I’ve confessed my appreciation for wrestling games before, even if I have little appreciation for the pomp, ceremony and drama that is wrestling, especially the sort perpetrated by the WWE. I’ve been looking forward to WWE2K15 especially, as it’s the first one that 2K’s had full control off since nabbing the licence from the embers of THQ.
It’s been improved says 2K. It unfortunately still has Yukes – that old battered WWE developer – at at the helm, though NBA2K developer Visual Concepts is in the ring to add a bit of polish. Most of that comes via the excellent face scanning and motion capture technology behind NBA. It now affords WWE2K15 the most realistic and authentic models. Randy Orton in the game looks just his real life counterpart. The same goes for everybody else. The Big show has a wholly different body type and body movement to somebody like CM Punk, and that’s all realistically captured in this year’s game. No longer is each wrestler a skin over an archetype template
It’s not just the wrestlers themselves that have been captured like this; the entire ring has been given a substantial makeover. 2K has built a full sized WWE ring in its mo-cap studio, capturing how it reacts to certain moves, so expect realistic rope and ring physics. Detail is key and they’ve even go so far as to record the actual sounds of different moves. A body slam sounds quite different to a jump from the top rope, and that’s reflected in the game’s audio.
The commentary has been given a similar makeover. With Cole and Lawler provided the colour commentary, it’s no longer quite as canned as the veteran commentators no longer just call out the match play by play. They’ll work off of each other, delivering exposition and background story. 2K’s recorded three times the commentary, to make it all flow a little more naturally.
Other changes come to the core part of the game; the actual wrestling. Gameplay is both familiar, but immediately different. No longer can matches start with big moves, but like the real thing it all starts with chain wrestling; a set of rock-paper-scissors styled opening gambits, that segue into a brief mini-game that requires finding the sweet spot; the first wrestler to move the stick in the required direction and hold it there wins the challenge. Beyond that, it plays similarly enough to the last one but it’s visually miles ahead. There are as many as 5 times the number of animations, making everything far smoother, and far more realistic. There’s none of that nonsense of each wrestler reverting to an idle stance before anything can happen, which has always made the series feel dull.
And that’s probably its biggest downfall. With such incredible animation for most of the match, when it falters, the juxtaposition of realism with janky movement is wholly jarring. Hopefully, it’s something that’s gone by the time the game’s actually released.
Last Updated: August 15, 2014