As a young boy I was a giant wrestling fan, even, in those days, a Hulkamaniac. I had everything from action figures and shirts to wrestling buddies. I was even Hulk Hogan for Halloween. I regret not purchasing the WWE 2K15 Hulkamania edition. In my younger years, I wanted to be a wrestler myself; I am what they call a mark. For many reasons, as I grew older, my love for wrestling shrunk, but throughout the years I continued to purchase the WWE video games. This year was no different. I purchased WWE 2K15, excited to try out this year’s game.
The first thing I did when playing the WWE 2K15 was have a single match with Sting against Triple H. Sting. Being a pre-order exclusive, this was the only reason I pre-ordered the game. Sting was my favourite wrestler growing up — I was a huge fan of his crow gimmick. If he wasn’t a pre-order exclusive I would have waited to purchase. Regardless, I lost that first match. The game’s roster is smaller in terms of quality and numbers, with omissions such as Zack Ryder, Sin Cara and JBL. Legends like Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre the Giant and Eddie Guerrero were also left out, but were included in previous versions. The pacing of each match is much slower now and I believe this is for the better. The slower speed prevents people from spamming strikes because it is easier to reverse when slower. Each match starts off with a chain wrestling mini-game. As in real life, game matches do not start off with performing some kind of high spot or big move. The whole point of the chain wrestling is really to give the better wrestler a bit of a momentum boost. Stamina makes a huge difference this time. As the match goes on, your wrestler will move slower, which can build up to some pretty cool moments like crawling towards the man you’re facing, going for a pin, or staggering up the top rope. If you don’t watch your stamina correctly the AI or human you’re facing could make a comeback and win the match. However, I found that sometimes the matches go too slowly. The grappling is the same as it has always been yet it feels better because of the added sense of reality. Even though there are fewer moves, this game is a blueprint to build up from for next year’s game.
The AI has improved this year. There is no standing around and doing nothing with the AI, which was a huge annoyance in the past. In harder difficulty levels, reversals are harder to pull off and more frequent for the computer, which can actually reversesignature finishers. The only real problem I have with the AI is during tag matches because they do not come in the ring when you make a pin. If you’ve been playing this series like I have then you’ll get used to everything fairly quickly. WWE 2K15 veers away from the classic arcade feel and moves towards more of a simulation feel. If you are a fan of the series, you’ll be pleased with what they did.
First, I went into the much talked about ‘My Career’ mode, which is a mode where you bring your created wrestler through minor leagues of NXT all the way up to Raw. This mode was a giant frustration and let-down to me. The mode seems to me that 2K forgot wrestlers talk. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but for a game that has a mode about two huge rivalries in the WWE, you would think they would at least give you text to really bring life to the mode’s events. A HUGE part of the wrestling is the art of the wrestling promo. These promos are used to hype or bring meaning to a match. Sure, you can “tweet”, but other than that there are no promos or any words said to bring hype and meaning to a match. I really feel like they missed out on an important part of wrestling as a whole. Which brings me to my next point — it took me eight hours of ‘My Career’ to get into an actual meaningful storyline. Most of my matches were just single matches, other than the one ‘falls count anywhere’ match and two ‘tag team’ matches. The beginning of ‘My Career’ felt like a series of matches that had no meaning to them at all. Yes, you chased and defended the NXT title, but, beyond that, there is no real reason for doing the matches besides trying to get to the bigger shows. The lack of storylines makes the mode feel bare. The only time you’re in a story line is when you’re in a ppv. One weird thing that was left out, which makes very little sense to me, is the fact that you cannot change the difficulty. After a while you’ll get used to the level of difficulty (this will happen faster if you’re a veteran of the series). After that, the matches become rather easy and make the grind-fest even harder to finish. I would skip this mode all together and just pay the $1.99 to unlock everything.
Luckily there is a 2K showcase, which is a mode that takes a look at the rivalry matches between HBK vs Triple H and CM Punk vs John Cena. You get to relive several real-life matches. Examples are the unsanctioned match at summerslam between HBK and Triple H, Kane and Triple H’s casket match during the infamous and horrible Katie Vick storyline, the first elimination chamber match, CM Punk vs The Rock and CM Punk vs John Cena at Money In the Bank PPV the night he walked out of the WWE during the summer of punk.
The best thing about WWE 2K15 is the presentation. Sports entertainment has never looked or sounded better. Most of the roster had their faces scanned into the game and this produced amazing results. Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, and Cena turned out to be absolutely stunning. Those who didn’t get their faces scanned into the game stick out. The Rock and CM Punk have only improved slightly while the divas look awful. The entrances of the wrestlers are almost flawless. A few wrestlers are missing pieces of their attire that they wear during their entrances, but other than that, the entrances are still amazing.
Glitches that happen on last gen consoles barely happen on current gen versions. Through my playing I only saw one glitch, which happened when my wrestler went through the post and teleported to outside of the ring. The game is in 1080p and 60fps on both current gen consoles. The only problem you’ll have with the look of the game is the blood. I don’t know why they made the blood in the style they did, but it goes all over your wrestler’s body for some reason and not in a good way. It almost looks like there are huge cuts all over their bodies like some kind of zombie.
Commentary has improved also. It is obvious that Cole and Lawler spent hours recording more dialogue for the game as the banter between the two during the 2K showcase is awesome. In ‘Universe Mode’ you’ll hear random quips about title reigns and facts about the wrestlers. One downfall is you’ll hear those same old “classic” lines such as “…he’s putting his educated feet to good use…”, “…this is the biggest victory of his life…”, “…here’s some of the action..” a few million times.
More disappointment is found in the customization modes. Many of them are gone. There’s no “create a championship”, “create a story” and you are even unable to create a finisher. They did add storyline options to ‘WWE Universe’ mode, but it’s still disappointing you cannot make your own. ‘WWE Universe’ is pretty much the same other than the subtracted match types. “Gimmick matches” such as ‘inferno’ will not be missed, but “I Quit” and normal elimination matches will be missed. The biggest disappointment of WWE 2K15 is the ‘create a wrestler’. You are unable to create a diva and there are very few customization options for aspects such as hair, facial hair and even attire. These restrictions make it harder to create the perfect wrestler. You are unable to add age to your wrestler’s face or angle eyebrows, and there are many more limitations. Yes, you can add any logo and even your own face to your wrestler through community creations. However, not everyone can use photoshop to design something. I wish putting your face into the game was much more fan friendly. One thing I hope they add to next year’s game is an actual reason to go online and face people. There is virtually no reason to play online other than a private match with a friend. This game actually somehow made online even worse. You play ranked matches by going through some weird background matchmaking in which you have to set up who your favourite wrestlers and favourite match types are. This system makes ZERO sense to me. I would love to know what 2K was thinking when they made this.
With lack of customization, horrible career mode and an online mode that’s just as awful, it really is hard to find value in this game. Yes, the combat is the best it’s ever been in years in my opinion, but 2K Showcase doesn’t make you excited like 30 years of Wrestlemania and Attitude Era did. This year does not give you a warm feeling that you’re reliving history like previous years. Yes, you will have fun if you are a fan of the series, but the lasting value of the game is gone. I do not know what is going on with developers making all these bare bone games, but if you are a fan of the series I would wait for a price drop to purchase WWE 2K15.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of WWE 2K15. The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii and Wii U.