Wrestling fans young and old, it’s time to step back into the squared circle with WWE 2K14, the latest installment in a long running WWE games franchise. Does WWE 2K14 have what it takes to lay the smack down on the competition or will it go down for the three count?
WWE 2K14 is the latest installment in a long running franchise of WWE games. Dating back to “WWF SmackDown” for the PlayStation, this is considered to be the “Madden” of wrestling games. With the down fall of THQ earlier this year, the future of the WWE license was in doubt. However, in only a few short months, Take Two Interactive has picked up the pieces and is now in control over the franchise. With hits like NBA 2K and MLB 2K, acquiring the WWE license seemed like a perfect fit. Picking up where WWE 13 left off, WWE 2K14 looks to continue to expand and grow on a very solid wrestling title.
WWE 13 introduced the Attitude Era mode, a mode that covered one of the hottest periods in professional wrestling. Players were given various objectives in each match to complete to unlock additional wrestlers, attires and a host of other rewards. This was well received by many fans. This year, 2K Sports has taken this concept and has chosen to focus on the biggest spectacle of all Sports Entertainment; WrestleMania!
In 30 Years of WrestleMania, you play and recreate the most memorable matches from WrestleMania’s I through XXIX. You have well over 40+ matches to play through. Each match is represented and recreated to the very tee. The presentation in this mode is stellar and accurate. The arenas, crowds, the atmosphere, wrestler entrances, it’s all there for you to go back in time and relive some of the greatest moments in WrestleMania’s history. Screen filters have been added to give these match-ups a grainy, nostalgic look. Each match is presented with background information telling you the story leading up to the match, along with pictures and highlight videos. The majority of each match is presented to how you witnessed it in real life, minus a couple of minor differences due to certain wrestlers not being in the game or other reasons. For example, in the build-up to the main event of WrestleMania II between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy, Hogan’s ribs were taped up to sell the injuries caused by an earlier attack from Bundy. In the game, the tape is nowhere to be found. This is nothing to take away from the experience overall, but it would have been nice to see these smaller details in the game for the hardcore fan. I am personally satisfied with the lineup of matches given, but a couple of matches that didn’t make the cut have me scratching my head. Where is “Macho Man” Randy Savage versus The Ultimate Warrior from WrestleMania VII? How about The Undertaker versus Randy Orton from WrestleMania 21? The “No Holds Barred” Match between Shawn Michaels and Mr. McMahon from WrestleMania 22? With these characters included in the game, it’s surprising these matches and a few others didn’t make the cut.
The objectives in these matches are very simple, basic and at times easier than in the Attitude Era mode from WWE 13. Simple tasks such as getting your opponent to light, moderate or critical health to unlock additional objectives or hitting someone over the head with a steel chair or performing a finisher and winning the match within’ ten seconds. All of these are a bit too easy and can become repetitive by the time you’re halfway through the mode. However, by completing all these you will unlock 99% of all the unlockable wrestlers, managers, arenas, and alternate ring attires. Therefore your best bet is to complete each objective for every match and continue on to the next one.
One thing I can say about this mode is whether you’re a hardcore wrestling fan or a newbie, you will find at least one match that will appeal to you.
Seeing the tears flow after Ric Flair lost his retirement match to Shawn Michaels stands out as one of the most stellar and memorable moments in the 30 Years of WrestleMania. You can’t help but get a little emotional watching one of the greatest of all time take his final bow from the squared circle. Other moments like the conclusion to the Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Triple H were fun to relive. Watching Triple H, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels walk away from the ring together is a moment longtime fans will never forget and this is accurately recaptured in WWE 2K14.
The commentary from Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler is acceptable; I would have liked to have heard the original commentary instead. While it’s impossible to recreate the late, great Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura calling a match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III, it would be nice to hear audio clips and sound bites from the original recordings implemented to each match.
Overall, the 30 Years of WrestleMania is presented with a few minor inconsistences and flaws, the mode serves as a great successor to the Attitude Era in WWE 13. Wrestling fans of all eras will find enjoyment in playing and recapturing the greatest matches in the history of WrestleMania from bell to bell.
