The second WWE wrasslin’ home console game published by 2K Sports since THQ went belly-up, this entry into the long-running series is more of a simulation than ever before- and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Whereas past titles were a button-mashing slamboree (pun intended), WWE 2K15 requires players to carefully manage their stamina and put on a good show if they want to please the WWE Universe. Opening with a grapple triggers a paper-rock-scissors style mini-game meant to emulate the basic chain wrestling present at the start of most matches, which can be turned off, as can the stamina meter. Gameplay becomes much more methodical as other superstars are added to the mix, because lower stamina levels make it nearly impossible to perform power moves or even drape your arm over an opponent for the pin. I prefer these tweaks as it makes cheap wins far less common and weaker opponents, including Bo Dallas, credible threats.
Mere wins in WWE 2K15’s revamped MyCareer mode won’t instantly nab your created superstar the top spot on the card, the actual quality of matches themselves will. Similar to the career modes implemented back during the WWE brand split, your decisions can turn your character face or heel and affect how the storylines play out. Also worth noting is the 2K Showcase mode, which replaces last year’s 30 Years of WrestleMania mode and follows two of the fiercest rivalries in the past decade of programming: John Cena vs CM Punk and Triple H vs Shawn Michaels. All but John Cena are retired from in-ring action nowadays, making this mode more of a nostalgia trip than a way to enhance current talent.
While Create-A-Superstar mode is still part of whole package, there are quite a few features which have been removed this time around. Create-An-Arena and Story Designer- gone. The option for custom MP3 entrance music- gone. My favorite customization mode in recent memory, Create-A-Special Move, has also been nixed. On the upside, match types alike Hell in a Cell and Three Stages of Hell have not been removed, so there’s that.
One of the things I used to always look forward to when playing WWE games was the relatively incredible graphics that (at least in my little kayfabe-free mind) seemed to keep blurring the line between virtual and reality. That is not the case in WWE 2K15, as the visuals are strikingly, staggeringly sub-par. Don’t get me wrong, the game’s menus and presentation are as polished and glistening as Paige’s… everything, but even on the PlayStation 4, superstars’ hair still looks like choppy as looks like it cuts through their chest and shoulders. Characters’ eyes are also as lifeless as a monstrous anomaly from Assassin’s Creed Unity.
At the end of the day, WWE 2K15 is as faithful and realistic a WWE experience as a fan can get today aside from attending a live event. What remains of the create-a-wrestler mode is near nirvana for those who want to spend hours putting their own avatar in-game or make wrestlers from other promotions that licensing simply doesn’t allow. The graphics are unfortunately underwhelming and gameplay mechanics take a bit to get used to at first, but for power-bombing your aggressions away, it doesn’t get any better than this until next year.
WWE 2K15 is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360.
WWE 2K15 Official Launch Trailer