They say no pain no gain but the combat system is sadly a crying shame.
WE 2K15 looks visually appealing on the outside and being a game that walks the cross-generation tight rope, and the question of whether or not this would be a significant graphical leap over it’s last-generation counterpart as well as being one that’s actually evolved through the means of it’s gameplay and attention to realism, is one that will without a doubt have fans of the series scratching their heads over.
While the game is clearly a step up and minor improvements have been made, the underlying problem that exists within it’s gameplay mechanics may not prove in being enough should it attempt to maintain the attention of it’s fans. Gameplay places a large focus on the wrestler’s momentum and stamina limits in reference to how fast and how strong they’re able to attack. And while this strategic yet semi-realistic element seems like a good idea at first, the end result is a large majority of the gameplay feeling slow and sluggish with characters moving and reacting as if they’re carrying to much weight, regardless of their which weight-class they’re participating within.
Nothing feels fast, flashy, or frantic, nor does it do well in delivering a sense of immersion or believability. It’s easy to say the game has taken a step backwards in terms of it’s methods in character control and gameplay mechanics, but that would also be too generous. WWE 2K15 plays like an under-developed version of EA Sports UFC.
Everything that resides within the character’s movements and attacks as well as the damage they receive from their opponents, feels like you’re watching a slow acting rehearsal that has you anticipating your opponents next move, which will undoubtedly play out in the same manner as it did before.
"WWE 2K15 plays like an under-developed version of EA Sports UFC. "
For instance, grappling your opponent results in a game of rock, paper, scissors, where certain button presses can cancel out your opponents attack. This forms part of a combination involving the rotation of the game-pad’s analog sticks in order to find the weak spot for which your character can counter or escape their clinch.
While these features are welcomed and the potential to see where it could have succeeded are obvious at that, sadly it takes away some of the excitement of the combat as you’re left playing a game of strategic waiting rather than engaging in some actual action. These issues also affect the way the characters throw quick melee attacks which by their very own nature should appear light and quick, rather than visually exhausting.
Those such as drop kicks, slaps, and running towards your opponents in an attempt to perform a clothesline never feel accurate, as the game’s slow-paced movements and it’s reliance on strategic attack methods outweigh a sense of speed and excitement. Amongst the frustration that comes from this strange form of strategy and slow-paced countering, the game also feels like it’s disregarding the player’s inputs and deliberately exploits the player’s actions, which can often have some matches feeling broken and unfair, as well as ending too quickly.
There’s just no getting around how slow and heavy each one of these superstars appear to play, and it directly affects the player’s sense of freedom in regards to how much and how fast they can move around the ring. It’s feels like you’re watching a pair of semi-trailers attempting to drag race down a one-lane bridge. And it can be exhausting to watch as it is to actually play.
" It's feels like you're watching a pair of semi-trailers attempting to drag race down a one-lane bridge. And it can be exhausting to watch as it is to actually play."
Custom character progression on the other hand does prove to be of something worthwhile enjoyability, as the player makes their way up the ranks through the game’s career mode section. Starting of as a rookie wrestler trying to prove his worth in landing a contract deal, the early stages of the career mode plays out as a brief tutorial section so that the player may become familiar with how the gameplay works.
Calling these stages of the game a tutorial is being quite generous, as the game makes no attempt whatsoever in demonstrating or delivering any form of visuals cues as to how the player is actually meant to play. Before each tutorial the player is given a set of objectives that will later be applied when engaging in professional matches.
The problem that lies within these painfully aggravating sessions however, is that the player is given no on-screen commands or button mappings and is left to strike and grapple in a last-man’s attempt to get through the tutorial. While some of these explanations are explored in other game modes outside of the career through the use pop-up windows and loading screens. It’s almost as if the developers forgot to add this in. And for what is essentially the most important place in the game where they’ll actually be of most use, the game appears as rushed and underdeveloped.
Upon making your way in to the career mode the player is required to create their own wrestler using the a set of tools provided by the game. While character creation often brings to mind immersion, attention, and identity not to mention embracing yourself in what the game has to offer by making a name for yourself within it’s world. Character customization works in a very slow and exhausting manner that has almost every little change and increment that’s made to the character’s appearance run through lengthy loading screens rather than on-the-fly changes.
"Custom character progression on the other hand does prove to be of something worthwhile enjoyability, as the player makes their way up the ranks through the game's career mode section."
