When unfortunate circumstances forced veteran publisher THQ to close its doors, many gamers (and wrestling fans) were left bewildered when the fate of the iconic WWE games was left hanging by a thread. Thankfully, 2K Games purchased the publishing rights to the WWE video games license and continued to work with the series’ developer Yukes.
Previous entries in the WWE franchise have seen a slump in sales, and a vast improvement was needed to see the series return to its former glory. While ‘WWE 2K14’ falls short in a few areas, it is the best WWE game in years, and offers one of the most complete WWE experiences the franchise has ever seen. As one would expect of a game based on the iconic sports-entertainment brand, WWE 2K14 allows players to step into the tights of their favourite WWE superstars in a variety of different modes and match types.
Exhibition mode allows players to compete in a variety of standalone matches, such as tag team matches, royal rumbles, ladder matches, and more.
The majority of players will be spending their time in WWE Universe mode or the new 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode. WWE Universe mode simulates the various television programs the WWE produces (as well as the numerous pay-per-view promotions). For the most part, it works well, and is an accurate simulation of the matches held on TV. It does feel a little sterile, as there is little interaction with the moments between the different matches, and no interaction behind the scenes at all.
The best part of the older WWE games was the experience of creating your wrestler, his persona, and then becoming a WWE superstar. That feeling has been lost for a long time in the WWE games, and unfortunately, it’s still missing from WWE 2K14. Even after spending hours creating your wrestler, their moveset and even fully creating a unique finisher for them, the game still doesn’t create matches for your wrestler, unless you awkwardly shoehorn in your wrestler, and create the matches yourself. Even then however, there is no progression, you have to create every single match for your wrestler. It’s still fun to take part in the show and interrupt the odd match, it’s just not as fun as it could have been. I’m hoping Yukes makes the effort to create an original storyline for the WWE games again with future WWE 2K titles, they really were a brilliant part of past games.
30 Years of Wrestlemania mode is easily the best part of WWE 2K14, not only does it offer older and younger wresting fans the chance to experience some of the greatest matches in wresting history, it delivers a documentary-like introduction to each of the matches, which is both educational and entertaining. This feels like a mode that father and son wrestling fans will enjoy together. There are also rewards and unlockable features for completing objectives based on the actual matches too. Turning the tables on the Macho Man by using a dirty pin and body slamming King Kong Bundy as Hulk Hogan will unlock those wrestlers for use in other modes. Yukes and 2K Games have done so well with the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode that it will be hard to top in next year’s WWE 2K, though I’m sure they’re already hard at work thinking of how to do just that.
As with the other WWE games, there are a variety of different creation modes, which allow players to create wrestlers, custom move sets, unique finishing moves, entrances and even logos for use on their wrestler’s various attire. There are a ton of options available, and I’m confident that every single user-created wrestler found online will be well varied from each other, as opposed to a game like Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode, where 95% of players have mohawks and tracksuits.
The Create-a-Wrestler mode established way back in the first Yukes WWE game (WWF Smackdown!) is back, and while there is a decent amount of customisation options, there is very little in ways of new content. Instea of aiming for as many modern options as available, Yukes have decided to continue using the same patterns and attires found in previous WWE Games. This is both good and bad, as I know that I’m able to make a decent wrestler out of the materials I’ve used in the past, but I still have to sift through innumerable goofy patterns and outfits, like zebra print leotards and hundreds of ridiculous “tribal” patterns. Just give me realistic-yet-unique patterns already Yukes! It should be said that players can now use any existing wrestler as a template for their own creted wrestlers, and can save up to 100 custom wrestlers in their save data. You could create your own brand within the WWE universe!
As opposed to the Create-a-Wrestler mode (which has a “greatest hits” feel to it), creating a move set is better than ever, thanks to a ton of new moves, some undeniably classic moves, and little improvements to the game’s animation. If you’ve played every WWE game fro Yukes before, you will probably think you’ve seen (and used) every clothesline, powerbomb and chokeslam available. Yukes have gone out of their way to deliver more unique animations for these often-used wrestling moves than in previous WWE games, meaning that even if your character has the same move as many other wrestlers, they will have their own unique version of that move.
Gameplay-wise, everything about the WWE franchise has been rebuilt or refined, making for the best gameplay in the series. The action feels much quicker, and while the reversal system now requires a carefully-timed press of just a single button, it feels much more realistic and rewarding than before. The animation system has also been injected with subtle new animations, meaning that wrestlers will adjust their tights, elbow pads, wipe sweat from their brow, or even signal to their opponent to get up from the mat and fight.
In previous WWE games, you had to remember each of your assigned moves, and sometimes, you would forget where you put that handy submission move that can turn the tide of a difficult match. WWE 2K14 has a simple idea to keep you in control of the fight, as submission moves now only require you to hold down the grapple button instead of pressing it. It’s a simple idea, but one that makes for a much better experience.
The “OMG moments” (a goofy-sounding but accurate name) established in WWE 13 are also back, and better than ever. These moments recreate the chaos and exhilaration of the WWE’s crazier moments, such as a face managing to dodge attacks from multiple opponents and land a finisher on each opponent, or performing a diving spear through the ring ropes. Combined with the new animations, these features make WWE 2K14 the best recreation of professional wrestling yet.
- Huge amount of content
- Tons of customisation options
- Online multiplayer is now much more balanced
- No original story to play through
WWE 2K14 is a terrific start for 2K Games. The overhauled gameplay makes for the most fun and realistic depiction of a WWE game yet, I just wish that Yukes would write an original story to play through again. Wrestling fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of WWE 2K14, as the chance to play through the current roster of wrestling superstars as well as the best matches from 30 years of wrestlemania is too good to pass up.
Score – 8/10