On Thursday evening I was invited to a launch/preview evening of the WWE 2K14 game. Having not played a wrestling game in the better part of four years, I invited one of my co-podcasters along, Colin Judkins, who plays the games a lot more than I do (and even designs some arenas for it – nerd!). Colin's comments will underscore this review and provide some context where I cannot. For the sake of context, also, we both only spent the evening playing against other people in exhibition matches, so cannot comment directly on AI/game mode changes.
My first reaction was to be, not surprisingly, blown away by the graphics of the game. The roster this year is incredibly deep with old talent, owing to the 30 Years of Wrestlemania modes. And those wrestlers are expertly detailed with retro and modern day (ish) versions of the likes of Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and more. Also, as Colin will touch on now, some of the small details really add a nice depth to it all:
My early matches with the game were fun, if a bit daunting, as I tried to work out the very basics of playing the game. Disappointingly, picking Brock Lesnar with the intention of striking my way out of there wasn't as profitable as I had hoped! But once I had got to grips with this it was an immensely fun game to play. This actually feels a more “intelligent” than wrestling games I used to play, in the sense that you need to be much more thoughtful in your offense, as you might lose control in the game very quickly. I was about to moan about the ease/frequency that you seemed to be able to counter moves, but Colin provides some context. I still think it got a bit excessive at times, though:
But even small little glitches and errors can make the game incredibly enjoyable. In a tune-up match before the tournament we had, both myself and my opponent selected managers (Paul Heyman and Mr Fuji). There was a great moment when both managers got into the ring, walked to opposite corners and simultaneously removed the turnbuckle covers. There was also a moment where Heyman appeared to RKO Fuji on the outside – but don't quote me on that one! One surprising good move by Fuji was when he climbed up on the apron to distract the referee when I was out for the count with Yokozuna – still took me six attempts to kick out, mind!
The match experiences themselves were excellent, though. I'm not sure what (if any) of these are newer features, or ones I've just not played with before. But things like the move sequences were really nice – Cena walking through his “five moves of doom” with a camera angle to match is a really nice touch. The kickout system is probably the best I've seen on any wrestling game I've played – when you nail the small target after being hit with a finisher you pop as you would with a major kickout – and that's really cool.
And that really was my main takeaway from the game. Maybe I haven't or won't play games enough to the degree that I can get bogged down in the minor details that take away from the game, but playing it made me feel like a kid again, and I can't remember a wrestling game that is capable of replicating the emotions of big game matches like WWE 2K14 did. Even in a tournament match on a WWE video game, Colin (as Cena) had a four minute epic with CM Punk (not even in video games is it possible for those two to have a bad match!). There was also an epic ladder match between myself (as Damien Sandow) against Antonio Cesaro – but I'll let that one live on in the memory of the three of us who witnessed it!
It's not to say I didn't find the odd flaws with it. The physics system still seems a bit out of whack, with heavy wrestlers still getting thrown around far too easily. I still thought the reversal system was a bit too heavy – but it felt good. On the whole I would highly recommend purchasing this game if you're at all interested in wrestling games. Not sure it would be right for me to speak of regular gamers, but I think if you've been away from the franchise for a while, this is definitely a game you might want to come back and take a look at.
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