With the theme of WWE 2K14 being centered around WrestleMania, it’s only fitting that 2K Sports pays tribute to one of the greatest winning streaks of all time. The Undertaker, one of the WWE’s most legendary and iconic figures, has an undefeated WrestleMania winning streak. With a streak that currently stands at 21-0, the concept to this mode is either defeat or defend The Undertaker’s illustrious winning streak. “Defeat the Streak” is pretty straight forward. You choose any WWE Superstar from the roster and go toe-to-toe with “The Deadman” in an attempt to dethrone The Undertaker and become immortalized. “Defend the Streak” lets you play as The Undertaker as you run through the gauntlet against one WWE Superstar after the other, defeating as many wrestlers as you can before you inevitably lose.
“Defeat the Streak” is an interesting challenge in it of itself. Wrestling against The Undertaker can be compared to fighting the final boss of any old school video game. To beat The Undertaker you truly have to be on your ‘A’ game and have the gameplay mechanics mastered. You have very little room for error. If you screw up and make too many mistakes early on, you’re done for. The Undertaker is simply relentless and will give you no mercy. To make matters worse, he has a few tricks up his sleeve and a few exclusive abilities tailored to his character. For example, after hitting your finishing move, the lights will go out in the arena causing The Undertaker to disappear, then reappear behind you and hit you with an unexpected Tombstone Piledriver. If you go in for a submission move, he can reverse this into his patented Hell’s Gates finisher and force you to tap out faster than Sammy Davis Jr. Add these elements in with a super aggressive A.I. and you’re in for the fight of your life. In spite of this, with carefully timed reversals and a good strategy, The Undertaker can be beaten. Giving you a real sense of accomplishment and bragging rights. In my personal opinion, this is my favorite mode in WWE 2K14. If nothing else, this will teach you how to improve your game and learn the ropes so to speak if you choose to play on a higher difficulty setting later on.
“Defend the Streak” can also be a fun challenge, although it lacks the oomph “Defeat the Streak” has. The concept has you plowing through one WWE Superstar after the other, defeating each opponent by pinfall, submission or knock out with the difficulty slowly increasing as you go. After defeating every five superstars, The Undertaker will regain some health back. Ultimately, this is a mode to see how many wrestlers you can eliminate before you eventually succumb to defeat. Between both modes, you can upload your scores to the online leaderboards to compare to your friends and other players around the world.
There is also a “WrestleMania Victims” feature. This lets you view screenshots and background info on each of the 21 ‘victims’ who challenged the Streak and lost.
One of the more popular features in recent years for the WWE games franchise is the Universe Mode. An option allowing you to take full control over the WWE as you see fit. Booking matches, scheduling shows, editing rosters, tag teams/stables, titles and so on. This year, 2K Sports has added a couple good tweaks to go along with a plethora of options already given to you.
The biggest change you will see is the new Rivalry manager. In the past, rivalries in WWE Universe mode were formed through playing a series of multiple matches with the same wrestlers. While this can still be done, you can now use this tool to create your own rivalries and have them automatically scheduled to take place on your shows.
You choose between having a singles or a tag team rivalry to start out. Then, you select from having a short, medium or long term rivalry. Short rivalries are your ‘one and done’ feuds that last through one Pay-Per-View event. Medium rivalries extend over two months, and the long rivalries last well over three. You can also have feuds over Championship titles if you wish to go that route. Once a rivalry has been set, matches involving around those superstars will automatically be booked for you starting on the next show. There’s even an option for you to play out those feuds only without having to hassle with simulating or skipping over the other matches booked on your shows, which is a nice little touch.
One other tweak you will notice is the WWE.com option. Everything is streamlined between this and Customize Universe. Allowing you to view breaking news stories pertaining to your rivalries, Superstar and Diva heel/face turns, injuries and so on. You can also view the Championship Rankings and adjust those to your liking however you want. In Customize Universe, everything you can edit and tweak in your Universe can be done so here. You want to move John Cena over to SmackDown? How about forming a tag team between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk? Want Zack Ryder as your new WWE Champion? Go for it! One other minor addition allows you to tweak each Superstar and Divas attires within’ Universe Mode. If a wrestler has more than one attire, or you’ve created your own with Superstar Threads, you can set these up to use automatically from match to match or set to random where each week a wrestler or diva will come out in different attires just like in real life.
