OOOOOO YEEEAAAHHH!! Get ready to step into a slim-jim and claim your championship belt as WWE 2K15 was on show at EGX 2014. This year’s entry is promising to bring the next generation to the table, with updated rosters, new mechanics, updated visuals and cleaned up animations. But does the game truly deserve the title of World Champion? Time to step into the ring and find out.
WWE 2K15, in comparison to its predecessor, looks simply fantastic. Wrestlers that had issues with either their builds or faces have been cleaned up to look more accurate than ever before. By far these are some of the best looking models from any of the previous wrestling games. Even the walk-in intros have been updated to look more appealing with the lighting playing a pivotal role. Along with the visuals are the new and smoothed out animations that are also looking great. The entire experience truly looks like a real match.
A quick comparison of John Cena in 2K14 and 2K15. Huge improvement.
But while the game looks good, the gameplay itself does seem to be lack-lustre. The new controls, for example, are interesting but can confuse players who are used to the old control set up. Hopefully this can be changed in the options menu in the full release. As for the new mechanics they feel like they just slow down the game, like a rest hold in an actual match. The brand new grapple system has it so that you and your opponent fight over who is in the dominant position for the grapple. This can result in anything from a huge suplex to a takedown arm bar. The move is decided through picking which hold you want to go into and then finding the ‘sweet spot’ by moving the left thumbstick until you see a red meter fill up. Though this is an interesting mechanic that can turn the tide of situations, it unfortunately slows down the flow of matches way too much.
Grappling opponents on the ground and fighting them in the corner have also been improved upon from the former games. Signatures, Finishers and normal moves on a downed opponent will move them away from the ropes and closer to the middle of the ring if the move requires more space. The animation as well differs depending on where you are performing the move. Turnbuckle fighting is also improved by allowing players to fight whilst perched on the top rope. This will give you the time to perform an aerial manoeuvre on a standing opponent as they failed to take you down. These little additions help make the matches feel both natural and realistic.
Similar to the prepare animation for finishers, the kneeling rise animation is a nice new addition
If you are taken down the ground after failing to reverse a move of any kind, you now have to recover, not from mashing all the buttons, but by holding in R3. This feels very weird and in some places also feels inappropriate. Mashing out the buttons in order to recover faster felt right as you are trying your hardest to stand back up. Just holding down one button and waiting for a result can be boring and drive the recovery time on for a longer period. However, there is a new mechanic brought in from recovering in the downed position. Depending on how damaged you are, you may end up recovering into a kneeled down state. This can give your opponent a split moment to capitalise and get you down once more, but also gives you a chance to counter his attempts to get yourself up faster.
With a mixed bag of both good and bad qualities, there is still one huge concern that I have for the game. At EGX, WWE 2K15 was playable on the PS4. Although the game looked great, it did not play at a smooth frame rate at all. Whenever you would leave the ring, interact with the commentator tables or do anything on the outside of the squared circle, the game would slow from 60 FPS to about 45 and even 30 FPS. Another deterrent is how the crowd and commentators are animated at 30 FPS naturally. This makes their reactions and standard animations look poor in comparison to the wrestlers, which collectively ruins the experience on the current gen console version. I am hoping that this was just a bug with the preview build and will be addressed before the full release in November.
New and cleaned up models and animations tied in with clunky controls and frame drops make for an overall a disappointing experience. That said, I am expecting to see vast improvements in the full release version of the game, as it is still looking promising. But if these issues are not put into consideration and dealt with upon release, then the WWE 2K15, on both old and new gen consoles, will suffer.
To be sure of one thing, when you talk about Sting or the WWE games, is that nothing is for sure
What do you think of WWE 2K15? Do you think it is aiming towards championship quality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and keep an eye out for more EGX 2014 coverage.