Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls; Children of all ages; Tonight. Wait a minute. That’s exactly how I started the review for WWE ’13. This year we have a new mode, a new publisher and a new direction; but what exactly is that direction?
Well that opening sentence won’t be the last feeling of Déjà vu you get when playing WWE 2K14.
The main event of this years iteration of muscular men (and women) in spandex is the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode. The easiest way to sum this mode up is to imagine a cross between the play-style of last years Attitude Era mode and the nostalgia trip of 2009’s Legends of Wrestlemania.
Put simply, it’s the obvious and natural progression for a mode that last year featured a single era, to one that highlights all of them by focussing on 45 matches from the storied history of the WWE’s annual showpiece – Wrestlemania.
From where it all started at WrestleMania I, moving quickly to the Hulkamania and Ultimate era, before highlighting the transition from Rock n’Roll wrestling to Sports Entertainment with the New Generation fronted by Bret ‘Hitman’Hart and ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels. A quick revisit to the attitude era is next – including, sadly, some of the same matches – before featuring the Ruthless Aggression era of Chris Jericho, Stephanie McMahon and the N.W.O; finally finishing on the current Universe Era.
Also embedded in this mode is “The Streak” in recognition of The Undertakers unworldly like feat of being undefeated at Wrestlemania in 22 straight appearances. You can choose to either defeat or defend the streak. Select the Defeat option and you are met with an Undertaker with a difficulty level set beyond Legendary, who is able to reverse pretty much everything you throw at him and an almost demonic like aggression. If you have looked for a boss fight in WWE games, this is pretty much everything you could have hoped for. The same cannot, unfortunately, be said for Defend as it is nothing more than rehash of the Slobberknocker mode from years past as you control The Undertaker aiming to defeat as many opponents as possible. A much better format would have been if it challenged you to recreate the 22 matches in the streak.
If you are a fan of the WWE you will appreciate the authenticity of each match, including grainy filters to make you feel like the match really is taking place on a TV from that time period. As per last year, the mode challenges you to complete certain re-enactments of the match. Yes, you can proceed by winning the match and carrying on but this won’t unlock the multitude of unlockable characters, retro outfits, titles and arenas which can then be used in the WWE Universe mode.
The WWE Universe mode is the first place that 2K really needs to ensure is stripped down and rebuilt with a fresh perspective. This mode is outdated and offers absolulty nothing new from past years. The rivalry option allows you to force characters to face each other week in, week out with varying stipulations, which is a nice tweak but it does little for the Universe experience as a whole.
Creating a character and taking him along the path of a superstar in Universe mode has always been a fun one, but this now also highlights both the flaws of the mode and the laziness of Yuke’s Interactive in continuing to grow the mode. One option would be to extend the mode into NXT (WWE’s talent development show), starting as a rookie and being mentored by a WWE superstar learning moves and skills – just like on the show; before progressing onto the main shows and PPV’s. It would give more of a story feel to a mode that needs some sort of jumpstart.
Another aspect that hasn’t changed is the “Create-A” mode, and in all honesty it didn’t really need to. I can’t imagine, with the exception of hair textures and movement, these modes being any better on current gen machines. With a few tweaks and the horsepower of next gen 2K sports will easily maintain the WWE franchises history of having one of the best creation suites in gaming.
2K has either played it safe for their initial foray into the WWE franchise, or they have had very little time to place their own personal stamp into the title when they purchased the franchise. First glances say that there is a strong foundation for forthcoming titles but now that the they have showcased the “best the WWE has to offer on the grandest stage of them all” and with a Universe mode that needs a major reinvention; I await WWE 2K15 with baited breath.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 Release Date: 01/11/2013
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of WWE 2K14 for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days on a Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.