WWE 2K15 is the 2nd official instalment under 2K team, along with partnership between Visual Concepts and Yuke’s, on the longest-running grappler video games franchise published by then THQ since the ‘90s. While the local gaming community starts to embrace the PS4 (released late 2013) and Xbox One (released Sep 2014) released in Singapore, the team recognises the fanbase who may still be gaming on the PS3 and Xbox360.
Consequently, while the developers strive to raise the bar on the franchise, the hardware limitations from the last-generation consoles prove to be challenging. The game is built from ground up for PS4 and Xbox360, therefore some features may be impossible to downscale to last-generation due to outdated hardware. This results in leaner game modes.
I was immediately impressed at the improved texture and sheen in their outfits, and those who wear belts around the waist now look more realistic. So far, I’ve not seen the giant grapplers doing the same thing, as it would look silly. This is a great step forward.
Unfortunately, the extent of realism cannot be stretched too far. While there is much improvement in fabric and attire, wrestler models and interaction with items, esteemed fans will spot glitches in collision detection, improper animation, low-resolution crowds and weird facial expressions. It also seems the outdated hardware is incapable of recreating decent hair physics.
The 2K Showcase revisits two epic encounters – John Cena and CM (oh how we miss him) Punk’s rivalry from 2011 to 2013, and a decade-old feud between Triple HHH and Shawn Michael from 2002-2004. Grateful as I am, I would prefer something more recent, like Brock Lesnar’s pathway to destruction culminating to his win over Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30 this year, or perhaps John Cena’s epic team up with Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels in 2005 (since there is a WWE 2K15 Hulkamania Edition). No doubt, they may be highlighted in future iterations, but I was looking forward to them in this game. I also appreciate the focus on five NXT superstars who exhibit potential to become the next legends of WWE; with two of them already being part of the WWE roster.
You continue to unlock stuff by meeting specific conditions of the match, and this mechanic is starting to feel boring, especially when the unlocked attire means merely having the wrestler in a different attire but coming out to the same music and entrance moves. These don’t always happen on real TV .
In-ring action, which is the core gameplay, feels all too familiar. While there are some new animations, most of the sequence of actions are recycled. If you’re proficient, the in-ring grapple and counter action can lead to chain of moves, dictated by how fast you nail the action window. During the initial hours, be prepared for a tug of war between button presses.
Unless you’re controlling your favourite superstars or reliving a favourite flashback, being made to complete matches with an assigned grappler feels obligatory. This becomes frustrating when you fail to meet the objective and end up having to replay.
While there are improvements, the commentary still suffers from lag, especially when the player cancels an attempted move but the commentary drags on about the said move. You will also hear many ancient one-liners.
I was playing on Xbox360 while my brothers were having fun with the PS3 copy. We came across a bug in the PS3 version in which after certain wrestlers made their entrance, the console would shut down. This happens especially with Bray Wyatt’s entrance. Spooky? Maybe. Frustrating? Undisputedly. Both my slim PS3 console and PS3 game are all updated and we’re automatically connected online. I know this can be resolved with a patch easily, but it caused my brothers to turn to other titles for their gaming fix. So far, there are no issues with the Xbox360 version, thankfully.
At this juncture, it’s definitely unfair to give absolute judgment on WWE 2K15. I have yet to experience the true version of the game on PS4 or Xbox One which will be out from 18 November, and I’m sure the overall experience will be much better. I’m especially excited over the new MyCareer Mode, which is missing from the Xbox360/PS3 version.
The last-gen version of WWE 2K15 serves as a motivation to save up and move on to PS4 or XboxOne, and I plan to do that by Wrestlemania 31!