t want to invest the time, or patience, to unlock the roster, 2K offers a piece of roster-unlocking DLC that is included with the purchase of the season pass (or $1.99 when purchased individually). While I’m not a big fan of ruining the gaming experience, I do think it is a nice gesture of 2K, and really reaches out to a wider audience in offering that capability. I can say that I wish they included some more characters into the roster, but there is plenty to keep busy, and the roster expands even more through the purchase of the available DLC packs.
The soundtrack gets both repetitive and redundant quickly and is swarmed with mainstream rock and mostly tiring wrestler theme songs. The overall audio in the game, however, is noteworthy in that it takes direct audio feeds from the matches you play through in Universe mode, and some of WWE’s roster (such as the announcers) lend their voices to the game as they do year after year. The soundtrack has some songs that have been in previous titles, and putting clean versions of explicit songs on the home screen of a game just simply doesn’t appeal to me. The soundtrack was the biggest downfall of this WWE installment.
WWE 2K14 is a great wrestling title. The game makes vast improvements on recent installments and really sets the bar high for years to come. The combat is extremely fluent, and the wrestlers look and feel as real as ever. The only issues I had with the game were small and seldom graphical hiccups during certain moves and with certain weapons, and the arguably ear-stabbing soundtrack. The roster is expansive and includes some of WWE’s greatest, fan favorites, and least favorites. The WWE Universe mode offers some great feelings of nostalgia and enjoyable gameplay moments depicted through WWE’s history, and the overall feel of the game is exactly how a wrestling fan would want a WWE game to feel. Highly recommended for both veterans and first-time players of the franchise.