Overall, with these new additions along with the tried and true options that have carried over from previous games, along with new Universe cutscenes and a vast array of options at your disposal, you will have more than enough on your plate to keep you busy.
While I feel these are great additions to the mode, I would like to see this expanded upon next year. Sadly, you can only have 3 Rivalries per show and they’re only booked on ‘Major’ shows such as RAW and SmackDown by default. I had a lot of fun playing these storylines and seeing how they turned out from show to show. This is truly something you can get addicted to and keep playing and playing until WWE 2K15 inevitably arrives next fall. There’s so many options and stuff you can do and tweak to your liking that anyone can become engaged into this and get sucked into the Universe (no pun intended) and have a great time.
The cream of the crop in the WWE games franchise is without a doubt the creation modes. Whether you enjoy creating your own cast of characters or creating real life WWE Superstars or Divas who didn’t make the cut, each year you’re given plenty of tools to work with to create whatever you want to. WWE 2K14 is no different and has expanded on this in a couple of ways.
One of the new additions is a feature called “Superstar Heads”. An option that is embedded to the CAW mode, you pick and choose from several in-game Superstar ‘heads’ then apply your own ring attires to those characters. With the WWE changing characters, angles, and storylines at a rapid fire pace, this is a nice way to keep some of your Superstars up to date without having to recreate them from scratch. Do you want to see John Cena in his debut “Prototype” ring gear? Or how about creating a fat and obese Undertaker for a few laughs? The option is there for you to create them to your liking.
While this is a neat addition, I am disappointed to say you cannot alter their hairstyles or facial features. It would also be nice if we could see some Diva head models thrown in as well. Nevertheless, these are just minor complaints that I can see being tweaked and added to next year’s game. One major addition is the expansion of CAW slots. This year, WWE 2K14 has doubled the CAW slots from 50 to 100 this year which is very impressive!
Outside of Superstar heads, creators will be disappointed to learn there is very little to no new ring attires, designs, logos, etc. added to the CAW mode. Having said that, the mode itself is starting to feel ‘dated’ when it comes to creating your own characters facial features and body sizes. While the options given are good and will leave you satisfied and content, in my personal opinion I’d like to see the morphing figures expanded so people can more accurately create their own characters to the very tee. Games such as Saints Row III have allowed you to tweak out every small, possible detail on a person’s face and body. Why can’t this be done in a wrestling game too?
One other small addition is the ability to create your own Twitter handle with each character. Just like in real life, when a WWE Superstar or Diva enters the ring, you will see their Twitter handle flash up on the screen on the nameplate. Now you have that chance to create your own and have it displayed along with your name as your CAW makes his or her way down to ringside. It’s cool and all, but wouldn’t it be awesome if we had some sort of in-game ‘Twitter’ mode to tweet and go back and forth with other CAWS online? Or even an option to connect to the real life Twitter with your CAWs too would be a nice touch.
Another feature that has been requested to make its return since the days of SmackDown vs. RAW 2008 is the Create-A-Championship feature. This year, 2K Sports has delivered and brought it back. Last year, we were treated with a “Championship Belt Editor”, which only allowed you to take the in-game championship titles and tweak the colors of the plates, straps and call it whatever you like. Not only has that feature returned for WWE 2K14, but now you have the option to fully customize and create your own championship titles. While this sounds pretty awesome, it does come at a price.
The good news is you can color and add any in-game designs or your own custom logo’s to the titles however you want. You can add these to the centerplate, side plates and the color of the straps. You can also use your custom titles for Universe mode and Exhibition play. Bad news is? You’re limited! To start out with, you only have FIVE preset championship belt templates to choose from. You cannot select an in-game championship title and customize it to your liking. The five generic designs you can use are lackluster at best. This is better than nothing at all, but I know more could be done with this mode. I can remember having more options and tools to use in the original Create-A-Championship title option over six years ago. To make matters worse, you CANNOT upload your titles to Community Creations. So, if you were hoping to share your creations with your friends, you better get ready to type out some for formulas instead.