This takes away the excitement of what the game has to offer as it is fairly diverse in what it offers up for character appearances. The one thing I did find very peculiar however was the absence for a female character choice. Especially since it places a female wrestler as a banner for the game’s clothing option menus.
Irony?, insulting?, to difficult to animate? Who knows. But with the lack of diversity aside as well as the obsession with loading screens, the customization options work well in providing just enough choice for the player to mess around with.
Earning two different sets of progression points one being SP and the other being VC, both of which are awarded for completing different objectives and meeting certain criteria in matches. The player is able to change their character’s clothing, wrestling gear, buy special moves, and level up the character’s skills and attributes.
Character attributes do well in being precise and detailed, although be it an unfortunate one as it’s tied directly in to it’s slow and clunky gameplay. Stamina, leg power, defence, strike speed, body durability and so on, can all be raised in accordance to the player’s earnings as well. The more you wrestle the more you get paid.
Taking this a step further one of which that also aids in delivering a sense of immersion in regards to the character’s wrestling career. VC can also be used to hire different managers to represent them in a match, each equipped with their own perks for manipulating certain situations that may arise during gameplay. This currency can also be spent on training sessions with more advanced wrestlers, so that the player’s character can adopt elements from their skill sets and tune it to their own.
" Character attributes do well in being precise and detailed, although be it an unfortunate one as it's tied directly in to it's slow and clunky gameplay."
It’s a nice touch and aside from the severely lacking sense of believability that takes place when ever each of these superstars engage in dialogue, upgrading the skills, abilities, and attributes that my character had to work ever so painfully slow for did prove satisfying at times.
But given the option for a more simple combat system and one that moved at a much faster pace, I would’ve been happy to spend more time in this mode and see just how far I could push my character’s potential.
Outside of the game’s career mode the game provides players with a variety of matches and tournaments to take part in where they’re free to choose from the game’s roster of characters. Proving to be more fun than the career mode itself due to the amount of choice available right at the player’s disposal, players will no doubt spend the majority of their time here especially when taking in to account the game’s social aspects.
With the options for a standard one on one, a 6-man standoff, triple threats, royal rumbles, and so on. Each with their own variation of rules, regulations, criteria, and match types, wrestling fans will no doubt find themselves at home with what the game has to offer. As for the character roster that players are left to choose from when actually going in to battle, I can’t help but feel the game lacked in this department as the selection at hand feels slightly neutered down in comparison to past games.
On to the visual qualities of the game the Xbox One version of WWE 2K15 operates at a 1920 by 1080p resolution, and runs at sixty frames per second. As stiff as they are animations look smooth and character models are descent to say the least. While there’s nothing magnificent here in terms of texture quality, shadows, lighting, and level of detail within the game’s level design it does looks acceptable.
"Outside of the game's career mode the game provides players with a variety of matches and tournaments to take part in where they're free to choose from the game's roster of characters. "
NPC crowds are large enough to fill the stands and carry a fair amount of diversity to them within their appearances, and flashing spot lights and ringside decoration are detailed enough to compliment the game. Odd graphical glitches such as floating objects and characters facing collision problems did arise, but none of these where game breaking or common enough to distract me from the gameplay.
The game also licenses music from popular mainstream artists from a variety of genres, and it does an exceptional job in raising the player’s excitement before heading in to a match. The soundtrack plays throughout all of the game’s menus and provides enough choice before becoming repetitive.
WWE 2K15 has it’s fair share of downfalls primarily in regards to how the game plays which feels stiff, slow, and weighted in regards to character movement. And the lack of variety that resides within it’s character selection screen is something I can see fans of the series won’t be pleased with. The choice for gameplay modes that the game does offer however, should be enough in keeping players entertained for a good amount of time.
Combined with the online-playability which is no more than an extension of what players can engage in when playing the game solo, and I’m sure the game will pick up a small fan-base. Needless to say this isn’t a good starting point for beginners and newcomers would be better off playing one of the past tiles while skipping this entirely.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
Interesting game modes outside of the game's career mode is where the game holds enjoyability.
A slow and tedious combat system holds the game back in appealing to a new audience.
Being nothing more than a game built around fan-service WWE 2K15 is going win any awards in terms of visuals or gameplay mechanics, But this isn't to say the game doesn't have some enjoyable moments, it's just sadly let down by a slow and underdeveloped control scheme that's proves to be more hassle than it's actually worth.