No! No! No!
THQ is gone. As a part of their dissolution, they sold away their IPs that they have cultivated over many years in the gaming industry. One of the most consistently successful properties that THQ worked with was their line of games based on WWE, notably the SmackDown! series which evolved into SmackDown vs. Raw which evolved into simply being known as “WWE”. Now the folks at 2K Sports have taken control of the property, branding it WWE 2K14 in the process, and the end result is a disappointing product.
WWE 2K14 is way too similar to last year’s product to be truly appreciated as something new or different. Ever since 2009, it’s basically been the same game year in and year out. Releasing yet another WWE title on current-generation systems was a bad idea as there is clearly no more ideas left in the tank, or not enough to justify releasing a brand new game in the series.
The gimmick this time around focuses on WrestleMania. The Attitude Era mode from last year returns as 30 Years of WrestleMania, this time starting at the first WrestleMania and then going through the major matches of all of them. Of course, there are some very glaring exclusions, such as the lack of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as a playable character (and the main event of the first WrestleMania being ignored), as well as exclusions that WWE couldn’t help, such as matches involving Chris Benoit or Kurt Angle…though the latter is a bit of a question considering Hulk Hogan is in the game and both Hogan and Angle were with TNA at the time this game was made.
Simply put, this mode is boring. It forces players to recreate events that happened in real life as “objectives” to unlock the extra content in the game. For diehard wrestling fans, reliving the past constantly is something they do already. WWE shoves nostalgia down our throats on a daily basis, and as a result, the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode is completely lacking. It is not engaging and ultimately uninteresting, not to mention incredibly frustrating at points.
Frustrations come from the fact that in order to complete some of these historical objectives, players actually have to let their opponent start winning or land a specific move. Cut-scenes interrupt matches, and sometimes in an attempt to trigger these scenes, the AI becomes invincible until they are able to do the move to you that will trigger the cut-scene. Imagine my annoyance when Brock Lesnar countered every move I did for about 10 minutes straight until I realized I was supposed to let him attack me. What this is doing is essentially punishing players for being good at the game.
The other game modes are all fine and the stuff that you’ve come to expect from the series. That being said, the lack of a real career mode still or a GM mode is very disappointing. Universe is fine, but those other game modes are sorely missed.
I feel as though the counter system has been slightly improved and it does feel fairer. The controls in general have been streamlined even further and are far easier than before. Past WWE titles buried some of the more complicated maneuvers and abilities underneath a mountain of button combinations, but 2K14 simplifies it all, and that is for the better, believe me.
One cool new addition this year is the ability to perform Finishers in mid-air as well as catch flying superstars and then perform the Finisher. This adds a level of unpredictability to the matches that wasn’t there before and it is a feature that is greatly appreciated.
I don’t know how they did it, but 2K14 actually regresses in graphics. Usually these annual release titles look better and better everywhere, but the ball has been severely dropped in regards to 2K14. A lot of wrestlers don’t look anything like their real life counterparts, and there are a few minor details that are likely to drive hardcore wrestling fans nuts. The game is also already outdated, lacking major new additions to the roster such as Big E Langston, which is a shame considering Langston has been with the WWE for months and months prior to the launch of the game.
However, WWE 2K14 has the least amount of glitches that I’ve seen in any WWE game to date. I am used to insane glitching and horrific graphical issues, but WWE 2K14 does away with them almost completely. I did see The Rock’s body envelope a steel chair and watched his horribly misshapen body slide around the outside of the ring like a giant blob, but that actually improved my experience I’d say.
There’s something else that bothers me about WWE 2K14 and that is about the commentary. I noticed that there were at least SOME new lines recorded for commentary, but the commentary is still really bad. Other sports titles like the MLB: The Show games have completely revolutionized in-game commentary, but WWE 2K14 continues to lag behind in that department. Not only that, but commentators spit out completely incorrect information all the time, which can be irritating.
WWE 2K14 continues the trend of using the entrance music of superstars and divas to play over the loading screens and menus instead of licensed tracks like in the old days. This annoyed the hell out of me last year, but 2K14 is able to make it something that is a lot easier to stomach because the older songs that are used are just packed with nostalgia. The older songs are generally a lot better than the newer songs as well, so that is a definite plus.
I am the kind of gamer that looks to achievements to add replayability to a game. Unfortunately, the last few WWE games have pretty much just copy and pasted achievements from game to game. In addition, most of them involve Universe Mode, which is something that is just hard to invest in anymore when there has been so little innovation in that mode. WWE 2K14 still provides multiplayer that is a lot of fun, but it also has to deal with one of the worst WWE rosters in years.
People obsessed with WWE will probably at least have a little fun with WWE 2K14. Unfortunately, a little does not go along way here. This is basically the same game that we’ve been playing for years, except the innovations and jumps forward have started becoming less and less. Old fan favorite game modes are still missing in action, and the painfully linear 30 Years of WrestleMania is a waste of disc space. Overall, WWE 2K14 is functional and those that haven’t played much of the previous games will likely have a blast, but there’s no need for anyone else to step inside the squared circle this year.
Tested on Xbox 360. Final Score: 6.25/10