When I was in the 10th grade I got really into WWF wrestling. Being the pasty, and acne laden, young lad that I was, and seeing that people’s of the female persuasion were avoiding me quite adeptly, I needed something to occupy my time outside of my usual video game passions and so wrestling became that vice.
It was something that really only grabbed my attention for about 5 or 6 months, but I loved every minute of the matches that I caught on Fox 47 every Saturday or via video tape rentals from Woodman’s grocery store. Along with that, I spent a good deal of time playing Pro Wrestling for the NES and started to find that this a sport/game that could be a tremendous amount of fun to play.
Sadly, not many wrestling games could live up to the greatness of Pro Wrestling for a long time until I found WCW/nWo Revenge for the Nintendo 64 and I became enamored with the sport again for a spell. Revenge had an absolutely wonderful control system and the matches were tactical and entertaining to play, and the multiplayer on the system was chaotic and exciting every time.
For the last few years, I’ve dabbled with wrestling games trying to find that one that would draw me back again, and while last years WWE2K14 came close due to the vast amount of historical content that you could play through, this years version of the game just doesn’t quite do enough for me either.
In my initial time with the game, there are definitely some fun elements to the game, but there are also some pretty frustrating components that prevent me from saying that this is a game that you should run out and purchase.
Let’s start with the My Career mode. Once you have designed your wrestler, you are dropped into a tryout for the NXT, and even though I lost my first match I was still signed over the, vastly superior, CPU opponent who thoroughly dominated me in every way. Once you are signed you are sent to the WWE Performance Center to work on working on your skills, but even though you would think it would be more of a tutorial, they give you almost no feedback about how to get better at the game in these training matches. A brief explanation is given to the new “chain wrestling” mini-game, but beyond that, you’re kind of thrown into the game play without any real instruction as to how to pull off any specific attacks or special abilities even though certain matches report that they will give you bonuses for aerial attacks and such, but without any way of knowing how to do the special moves you have to press buttons at random until you can try to figure out what you are trying to do. The game could really use a true training gym feature where you could go against a defenseless CPU to get acclimated to the game controls and button configurations, but perhaps that feature will come up next year.
Along with those issues, there is no in game manual, but there is a “manual” section of the options, which when selected gives you a url for the WWE2K15 website. I appreciate them saving the paper and not printing out an actual manual along with the game, but having a small menu where it showed you button configurations would have been a nice touch.
As for the good in the game, I have enjoyed playing with the 2K showcase where you have a chance to play through two story arcs from the recent past (CM Punk vs. John Cena and Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.) While the story segments are fun and you are rewarded with unlockables by mirroring certain segments of the actual matches, it is disappointing to only have 2 story lines presented with the retail version of the game, and to get more stories, you have to pick up the season pass (which unlocks 3 additional showcase segments.) Also, if you manage to lose any of the matches in the Showcase, which can easily happen if you’re trying to accomplish all of the unlockables, you are subjected to virtually the same commentary over and over for the matches with very little variation. Again, the mode is fun, but it has some issues that just prevent it from being great.
Speaking of the commentary, even though the game touts that the commentary has been improved, you will still hear a great deal of the repetition from the Jerry “The King” Lawler and WWE announcer, Michael Cole. This is something that 2K has struggled with in both their WWE and NBA titles and I’m not sure what they can do to make it feel more organic, but it is definitely not a plus for the game.
If you want to know the best feature of the game, it has to be the customization capabilities that are included. You can modify almost every single element of the WWE universe, from who holds what championship belts to the complete modification of the broadcast calendar for the next year, and along with that, you can adjust sliders for just about every aspect of the matches as well. If you struggle with the reversal timing elements, there is a slider for that. If you think that the AI is too good at reversing foreign object attacks, you can adjust those rates. Want to make the wrestlers bleed when severely injured? Done! Nearly every aspect of the game can be customized to your own personal preferences and that is a huge plus.
Along with that there is a very rich character creation suite that allows you to modify everything from the words written on your headwear to the placement of various tattoos on your body. Different outfits, masks, arm and legwear are all available and allow for you to create a very diverse and different wrestlers, which allows you to really personalize the game to make it feel like it is “your WWE.”
To paraphrase a line from an NBC sitcom intro song, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have WWE2K15.” This is a game with a balance of good and bad elements, but based on my time, I would only be able to recommend the game as a rental.
Now I just have to wait for the moving truck to get here so I can dig out my copy of WCW/nWo and make Sting’s head bleed.