For the last few years, I’ve been falling in and out of love with pro wrestling. My dad got me hooked on it during the old Prime Time Wrestling days so I try to get into it as much as I can but for every great moment like Daniel Bryan winning the world championship or CM Punk’s epic pipe bomb speech there seems to be three or four boring Cena VS Randy Orton matches. WWE 2K15 is the perfect embodiment of that; every time the game does something great it stops its own push and Cena’s things up. There are some great moments here, and pro wrestling nerds will find things to love, but with a smaller roster, less features and disappointing new mechanics, WWE 2K15 can only be seen as a disappointment.
It really didn’t have to though since 2K15 was primed to be the revolution it claims to be. With 2K15, 2K sports and visual concepts aimed to make the first wrestling game that matches the pace and tone of what you see on TV. How do they plan to do that? Matches now start with a tie-up mini game that essentially acts like rock paper, scissors. One button does an arm bar, another a headlock and another a grapple with one taking precedence over the other. Does it make the matches seem more realistic? Yes, to an extent, but at what cost? The element of strategy is completely gone and left to a luck mini game that make matches feel slow and boring (and the crowds will let you know, they’ll quickly chant boring even when you’re just starting the game’s tie-up mini game).
The mini game mode then gives way to essentially the same gameplay that the series has seen for years but with a few more questionable features. New stamina and momentum meters are meant to control the pace of the action to a more realistic pace but just manage to make things more awkward. In a perfect world, these two bars should make a world of difference in matches but they don’t feel like their ideas have been implemented fully. The stamina meter is easily the least well implemented, as no matter who you’re playing as, their stamina is the same. Playing as Big Show is the same thing as playing as Rey Mysterio and it always feels like after a few minutes in a match you’re crawling on your hands and knees grasping for air. This is no matter what you do, and how the match goes. The momentum meter is easily manipulated by spamming moves and taunting.
All of this adds up to an experience that is the exact opposite of what 2K was trying to accomplish with their first real entry into the wrestling game series. Matches are the exact opposite of well paced and come off as cheap imitations of what’s come before. This is all not to say that there aren’t moments of greatness in2K15 as great moments can be put together but you have to go out of your way to try to make them happen. I had a two out of three falls match with CM Punk VS Sami Zayn that featured a ton of close falls and excellent spots but it meant me purposefully trying to pace the match a certain way to make it happen. It also doesn’t help that the game’s audio is so subpar; I thought that with the recent focus on crowd interactions, crowd noise would be a major focus, but they’re dead more often than not (except when they’re chanting boring). I even took NXT’s Sami Zayn and had him take the world championship from Brock Lesnar in a Hell in a Cell match and got almost no reaction to this huge event. The commentary is also just as bad as ever and could use a major overhaul.
Most of 2K15’s gameplay modes have transferred over from the previous game like WWE Universe and the creation suite. While there are less features in the creation suite this go-round (you can’t make divas, arenas or championships), the logo imported mechanic is a great tool and allows you to import pictures and even faces to make your creations even more realistic. The two new major game modes are the 2K showcase mode, which allows you to replay key matches in great rivalries like Shawn Michaels VS Triple H and even CM Punk VS John Cena and the new MyCareer mode which mimics the career mode in 2K’s basketball series and has you going from NXT to Wrestlemania and seeing where your career goes. Both modes are entertaining enough but grow old too quickly to be considered anything substantial.
If WWE 2K15 were an event, it would be last year’s Royal Rumble. It’s filled with promise, and even has it’s fair share of high spots but ultimately lands with a gigantic disappointing Batista sized thud. It’s got less features, a smaller roster and disappointing new mechanics that do little to ad to the experience. While there’s still fun to be had with WWE 2K15, especially if you’ve been clamoring for a wrestling game for your new console, it pails in comparison to what came before it.