Hopefully these issues will be addressed in the next game. Needless to say I am disappointed by the lack of options and user friendly settings. I’ll even go so far as to say the original Create-A-Championship mode was better and gave you more tools and options to work with. So, take my experience for what it’s worth ladies and gentlemen.
Aside from this, expect over 300+ new moves and taunts to use in the Create-A-Moveset option, which is amazing considering the hundreds and hundreds of moves and taunts already packed in the game. Create-A-Logo, Finisher, Story Designer, Entrance and Superstar Threads make a return in WWE 2K14 with little to nothing new added. Although, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering you have plenty to work with. Create-An-Arena makes its return with more stage options and venues to choose from. However, there is a problem with stretching the logo designs out on the apron. In previous games, you were allowed to stretch any logo out as far as you could go to accommodate the size of the ring aprons, mats, and so on. This year, you are restricted and unable to stretch these out. Whether this was intentionally done or a careless glitch in the game? I cannot answer that at this time. However, it does take away from the experience of going in and creating your own arenas from scratch. WWE 2K14 seems to take one big step forward and three steps back with this and it’s a disappointment.
Overall, while there is plenty added and still enough fun to be add in creating your own superstars, logos and championship belts in WWE 2K14, I would have liked to have seen some methods executed differently and more user friendly to the creator.
Now that we’ve thoroughly dissected the game from top to bottom and examined all the key components to this title, let’s dive into the gameplay. At its core, WWE 2K14 looks and plays very much like its predecessor. Appearance wise, the graphics have remained mostly the same outside of a few noticeable minor details. The arenas, particularly each of the WrestleMania arenas have been recreated to the tee with careful attention to detail. The wrestlers look mostly the same as last year’s, although some nice touches have been added for detail. Such as the veins popping out of Triple H’s neck after posing on the ring apron during his water-spitting ritual or the sweat dripping off Mark Henry during his entrance. Little touches like this further add to the realism of the game.
One of the main issues in WWE 13 was the audio. Between the poor commentary, absent sound effects and terrible mix between crowd effects and theme music, the game was a mess! Thankfully, most of these issues have been fixed and corrected. New sound effects were recorded for each bump taken in the ring and many of them sound very good. Commentary is better, although it has its moments of inconsistency. The entrance music has been fixed to blend in better with the crowd effects, however, during matches the crowds can be either completely dead or come alive depending on how the match is going or who’s competing.
One of the major tweaks to the gameplay this year involves the reversal system. Executing reversals are much tighter and will require careful precision and timing than ever before. To add to the difficulty, the more damage you receive the smaller the window is to reverse moves. Also, to counteract an issue in previous games, reversal moves have been added in. No longer will you be countering and exchanging punches and executing boring takedowns. Instead, in addition to countering you’ll be executing belly to belly suplexs, jawbreakers, enziguri kicks and so on depending on a wrestler’s weight class. This adds to the fluidity of the matches and makes them come off as much more realistic and exciting.
Reversals are not the only change in WWE 2K14. WWE 13 introduced “OMG! Moments”. These are special finishing moves that allowed you to spear an opponent through a barricade, put them through the announcers table, and if you wrestled as Super Heavyweights? You could even break the ring with a massive superplex from the top turnbuckle! This year, 2K Sports and YUKES have only added to the mayhem. Now, you can pull off OMG! Moments on the turnbuckle post, ring apron and also during the Elimination Chamber matches. If you place your opponent at the turnbuckle post, you can drive your boot into his head and smash him against the steel post. How about DDT to the ring apron? You can pull this off too and it’s very spectacular and sick to watch. Finally, if you place your opponent against a pod during an Elimination Chamber match, you can perform a Spear through the pod (ala, Bill Goldberg).
