I’m sure you’ve all heard that quote from Albert Einstein; the one where he defines insanity as “…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
By that logic, my brother is insane.
Every year he pre-orders the newest WWE video game, every year I implore him not to, reminding him that the previous year’s edition was shite and yet every year he does it anyway.
I thought he was joking when he said he’d pre-ordered WWE2K14, I really did. But he wasn’t.
He told me he was sure it would be better this year, since 2K Sports had a full year to work on it having taken over from THQ after the latter company went bust.
I did remind him that it was still developed by Yukes, so he shouldn’t expect miracles.
But still, there he was, playing through the much vaunted “30 Years of Wrestlemania” Mode, WWE’s trump card for this year.
Let’s just say that in one afternoon of playing it, he’d already got himself as far as Wrestlemania 22, so I doubt that mode has legs.
And so once again, any long-term playability rests within the match engine itself.
So he convinced me to have a go of a Royal Rumble to see what I thought.
I did, and I was left with a mixture of smug satisfaction knowing I was right, anger at WWE for putting out yet another sub-standard game, and a mild sense of pity for him and every other sucker who has been swayed into buying this ropey product.
Now I’ll admit that my experience with the product only extends to a handful of matches, a Royal Rumble and watching him play the Wrestlemania mode a bit, but that’s enough for me to make my mind up on it. It’s quite clear that my thoughts from last year, the year before that, and hell, 10 years before that will still be the same.
So here are my big issues with Why You Shouldn’t Buy WWE2K14
I had a quick skim of some of the reviews this game has been getting. And yes, these reviews – like every year – give it a glowing bumming up by people who either have been paid off or just haven’t played a good wrestling game before.
But anyway, to a man, they talk about how the presentation is out of this world.
And this is a massive bugbear of mine.
Within five minutes of playing it, I’d found the following issues…
- Sgt Slaughter doesn’t have his correct theme music. Before anyone tries to say “That was his music at Wrestlemania VII”, it wasn’t. His theme music when he was a heel started with him shouting “Attention”. How hard would it be to just use that particular MP3 file in their collection or ask him to re-record it?
- Big John Studd doesn’t have his theme music. Again, I accept that he didn’t have music in his Wrestlemania I match, but if you’re going to insist on giving him music, why not give him his proper theme from his 1988/9 run?
- The likes of Andre the Giant and King Kong Bundy do have music when they shouldn’t.
- Randy Savage doesn’t have the right music. And this to me is probably the biggest blunder of all. I mean for crying out loud, the version WWE used back in the day was a generic license free version of one of the most famous pieces of music in history. They could have spent 2 minutes finding that.
- Bret Hart was called “The Excellence IN Execution” by Michael Cole on commentary. Surely Cole knows that’s wrong, and even if he doesn’t, there must be quality control somewhere along the line?
- Wrestlers like Big John Studd don’t come out in their entrance gear. Laziness.
- The Ultimate Warrior’s entrance graphics make him look about as threatening as Charles Hawtrey, as he camply pumps him first in the air.
- The Royal Rumble camera angle has changed so that you don’t see the entrance of wrestlers before they come in. To me, that’s actually making what is already a dodgy game worse.
I’m sure there are plenty of good things about the presentation of this game – especially for the current roster – but for the Legends that are such a strong selling point of the product (after all, the main marketing for this game has been for The Ultimate Warrior) it’s riddled with basic errors.
It’s not like I’m some sort of autistic who sees minutiae problems as deal breaking. No, these are fundamental complaints with the presentation of one of the game’s key selling points. If I – as someone who can tell these problems simply from remembering them from my childhood – can easily spot issues, why can’t someone in Quality Assurance at Yukes, 2K Sports of WWE do the same?
It reminds me of the problem they have with Rick Rude in these games. I understand he’s DLC for this one, but when that DLC comes out, you can bet that he’ll have that crappy theme tune he had for about 2 months in 1987 and not the one everyone knows him for and would prefer for him to have. And moreover, when he comes out to the ring he won’t have a robe either, nor will his hands touch his head when he does his hip swivel.
WWE might well say about theme music issues that they don’t want to pay for the rights to certain artists work, but at the same time, they are happy to take all our money to buy a product that isn’t as good as it could be.
In terms of presentation, all I ask is that if they want to use Legends as a selling point, that they actually do them properly.
