Before we begin, let's examine the reception of WWE 2K15 on LastGen consoles, in order to give this particular review a frame of reference. With IGN granting it a review score of 5.9/10, and Gamespot awarding it a 4/10, a lot of people have been dissuaded from purchasing the game for their NextGen consoles.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game are really quite awful. They've removed several key features in order to force gamers to purchase the more expensive versions. So has your wait been in vain? Is this WWE 2K15 the game that you've been waiting for and is it worthy of the title "The next generation of wrestling"? Let's find out!
WWE 2K15 will be released tomorrow, November 18th, for PS4 and Xbox One.
WWE 2K15 on Xbox One & PS4
So what is there for fans of the series in these NextGen versions? My engagement with these games has always been in the form of pure, manic enjoyment. I'm not a fan of WWE, I simply enjoyed the pleasure of bashing my friends in the head with a chair, therefore I shall do my best to highlight some of the features that fans of WWE will be wanting to know!
Improvements from 2K14
In terms of graphical improvements, there really isn't that much here. Sure some of the lighting and environments shine a bit more, as well as the character designs, but overall this game really doesn't look a whole lot better than 2K14. A bit disappointing for a NextGen title, seeing as this is the area that most publishers seem to be pushing at the moment.
Facial animations are still peculiar for most of the old wrestlers in the game, whereas some of the new characters, such as Gold Dust, do actually look pretty good. With the more standard characters of the game, it seems that they were simply imported from 2K14, and given a small bit of polish and that's really it. Most of their peculiar characteristics remain.
A small area to mention for sure, but one thing I always enjoyed about these games was the ridiculous commentary. Micheal Cole and Jerry Lawle make a return yet again for WWE 2K15 and they reportedly recorded a whole lot of new dialogue. Yet, despite this being the fact, a number of things that they are known for saying in 2K14 have returned, which just felt lazy.
I didn't really here any new memorable dialogue, they seemed to have just recorded the names of all of the new fighters and modes.
This game is meant to signify the arrival of NextGen WWE, attempting to transform the game into a true wrestling game as opposed to a fighting game with WWE stars. In attempts to make this game feel more realistic, the main areas that we can see alterations are in terms of some additional grappling options.
Pressing the grapple button at the beginning of the match will initiate a collar-and-elbow tie up. From there, each opponent will press one of three face buttons to place their opponent into a side headlock, a wrist lock or a waist lock with a rock-paper-scissors style outcome. (Headlock beats Wrist lock, Wrist lock beats Waist lock, Waist lock beats Headlock.)
Whomever wins will place their opponent in the corresponding hold while both players rotate the right analog stick to find a "sweet spot". If the attacker finds it first, they'll perform a move, if the defender finds it first, they'll gain the upper hand. Additionally, the attacking wrestler can strike or wrench the opponent's limb, making it harder for them to find the sweet spot.
This is admittedly an intriguing addition to the game, though it really only happens about twice during a match. Though the fact that this can be turned off in the menu gave me some real insight into how 2K developed this game. While they wish to implement new features (and also remove a lot of old greats, we'll come back to this), it appears to me that any moment of significant change is either not big enough or what they considered "too big" and can therefore be turned off if the player doesn't like it.
New to the game is a three-tier stamina meter which controls the pace of a match. This really reminded me of playing Fight Night, and while I appreciate the game was attempting to mimic other franchises that focus upon realism, this did feel like an implementation that should have featured years ago. But I suppose we have it now, but in a toned down form.
Each move that is performed, especially striking and running, will drain the stamina meter. During the first tier, the wrestler will be full of energy and perform moves easily. During the second tier, the wrestler will begin to slow down. In the third tier, the wrestler will be completely exhausted, even being unable to perform their finishing moves should it drop too low.
Though yet again, 2K show their fear and cowardice for change. Although the stamina meter cannot be turned off, stamina will slowly regenerate as long as a meter is not depleted and can be adjusted to drain more slowly. This is kind of ridiculous because if you both just stop fighting for a while you seemingly forget about all that previous grappling and move on as strong as when you began.
The game's submission system has actually been revamped though. The "Breaking Point" gauge has been replaced with a two part circular gauge. The mechanic of the system remains mostly the same, but players only have to mash a single button rather than all four. To be honest, this wasn't as much fun as wildly mashing away at the buttons to keep your opponent down, it's now far too easy and takes away that thrill element of waiting to see if they can get out.
In terms of the roster of wrestlers, this game is quite impressive though and they have actually made improvements with regards to superstars and their fighting styles. They seem a little bit closer to the people as opposed to everyone having the same playing style as each other and a number of the physics issues you see on LastGen consoles, while certainly not gone, aren't so prominent here.
2K Showcase is a mode that lets you relive previous famous match ups in WWE history. To be honest, this just felt like a rehashing of, not even 2K14, but 2K13's Attitude Era, just that the scope is a little bit larger with an increased degree of depth in terms of personal rivalries, presenting them as small documentaries.
Finally there is Proving Ground and MyCareer, the former which pits players against an overpowered John Cena, I must say was the only mode that I really enjoyed. Seeing as he's the top wrestler in WWE 2K15, you must work hard to take this guy down and I did have a lot of fun attempting to do so. Though it is only unlocked after completion of MyCareer, which makes it a bit annoying that you have to go through a mode that you may not be entirely interested in.
2K14 was a great wrestling game, it was innovative, enjoyable and had a wide variety of customisation and modes. Sadly, that is not the case with this title. The removed features of this game are just beyond bewildering. Why was it necessary to get rid of such great accomplishments?
Players can no longer create Divas, Arenas Belts, Finishers or give custom theme music to wrestlers. There are NO handicap features in the game, at all! Here's an extensive list for you of the creation modes that have been removed: Create a Diva, Create a Title, Create an Arena, Custom Themes, All the custom entrances, other than the guy talking on his phone and Create a Finisher.
1v1 features missing: Inferno, Ladder, I Quit, 2 out of 3 Falls, Special Referee, Casket, 3 Stages of Hell and Backstage Brawl. 2v2 features missing: Tornado Tag, Extreme Rules, Table, Mixed, Ladder, Hell in a Cell and more! They've even removed most of these from 3 person and 4 person matches, though most do feature in MyCareer.
Honestly, 2K drastically reduced what makes a wrestling game enjoyable for both fans of wrestling and those of the great modes featured in previous titles.
Over all, I have been pretty disappointed with this game on both generations. It certainly is a lot cleaner than 2K14 in terms of combat and the graphics have slight improvements, but all the other gameplay mechanics feel like too little too late and demonstrate 2K's reluctance for change OR their desire to remove everything we loved about the series. Some of the new combat systems really are great, but with such a reduced experience, I can't help but dislike this title.
This game really isn't worth anyone's time, I see nothing here for fans of the series or anyone with a controller. In the title picture of the article it states "Work in Progress", I couldn't agree more.