There is also character specific OMG! Moments too. If you’re wrestling against two opponents as Ryback, Kane or John Cena, you can perform a double ShellShock, Chokeslam from Hell, or Attitude Adjustment respectively. All of which are very spectacular to sit back and watch. Watching Ryback stomp around with two guys on his shoulder performing the ShellShock is one of the more remarkable gameplay moments that clearly stands out in mind.
All these new additions and tweaks have only added and built a solid foundation to an already great game. However, that doesn’t mean WWE 2K14 is without its flaws and problems. Some lingering issues have yet to be addressed from previous games. Weight detection is still an issue. While there is some ‘level’ of it in the game, it’s still awkward watching a smaller guy like a CM Punk executing a GTS to a 500+ pound Yokozuna or a Big Show. To further add to the issue is another new feature added to the game; Catapult finishers. Last year, we were introduced to Catching Finishers tied to certain finishing moves and holds. If you had a finisher stored and were playing as Shawn Michaels for example, you could counter an opponent’s aerial attack from the top rope and hit him with some Sweet Chin Music. This made for some dramatic and pretty cool finishes. This year, you can now perform these moves offensively by tossing your opponent into the air by tapping L1/LB Button after an irish whip and then hitting your finishing move. Some of these do look pretty cool, while others look downright silly and ridiculous! While pulling off an RKO in mid-air or a well-placed Sweet Chin Music is pretty sweet, imagine tossing someone like The Big Show in air with John Cena, catching him and hitting an Attitude Adjustment? Yeah… that’s never going to happen in real life, so why are we doing this in the game? This is where weight detection becomes an issue and I firmly believe these need to be addressed in future titles. Drops in frame rate and slowdown are still an issue, although not quite as frequent. Minor small glitches like clipping issues and weapons getting stuck are more isolated then they are widespread.
One major adjustment has to do with the opponent A.I. Many complained about the A.I. being too easy in WWE 13, even on the Legend difficulty setting. Well, this has been addressed and I’m happy to say the A.I. is pretty tough. From my playing experience, playing the game on Normal setting felt a lot like last year’s Legend setting. Step it up to Legend setting in WWE 2K14 and needless to say you’ll notice a MAJOR difference! The game can be tough, but it’s perfect tough as long as you learn the mechanics and study the A.I. The A.I. still has some moments of stupidity here and there, but I have to say that in general it’s far improved over WWE 13.
Overall, with any and all negative issues aside, it’s worth saying WWE 2K14 has taken the appropriate steps in the right direction and the improvements overcome the negative issues that still hinder the game from being a perfect wrestling simulation.
Whether you enjoy creating and uploading your CAW’s, movesets, finishing moves and so on, or enjoy a quick online match. There’s something for everyone in WWE 2K14. The experience online for WWE 2K14 is very much the same as WWE 13. First off, you have the Community Creations area.
For those new to the series, Community Creations is an area for players to upload or download their CAW’s, movesets, finishers, stories, arenas, logos, etc. You can go in and download just about anything your little heart desires. If you wish to recreate the Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWE from the 90’s? You can do that. Want to add wrestlers from the TNA and ROH roster? Do it! You have all the freedom in the world to do these things. The servers are much, much faster and more reliable in this installment than in previous years. That’s one thing I can say about my experience with WWE 2K14. Last several years under the THQ banner, they had a lot of serious connection issues with the games and I faithfully say all those have been resolved under the 2K Sports banner.
Aside from this, you’re given your standard Ranked and Player matches. You can play in various match types with your friends or go against random players. The ‘fair fight’ option returns to prevent cheating and level the playing field for everyone. Periodically you will see news updates posted from 2K about future DLC installments and news pertaining to the game. For the most part I can say that I had fun playing WWE 2K14 online. Like in every game, you’ll run into some players who will spam certain moves and pull certain tricks to get the advantage. However, if you like to sit down and have a good match with your buddies it’s a great experience. Downloading/Uploading creations is very fast and fluid. This has truly been one of the better online experiences that I’ve had with a WWE game in a long time. It’s not perfect but this is the best it has been in a while.
