Video Game Smackdown

From 1987’s WWF Superstars, to 2015’s WWE 2K15, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) which was formerly known as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), has had its fair share of video games. Dating back to WWF Superstars, WWF/E games coming out almost on a yearly basis. This year is no exception and this year’s version does not disappoint.

WWE 2K15, developed by Visual Concepts and Yuke’s and published by 2K games, is the latest video game in the WWE franchise of video games. It features improved game modes, extreme visual improvements, exceptional gameplay and better match pacing to deliver an exceptional WWE game.

At the core of every game are its controls and overall gameplay. WWE 2K15 has made the combat in the game feel better than it has in years. The wrestlers in the game no longer move as fast as they used to.

The wrestlers actually seem like they have weight behind them now, and each punch and grapple has a great feeling behind it.

The controls are basically the same as they have been over the past few years and that’s not a bad thing. They’re responsive, easy to pickup and never feel clunky. Wrestlers punch, grapple, run, climb and smash weapons with the touch of a button. The ease of the controls and their responsiveness are huge parts of why this game impresses.

The match pacing is also done really well. In the beginning of each match, wrestlers “lock up,” as they would at an actual match and fight to gain the upper hand. The way the controls work for this is that when you grapple at the beginning, a meter with the right stick pops up. You have to find the right spot to hold the stick in. Once you do, the meter turns red and your wrestler gains the upper hand in the “lock up”. This “lock up” continues until one wrestler is firmly in control and the other is slammed into the mat. This feature makes each match more realistic than in previous years.

The stamina system has also been improved with the game. If you run around a lot, punch a lot and grapple too much, your wrestlers stamina will fade, leaving him unable to run or perform certain types of moves. This improved stamina system helps the flow of the match since you can’t run around forever. It forces the player to make calculated decisions about what wrestling moves they want to use and what direction they want to take match in.

A big part of wrestling games and wrestling in general is finishing moves. From The Rock’s Rock Bottom, to the Undertaker’s Tombstone, every wrestler has that one move that once performed means the opponents time is up. 2K15 has now implemented a percentage system in order for you to see how close to a finishing move your wrestler is. The more you perform moves, reversals  and hit your opponent with weapons, the closer your wrestler gets to earning his or her finishing move. At 100 percent, your wrestler gains a signature move which when performed, automatically grants a finishing move. At 150 percent a finishing move is granted as well. Up to three finishing moves can be saved at one time for later use.

WWE 2K15 has a good amount of game modes as well. 2K showcase mode features the rivalry of John Cena and CM Punk as well as the rivalry between Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Each rivalry contains many matches that highlight moments in the rivalry between the two wrestlers. As you complete matches and objectives in the matches, unlockables are unlocked for use in other game modes. More rivalries and storylines will be included in upcoming DLC packs including Path of the Warrior, which chronicles the journey of the Ultimate Warrior in WWE.

Exclusive to the PS4 and Xbox One version of the game is the MyCareer mode in which you create a wrestler and work your way up the WWE ladder until you hit the big time on WWE Raw and WWE Smackdown. The decisions you make influence the way this mode turns out, and it’s actually a very nice addition to the game, since we haven’t seen a mode like this in a few weeks. Exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PS3 version of the game are “Who Got NXT” and “Proving Ground.” In “Who Got NXT” players play as “NXT” wrestlers Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Bo Dallas, Corey Graves and Rusev. In “Proving Ground,” players have to use the “NXT” superstars to defeat an overpowered John Cena.

Universe mode returns on all video games systems and it is a welcome return. In universe mode, you basically control all storylines that are going on within the WWE universe. You determine each aspect of it including who holds each championship belt.

The visual improvements to the game are absolutely spectacular. Wrestlers look like splitting images of their real life counterparts. Visual Concepts went all out this year and WWE 2K15 is the best looking WWE game to date.

The roster is pretty good as well. It features most of the wrestlers that are around today including Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins as well as legends including The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and The Undertaker. More wrestlers will be released in the future with DLC content on its way.

For all of the positive things WWE 2K15 possesses, it does have some shortcomings. I wouldn’t have minded a bigger roster and some more rivalries to be included with the game at launch. The creation suite within the game has also been toned down which will come as a disappointment to some fans who like to create different wrestlers. There is also “Day One DLC” for the game (the wrestler, Paige, who is also only obtainable by purchasing the season pass) and I’ve never been a fan of that.

Overall, WWE 2K15 is a great game. The improved visuals, great controls and gameplay, improved modes and match pacing all add up to a great wrestling game and a solid debut on next-gen consoles. Although it does have its shortcomings (which I expected due to it being the first WWE game on next-gen consoles), WWE 2K15 will make wrestling fans, new and old, happy with their purchase.