The Average Gamer

WWE 2k15 Review (Xbox One)

WWE 2K15 screenshot 1
Professional wrestling is extravagant and flamboyantly camp, populated with larger-than-life characters. These real-life pantomime heroes and villains should make for ideal contestants in a fun, fast-paced fighting game. In WWE 2K14, 2K Sports created just such a game, full of customisable options and the ability to make your own wrestling superstars, complete with their own entrances, finishers and storylines. Bringing this to a current-gen platform in the form of WWE 2K15 should have been an easy upgrade, combining razor-sharp visuals and physics with tried-and-tested gameplay.

The first thing I always do in these games is make a character; I’m always impressed with the amount of customization offered to players. You can upload your own artwork to use, change the skin tone to an almost infinite amount of colours, and everything in-between. So I created a pink guy with a horn and mask that said “BUM” on it. I did notice that several of the customisable options available in previous WWE games (such as ‘create a special move’ and ‘create a story’) had been removed, which is a confusing step backwards. Nonetheless, I jumped into the My Career mode.

My Career mode allows you to take your fancy custom-made character through the WWE ranks as either a good guy “face” or a bad guy “heel”. These two are measured by a small alignment meter that never actually seems to move and different face and heel actions have little to no effect, making any choices you make pointless. You quickly find that the matches often offer no cut scenes and that each one offers no real career progression options other than being just another match. So climbing through the WWE ladder feels hollow.

WWE 2K15 screenshot 32K Showcase is a mode that focuses on the awesome rivalries between CM Punk vs John Cena and Shawn Michaels vs Triple H; this mode allows you to re-enact some of the pivotal moments of WWE between these combatants. This drama really made the game much more interesting, in fact I was far more invested in these stories than I was in my own hand-built wrestler, even after I had taken him from open try-outs to top level fights.

WWE 2K15, being a wrestling game, obviously has a large focus on grappling. Sadly, the grappling mechanics are really, really dull. 2K Sports introduces chain wrestling as a new feature in this WWE outing, where you and your opponent try to out-grapple one other. But instead of letting the player move the sticks around to try and control the arms and lock in a grapple somewhere, you’re forced into a kind of mini-game, where each lock/grapple beats another. I signed up to wrestle, not play rock-paper-scissors over and over again. It’s a mechanic that slows the game to a crawl and destroys any attempt to make the game an immersive experience. It’s optional and you can turn it off, but one has to wonder why it’s there at all, in place of anything interesting that would make the grappling fun and unique.

Counter attacks are also annoying. If your opponent climbs on to the ropes, you can be fairly sure they intend to crush you into the canvas with a jump, but when you press the button to counter the move, the game tells you ‘too soon!’ and leaves you to be squished. The timing of when you can block and counter a move seems arbitrary; it’s frustrating and random.

WWE 2K15 screenshot 2The game’s graphics are, on the whole, good: the majority of wrestlers look like their real-life counterparts, and the audience looks pretty convincing… until you look past the first couple of rows. Then you notice how lazily-rendered and lifeless the rear audience members are, and when they do move, they often suffer horrible frame rate issues. I was also struck with extremely slow loading times, which in a game like this I wouldn’t really expect; there’s no huge world to explore or anything like that so it baffled me. However, several friends and journalists have told me that issue this may be limited to the Xbox One version.

WWE 2K15 is a disappointing step down from the previous instalments; 2K Sports have removed several customization options, knocked the story down a peg, and made the gameplay maddeningly slow and unenjoyable. Wrestling fans should stick to WWE 2K14 and hope that the publishers learn that they shouldn’t fix what ain’t broke.

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