WWE 2K15 Review (PS4)
WWE 2K15’s debut on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is kind of like when Chris Master’s debuted on RAW years ago.
It certainly looks the part. It can be entertaining at times in the ring. But give it long enough, and you see that all you really have is a midcarder being given a major push that it doesn’t yet deserve.
While WWE 2K15 is a perfectly fine game, it's going to take another year or two to become a main event star.
What WWE 2K15 does best and does right is that it looks pretty good. The graphics are pretty, despite a few player models which don’t look great (they likely weren’t scanned either). The superstar entrances look quite good as well, although the same entrance without any variation means they also become extremely skippable after a few of them — thankfully that option is included in the pre-match menu.
WWE 2K15 made the jump to ‘next-gen’ beautifully on the graphics side — its unfortunate that much of the rest of the presentation package is so bad. Commentary in particular is an egregious offender. While 2K claims there are five times more recorded lines than any other year, that number still results in the worst commentary to ever grace a AAA sports game in this generation of consoles. The holy trinity of commentary sins is present in a big way: repeated lines, completely wrong lines, and periods of complete dead space where commentators say nothing at all.
In the ring, WWE 2K15 isn’t a revolutionary title, as I noted in my previous gameplay article. What you get is a continued improvement inside of the ring, with different and oftentimes better gameplay mechanics replacing old ones.
The chain wrestling mechanic in particular is quite good. I like the rock paper scissors feel to it and the strategy that goes into making it happen. I do think you should have the option to keep chain wrestling longer, but the chain wrestling gives matches a better flow as is. The beginning, middle, and ending of matches all feel different, which is a good thing.
The new animations that go along with the new chain wrestling and the other assorted moves oftentimes look great as well. This is clearly the smoothest wrestling title in the ring in some time — but it’s still far from perfect. You’ll still end up in situations where moves are performed where they shouldn’t be and guys are getting supplied into ropes or bodies are warping unnaturally.
Strike attacks in the game can now interrupt animations, and the results are mixed. Sometimes, the interrupted animations look great — others, not so much.
The new stamina mechanic is a huge new addition to gameplay, and largely captures the three distinct phases of a WWE match. When both guys are gassed in the ring at the end of a long match, moves take longer but will deliver heavier blows. If you have two guys who can use the kick out mechanic well — this is going to create some amazing climactic brawls.
Momentum, health, and stamina are all reflected in the new HUD, something you won’t understand for the first several matches. This is a mechanic that is indeed confusing, but it becomes second nature after awhile in realizing where your three levels are at.
The little touches like superstars using the ropes when they are fatigued, the more in proportion ring size vs. superstar size, and the increased feeling of weight in the game are all welcome touches that all add up to a better gameplay experience.
WWE 2K15 offers a small set of modes to play that are all adequate, but none are truly great.
The best mode in the game, in my opinion, is the 2K Showcase which features two distinct rivalries available for free at launch. Both the HBK/HHH and CM Punk/John Cena rivalries are very well done in terms of the video packages put together and the experience of replaying historical moments in time in WWE History.
Throughout the mode, you will be charged with completing tasks as basic as winning the matches to unlock the next level to completing objectives to unlock new Superstars, Titles, and alternate attire. The gameplay and progression is straightforward, and I suspect much of the new commentary in the game actually was put into this mode, but it’s a fun mode to play through and enjoy some best-of moments in WWE History.
MyCareer is a mixed bag. The mode itself is fairly straightforward, with you progressing from match to match with cutscenes before and after defining your character and what you are about. There’s not much dynamism here, as that aspect of the mode even trails NBA 2K. Working your way up through NXT to the main roster is a cool approach, but your objectives sometimes don’t even seem to matter as you are pushed along your career.
Early on in the mode, I once was charged with putting on a good match by William Regal, and I not only lost but the match rating was terrible and I still got the No. 1 contendership. This was entirely confusing to me, and I’m not sure if it was a bug or just how the mode is intended to work. This type of wonkiness can be found at several points in the mode.
Similarly, WWE Universe is a bare bones mode that allows you to, in essence, run the WWE brand as a booker while also playing any and all matches you want as the game moves through time. You will see storylines start (either automatically or, if you want, by your own choosing), rivalries and alliances form, and you can even change the TV lineup and show length between three, five, and seven matches.
WWE Universe is a merely adequate solution with some pretty glaring issues that need to be resolved. This is a mode that should completely appeal to the WWE 2K fan base — but as is it just doesn’t offer much outside of the matches and your staged rivalries. A mode that advertises itself as a universe mode should probably include more than a small portion of what actually goes on in the universe.
The creation suite was a frustratingly laggy experience to me. Adding items to superstars resulted in delays of sometimes 5 to 10 seconds, which made the process seem clunky and slow. The options also seem limited on the new consoles, although I haven’t fully verified that is the case. Regardless, the options available are diverse enough to create a lot of great looking superstars, but the clunkiness of the whole thing makes it feel like more of a chore than a creative pursuit.
If you want to check out more fleshed out thoughts on the modes, I previously wrote articles on both WWE Universe and MyCareer.
WWE 2K15 isn’t a bad game at all. The in-ring gameplay is enough to satisfy wrestling gaming fans for a year. The control scheme is accessible enough for anyone to pick up and play the game, and the in-ring action flows well enough and is more realistic than it has ever been in depicting a WWE broadcast.
However, there is a distinct lack of polish on this year’s game. The commentary is still atrocious, jacked up animations will sometimes occur, and the modes themselves are merely adequate moreso than fully fleshed out ideas.
What is here will be an outstanding foundation to build off of, and while WWE 2K isn’t ready for a main event push just yet, I have a distinct feeling it’ll be an entertaining midcarder for some for the next year when it may finally be ready for a push at the main event spotlight.
Score: 6.5 (Above Average)