A wrestling game with the letters WWE attached has always been considered money in the bank.
I see myself as a bit of a redneck. Actually, I suppose I’m a redneck-lite. Which means, by default, I have to love professional wrestling. While I can’t remember the exact moment I first started watching, all I can remember is that it’s always been a part of my life. The current WWE product is a bit difficult for me to follow these days as virtually every single wrestler I’ve ever loved has either been fired, injured or retired, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still bask in the glory days from my youth when much of the world still believed this bull shit was real.
And what better way to relive those times than in a hella-good wrestling simulator like WWE 2K15?!
OK, I’ll be honest, I didn’t play last year’s version of WWE. This marks the first year I skipped my annual tradition, as well as the changing of the guard from THQ to 2K Sports. While I have no firsthand knowledge to this fact just yet, I can only imagine that a game based on proving the most realistic sporting (or sports-entertainment) experience possible couldn’t be in better hands than with 2K. They are well known for recreating sports like basketball to such a lifelike degree it’s hard to tell where the hardwood ends and your living room begins. Looking back, I did love my time spent with THQ. The new WWE 2K series is a continuation of the Smackdown line that has been around for almost two decades (with its roots reaching all the way back to the N64 and first-generation PlayStation). My addiction with the series started around the early-2000s after receiving Shut Your Mouth (yes that’s the actual title) for a birthday gift. It was almost like opening a life sized can of whoop-ass right in my face. I can truly say I’ve loved each and every match played since then.
Now, 2K Sports and WWE have revealed that John Cena is their featured star of this year’s cover shoot (a first for the series). With Cena himself touting a few personal touches the Doctor of Thugonomics plans to bring to the game, I thought I’d’ take a quick look back at just some of the best features this long time fan hopes 2K focuses on in the future.
And that’s the bottom line…’cause well…you know.
The Smackdown series has always been heavy in features that allow gamers to explore their inner Hulkamaniac. Unfortunately, the campaign modes have been a little hit or miss over the years. I do give them credit for having the courage to try new things from year to year, as introducing new modes (like reliving past WrestleMania moments for example) have been a welcomed addition. However, I feel the game shines the most when an interactive, non-linear story mode is present. Instead of just rehashing old pay-per-view moments from the previous year, bring back the expansive pool of branching story-lines that change depending on each alliance your created character forges or title they win. Allowing multiple play-throughs without repeating the same events twice is where the replay value will come in.
This is where the big boys play (reference for all you WCW fans)
I know there are some wrestling fans out there that are huge marks for the likes of John Cena, Daniel Bryan and others, but I’m still old school at heart. That means the moment the roster for the upcoming game is announced each year, I scroll directly to the Legends section. For me, this is where much of the fun originates. Getting to once again play with my favorites (reminiscent of the days I used to drop elbows onto my wrestling buddy) is what makes this a yearly purchase. Although, I do think they could take a cue from the classic Legends of Wrestling. Instead of using up multiple spots for different character versions (like nWo Hogan vs. Real American Hogan) why not just let us swap the costumes out on the same base model like a costume skin? It would free up more space for different wrestlers and other content!
It’s like lookin’ in a mirror!
I can state unequivocally that the lion’s share of my time devoted to any wrestling game is spent not in the ring, but in the create modes. I’ve lost so many sleepless nights to tweaking my created character’s attire, facial features and move sets, that I practically qualify as a game programmer at this point. While I feel Smackdown historically has the best create modes of ANY game franchise to date, it’s become a bit stagnate in recent years. Let’s hope 2K continues pushing the envelope to the same levels of realism currently seen in EA’s UFC; because that game is starting to get creepily lifelike.
While I’ve only begun to scratch the surface regarding the many aspects which make this wrestling franchise great, there is one innovation that I’m confident I’ll never see. Fans are already forced to repurchase what amounts to the same experience each year, with only minor changes to speak of between releases. Instead, I’d prefer they released the engine (let’s call it WWE Core), to be followed by several roster and arena expansions periodically.
While that may sound pretty microtransactiony, it could open up the game to a more MMO feel (working better than some might think). I say give it a chance.