Review Context: I always believed that video games and pro wrestling go together like a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I started watching the WWF in the late 80s/early 90s then stopped watching till the infamous Monday Night Wars and was shocked to see how much had changed with the Attitude Era of WWF. I stayed glued to my TV from 1998-2006. Thanks to former star CM Punk, with his pipebomb promo about how WWE had changed for the worse had got me back in the game in 2011.
Speaking of games, I’ve played my fair share of pro wrestling games. From Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game to fan favorites WCW/NWO: Revenge and WWF No Mercy among others. When I thought the WWE product started to get stale, I stop playing wrestling games (SmackDown vs Raw 2007). It wasn’t till WWE All Stars and WWE ’13 that brought me back, mainly for the Attitude Era mode.
Date of Playthrough: June 20, 2014
Publisher: 2K Sports
After the success of WWE ’13 by bringing players back to a time where Monday nights felt special with the Attitude Era mode fans were wondering what would be in store for next year. As WrestleMania was coming in on its 30th anniversary most fans weren’t surprised that WWE 2K14 would have us relive those WrestleMania moments good and bad. With 2K Games being the new publisher after THQ bellied up many had hopes that 2K Games would step up the product. Will you smell what this game is cookin’, or would you give this game two words?
Even with the Xbox 360/PS3 showing its age, it’s nice that WWE 2K14 still shows that it can make some impressive visuals for the most part. While current wrestlers John Cena, Cesaro, Kofi Kingston look great and the animation is smooth, some retro wrestlers like Yokozuna don’t look as well. This is sadly a running theme for the series. Heck, Booker T looked great in TNA Impact, but on WWE ’13 he looked awful! The animation for the game is well done from the entrances to the moves, but if you’ve played WWE ’13 you’ll notice the moves are the same. Guess Yukes wanted to save time by recycling animation from the previous game to speed up production.
Not all is bad, as most of the work was done in the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode where certain moments in matches are redone while using audio from the match itself. The best moment of this is WrestleMania 24 when you have to perform a Sweet Chin Music to Ric Flair and they did a good job showing Shawn Michaels not wanting to do it and is crying while Flair is telling him to do it.
With the default option of removing the game HUD (Head Up Display), helps the game feel like you’re watching a WWE event from the crowd noise, to the presentation of the match with the graphics from certain events, with the hashtag promos for Twitter.
For past games it seemed Yukes moved away from the fast paced arcade control scheme to more sim-like, and the controls haven’t change except for a few moments. The biggest change comes to body hits, where after you grapple the opponent you can target certain body parts that would be the game changer to the match as it continues. To add insult, you can also steal your opponent’s finisher. Most moves are done with either strong grapple or weak grapple then you can execute a grapple move or combine it with a strike attack. Matches that allow weapons can get frustrating when grabbing a weapon under the ring since you have to be at the dead center of the apron to retrieve a weapon, and doing that in the heat of the match will make you madder than Bret Hart in Montreal. If you do not watch WWE television then you will have to look at the in game options to see what position you have to be to perform a signature and finisher. The only moment you have to button mash is when you’re in a submission hold to prevent controllers from wearing out. Other moments such as pins and pushing opponents out of the ring consist of either QTE (Quick Time Events) or a meter where you press or hold the button at the right moment. A reversal for both strikes and grapples is the Right Trigger. You can turn on the option of when to reverse, but once you read the moves enough you’ll be reversing moves in no time which is needed in Road to WrestleMania mode and The Streak.
What makes WWE games stand out today is the endless mode available for the game. From singles, tag teams, and handicapped matches. You can mix matches like single cage match, single last man standing match, etc… While multiple matches are still present, due to the WWE being more family friendly (somewhat) you won’t see any more Bra and Panties matches. You’re also disqualified if you hit a female wrestler (even in a mixed tag team match), and the blood option default is off so you have to turn it on.
The biggest feature for the games is now the story mode. While WWE ’13 has you reliving the days of the Attitude Era, WWE 2K14, you will be reliving the past 29 years of WrestleMania. You are given a video highlight of the match (get use to those blurred WWF logos) and the events leading up to the match. On the loading screen you are given a text version of the match. Before the match begins you are given objectives to perform to unlock content in the game which consists of photo galleries, legend wrestlers, and arenas. These objectives add that authenticity since you will be playing out the match as it happens. As stated with the visuals, Yukes did a great job of reanimating the events that happen during and after the match. You’ll be reliving matches from Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant, to not so great matches like Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg. Sadly, because of “him”(Chris Benoit) the main event match of WrestleMania 20 is skipped.
Another feature in the game is the Streak. This mode has you beating the Undertaker’s 20-0 streak at WrestleMania 30. (Ha! Ha! Streak) Or you can defend the streak and upload your time or score to the online leaderboards. If you conquer the streak with the opponents Undertaker defeated you can unlock a photo gallery of that match. (Hint: if you want to beat the Undertaker, learn that counter system!)
If you think you can do a better job of managing WWE, Universe mode returns where you can book matches, change titles all to your heart’s content. The roster for the game is up to par with current wrestlers and more to be added later via DLC. Though it bothers me how The Usos were in WWE ’13 (via DLC) but are absent in WWE2K14.
While the crowd noise while the wrestlers enter the ring are great, the in-game match is another story. The crowd noise dies down with some chants and pops up once you perform a finisher. The sounds of the ring bounce as you make impact works too. The elephant in the room is the play-by-play done by Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. Another example of copy and paste, as most of the lines are repeats from WWE ’13. If you haven’t played the game you are bound to hear the repeated lines anyway. I will give them credit for calling out the wrestling moves which is something I guess is taboo on WWE television. There are a few moments that you get new material like when CM Punk faces Daniel Bryan Michael Cole mentions how they worked together in the indie scene, but the way the lines are delivered you can tell they are reading off a script. During the 30 Years of WrestleMania, the matches are called by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. The delivery of the commentary is more lively somewhat, but I’m sure the announcers got tired retelling the same event. During the WrestleMania moments, there are moments when they used audio from the actual match to hear what the wrestlers are saying. Why couldn’t Yukes retain the audio from the commentary as well to have more impact instead of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler trying to relive that moment?
Similar Games Disliked:
WWE Raw (Xbox)
WCW Nitro (Playstation)