Finally, it would not be a WWE game if you didn’t include a vast array of Superstars, Divas and Legends, right? This year, 2K Sports has gone above and beyond the call of duty to bring you what possibly could be the best DLC lineup to date! Here is how the DLC stacks up in WWE 2K14:
• Available for a suggested purchase cost of $1.99.
• Customize the overall rankings and attributes levels of every WWE Superstar, Legend, and Diva in the game. Also unlocks every WWE Superstar, Legend, and Diva, including alternate attires and all arenas and championships in WWE 2K14.
• Scheduled for release on launch day – October 29, 2013 in North America and November 1, 2013 internationally.
• The Giant will be available free of charge!
• Available for a suggested purchase cost of $8.99.
• Playable New World Order-themed Superstars:
o Kevin Nash
o Scott Hall
o “Macho Man” Randy Savage
o Curt Hennig
o Scott Steiner
• Scheduled for release on November 12 in North America and November 13 internationally.
WWE Superstars and Moves Pack
• Summer Rae will be available free of charge!
• Available for a suggested purchase cost of $7.99.
• Playable WWE Superstars and Divas:
o Big E Langston
o Brie Bella
o Nikki Bella
• More than 30 new moves and taunts:
o Koji Clutch
o Soda Plunge
o Black Widow
o Leaping Tombstone Piledriver w/Pin Combo
o Inverted DDT
o Diving Headbutt
o Explosive Dropkick
o Elbow/Back Stabber Combo
o Rope Flip Armdrag
o Double Jump Body Splash
o Two-Hand Chokeslam
o Lil’ Jimmy
o Shoulder Switch Powerslam
o Zack Ryder Comeback
o Alpamare Waterslide
o Rope Hung Kick to Mid-Section
o Package Piledriver
o Burning Hammer
o Butterfly Suplex Armbar
o Corkscrew Shooting Star Press
o Standing Shooting Star Press
o Standing Corkscrew Moonsault
o Springboard 450 Splash
o Psycho Driver
o Rebound Big Boot
o Rebound Elbow Strike
o Billy Goat’s Curse
o Pumphandle Neckbreaker
o Suplex Backbreaker
o Hangman’s Facebuster
o Cradle DDT
o Powerbomb Lungblower
o Wrist Lock Lariat
• Scheduled for worldwide release in December 2013.
WWE Legends and Creations Pack
• Virgil will be available free of charge!
• Available for a suggested purchase cost of $8.99.
• Playable WWE Hall of Famers and Superstars:
o Bruno Sammartino
o “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
o “Ravishing” Rick Rude
o Jake “The Snake” Roberts
• 14 new Superstar Heads and models to utilize in Custom Superstar:
o Alberto Del Rio
o Antonio Cesaro
o CM Punk (long hair)
o Daniel Bryan (clean cut)
o Dolph Ziggler
o Kane (no mask)
o The Miz
o Triple H (short hair)
o Undertaker (long hair)
• Scheduled for worldwide release in January 2014.
WWE 2K14 Season Pass
• Available for a one-time purchase cost of $19.99 (a savings of more than 25 percent versus individual content purchases).
• Season Pass Program Exclusive “The Outsiders”-themed Superstars. Available November 12 in North America and November 13 internationally.
o Scott Hall
o Kevin Nash
• All content packs:
o nWo Pack
o WWE Superstars and Moves Pack
o WWE Legends and Creations Pack
• Online Badges: More than 10 exclusive options
As you can see above, there is so much content 2K Sports is pumping out into this game over next couple of months that will keep you entertained. For a little over $20 you’re receiving more wrestlers, moves, creation options and so much more with the Season Pass. Definitely worth checking out if you wish to expand out your roster and dive headfirst into what the DLC has to offer you.
WWE 2K14 has delivered the goods this year. While some issues are still present and a few problems that I would like to see addressed in future installments, this is truly what I would call the ‘sandbox’ for wrestling games. 2K Sports has delivered a thunderous body slam on its inaugural WWE title. With the reputation the company has over sports title, one can only assume this is only the tip of the iceberg for the potential WWE games will have to offer in the years to come.