It’s another year and the annual WWE videogame has arrived once again. This time, the WWE license is under a new publisher in 2K Sports, but not much has changed to make the game better under the new helm. WWE 2K14 does add to an already solid series of games, but this means nothing when core issues from previous iterations aren’t addressed. What you have in WWE 2K14 is a game that has all the extra flash and flare, but the foundation is just as weak as before.
The hook with last year’s WWE ’13 was the opportunity to play through the biggest and best moments of the famed attitude era of wrestling. Taking that concept a step further, WWE 2K14 allows you to relive the greatest matches within the last 30 years of WrestleMania and the company’s premier event is plentiful in that regard. Because of the sheer amount of historic matches revisited here, the roster may be the best ever put together for a videogame. Mainstays like The Rock, Stone Cold and John Cena are all here and they are joined by huge stars of yesteryear, including Goldberg, Yokozuna and The Ultimate Warrior. Also, Yukes has really upped their arena game by not only including every TV and PPV arena of the calendar year, but also every single WrestleMania arena from 1 to 29 and a concept of the 30th. That, for a fan like me, is very impressive.
Newcomers will be greeted to a hefty and historically accurate account of WrestleMania history with fantastic video packages and mission based gameplay with the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode. Lifelong fans, like myself, will enjoy rewatching old footage and being able to play epic matches like Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker or even some of wrestling’s biggest blunders like Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg. Going above and beyond the simple objectives, such as using a certain move to gain a pinfall, will unlock extra content, so it’s better to attempt to recreate WrestleMania moments than not.
WWE Universe Mode makes a return and it follows the same formula established in previous iterations. Customization is at an all-time high with even more options, such as the ability to have a women’s championship established as a major title. That’s right, no more sexism here, folks! You can now also set up rivalries, assign default attires and choose how many matches you want to have per show. Fans who are looking for more flexibility with their booking have even more to tinker with in WWE 2K14.
Character customization has also been built upon with even more options than before. Newcomers to the creation process will be overwhelmed by the continually growing options. Every detail from the angle of the camera when a superstar enters the ring to the little tattoo on the left ankle of a wrestler can be customized. One neat new feature that has been added is the ability to add a twitter handle when a custom superstar enters the ring just like on TV. It’s a cool way to have online creations give their creators some shine when downloaded by others around the world.
Completely new to the WWE franchise is The Streak mode. Since The Undertaker’s streak has played such a pivotal role in the history of WrestleMania, it’d only be fitting to have a mode dedicated to it. Here, you can choose to defend the streak or end it. It’s not as fully fleshed out as the 30 years of WrestleMania or WWE Universe mode, but it is a novelty that offers up a challenge that fans can appreciate. I got my butt kicked multiple times trying to break the streak, but once I got it done, it was a very rewarding moment.
When it comes to the overall gameplay of WWE 2K14, reoccurring issues and glitches bring down the what could have been amazing experience. The AI is still very finicky and the collision detection leaves much to be desired. I don’t believe I was able to have an entire match without something questionable happening. Whether it be my superstar mysteriously floating, objects warping into other objects or unexplained animations that should not have occurred, something annoying happened and it’s the same problems we’ve seen year after year. And anything outside of a simple one-on-one match, forget about it — it’s a circus.
Presentation also hurts the overall experience of WWE 2K14 and it’s a fix the franchise desperately needs. The menus and selection screens have remained largely the same for the past two years. If it weren’t for a giant glaring logo in the background, I would think this was the same game two years ago. I don’t mind it too much as it isn’t a necessarily bad thing, but it does make me rethink the value I’m getting out of my dollars. Plus, when games under the same publisher like NBA 2K14 are putting up amazing soundtracks, I would like something more than the same superstar themes repeated. WWE ’12 had original music, why couldn’t this? Also, the announcing team sound worse than ever before. I could understand I will hear the same lines after a while, but it shouldn’t happen as often as it does in WWE 2K14. I was using the steel steps on my opponent and heard the same two lines repeated.
Taking the game online, my experience was met by unpleasant matches to say the least. Matches were either sluggish or imperfect enough to throw off my precision in this heavily time-based game. When in the middle of a crucial pin, forget about kicking out because there is no way you’ll time it just right. The only way to actually get out of the pin would be by sheer and random luck. Again, same problem that has not been properly addressed.
WWE 2K14 looks great and has content that can last you ages. However, the sub-par gameplay and unplayable online makes the entire experience crumble apart and this notion is magnified when you’re a veteran of WWE games. It feels aged and it’s time for some drastic changes or the franchise will start losing fans, like myself, by the multitude. As much as I wanted to like this game, I just couldn’t look past the problems that have plagued the franchise for years — not this time. Let’s hope the next generation of consoles will spark some inspiration for 2K15.