The Same Gameplay Problems
I would struggle, but I could forgive the presentation problems if the game was fun to play, but again, it’s not.
Royal Rumbles are the same as ever. All I have to do to win it is throw someone towards the ropes, press A and then press a series of buttons faster that the AI or my friends (which isn’t difficult) and the opponent has been eliminated. I came in as number two after my brother, and once he’d been eliminated (and strangely was unable to come back in again) there was never really a point when there was more than one AI opponent in the ring at a time. It was tiresome, and it was incredibly dull.
That aside, many of the same basic problems remain the same. Opponent switching means that you can attempt an elbowdrop on a standing opponent, top rope moves are sketchy at best, and throwing someone into a corner where someone else is already standing results in the wrestler jogging on the spot for a while.
Why do they never change any of these problems?
Moreover, there are still these silly cutscenes that interrupt play, but only for the human player. So for example, when my brother was eliminated from the Rumble, I had to watch a cutscene for 10 seconds while the AI kept on punching and kicking my guy. Crap.
But then that’s really what WWE games are these days; cutscenes. You’ve just got to maneuver an opponent into a certain area, press one button and watch a sequence of moves play out. That’s just garbage; there’s no difficulty level there at all.
Wrestlers of course also have ridiculous move sets as well, especially the legends who end up doing moves you’d never have seen them do in the past.
The Same Roster As Ever
Now as many of you will know, I work for Sports Interactive, who make the Football Manager series of games. I’m also a big fan of the FIFA series.
So I understand that sports games are released year on year, often – in FIFA’s case – with only minor tweaks and roster updates, and I’m fine with that. The changes in roster are important.
But WWE games very rarely even change that.
I’m not sure how many wrestlers in this game weren’t in the last one or two games, but I doubt its many. Less than 10 and certainly nobody important.
So we’re expected to pay out year on year for a game that hasn’t changed in terms of gameplay or indeed wrestlers.
And the ones who are in it – in terms of the current WWE roster – are barely represented properly. It always seems out of date, whether it’s costumes or theme music. Tensai for example has his Japanese style theme which I don’t think he’s used for a good 6-8 months.
Also, who really cares about playing as “Young” Brock Lesnar when he’s the same bloke with the same look and mostly the same moves? Or old school Kane when the one in the game has his mask again?
Playing To Tell A Story
The 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode is a nice idea, but as I said, it can be conquered in a day.
That aside (and that’s a massive flaw in itself), what annoyed me from watching my brother play it is that the game demands that you lose for a while.
What sort of game asks the player to let the AI beat him up for a spell so he can make a comeback? You’ve got situations where to beat certain matches, you have to allow your opponent to do his finisher on you so you can kick out of it. So basically, from the off, you may as well just sit back, let the other wrestler beat you up to the point where they’ve got their finisher, and only then start your comeback.
That’s just got gaming the wrong way round if you ask me.
How Could It Improve?
So there you have my main concerns with this game. There are others, such as the Create-A-Wrestler mode which is overcomplicated & unwelcoming, and the clumsiness of other modes like certain Gimmick matches that don’t flow well, but those are the main ones. And that’s saying nothing for the supposedly crap and limited Universe mode.
What frustrates me the most is that the wrestling game genre could and should be far better than it is.
You ask most gamers who have played wrestling games since their childhood and they’ll likely tell you that games of the ilk of Fire Pro Wrestling, Virtual Pro Wrestling, King of Colosseum and the much-loved No Mercy were simply a lot more fun to play. Less frills of course, but you could have a better structured and more engaging match.
But thanks to Yukes, this particular sub genre of the gaming world is rotting away from a creative standpoint. The gameplay isn’t a patch on what it was, and while the likes of football games and First Person Shooters have advanced in the last 10 years, wrestling games have gone backwards.
The thing is though, as long as they get these puzzlingly good reviews and people still buy the product, there will never be change.
And that is eerily reflective of WWE as well.
What’s more, there’s no alternative to buy, so it can’t be like when people migrated away from the stagnant PES and moved to FIFA.
A real shame.
Now fair enough if you like it; that’s your call. But ask yourself two questions…
Have you played any other wrestling game before?
Do you have any real interest in playing a straight forward, 1-on-1 exhibition match on WWE2k14?
I doubt it.