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The NXT generation of sports entertainment is pretty disappointing

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    WWE 2K15

    Rating: 2.5 – Playable

    The NXT generation of sports entertainment is pretty disappointing

    WWE 2K15 had a considerable amount of hype surrounding it–much more than normal for a WWE game. The reason for this is that it’s the first WWE game that is fully developed under the 2K Games banner, and it is the first time a WWE game has been released on eighth generation consoles. Unfortunately, WWE 2K15 is one of the absolute worst entries in the series to date, and one of the most disappointing games of the year.

    The big gimmick behind WWE 2K15 is MyCareer mode. On paper, it sounds awesome. For a long time I have wanted a WWE game where you created a character, started out in NXT, and then worked your way up to the WWE. Would’ve been even cooler if you started out wrestling in gyms on the indie scene, but I digress. In any case, 2K15 completely botches MyCareer mode, the main selling point of the title.

    It starts out fun enough. The goal is to build social media followers and win matches, which will in turn allow you to wrestle on the bigger brands and compete in pay-per-view matches. The core gameplay changes in 2K15, however, make this a boring slog. While using the actual wrestlers in the game in exhibition matches, the core gameplay is not too bad, but in MyCareer, the starting stats of your created wrestler make it an absolute nightmare in the early matches. Each match takes way too long to complete, and it just becomes boring as a result.

    Once you’ve upgraded your wrestler enough to the point that they are able to get through the matches at a much faster rate, another issue arises. The game runs out of ideas. You’ll find yourself repeatedly going through the same kind of match over and over again in an endless grind for social media followers. The transition from SmackDown to Raw takes an absurd amount of time to the point that it’s not even really worth it. Perhaps the dumbest part of MyCareer is that when you actually win the WWE Championship, it just ends and retires your created wrestler. Ridiculous.

    So, MyCareer mode is a major disappointment. The other main single-player offering is 2K Showcase mode, which is just as frustrating as the other story modes have been in past WWE games. 2K Showcase features the rivalries of CM Punk versus John Cena and Triple H versus Shawn Michaels, and allows players to play through the matches that were featured during those rivalries. These matches have special objectives to complete that sometimes force the player to let their opponent get ahead on purpose or take damage, which is just outright stupid and frustrating. I don’t see the appeal in meticulously recreating past WWE moments or matches. It’s not fun and it’s just a snoozefest. If you want to relive the Punk/Cena rivalry or the HHH/HBK rivalry, just get the WWE Network. It’ll be significantly more entertaining.

    The roster in 2K15 is lacking as well. As always, there are people that are terribly outdated, including Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, which is just inexcusable considering they changed their attire months ago. Paige is only available as DLC, and it’s the same story with Sting. The roster is padded with alternate attires for wrestlers being treated as all-new wrestlers, which is insulting. Unlocking these alternate attires doesn’t feel rewarding, it just feels cheap and lazy.

    That being said, I do appreciate the inclusion of NXT talent on the roster. I just wish that there was more of them. To be fair, some of the bigger names in NXT are relatively new additions (such as Hideo Itami, Finn Balor, and Kevin Owens), but the lack of The Ascension is pretty weak. The NXT people that are included are Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, and Corey Graves. Zayn and Neville are particularly fun to play as, but to unlock them (without paying for the DLC that lets you unlock everything) you have to deal with the terrible MyCareer mode.

    I have mixed feelings about the changes to the core gameplay in 2K15. The game is much slower-paced and utilizes a stamina meter to maintain a sense of realism. On one hand, this makes the action much more cerebral and believable, but on the other hand, the stamina meter sometimes feels too restrictive and harsh. Furthermore, this system is one of the main reasons why MyCareer mode is so terrible, as the stats of your wrestler during the early stages makes dealing with these new mechanics such as the stamina meter an absolute nightmare. Overall I think the changes made were a good idea, but some tweaking needs to be done for sure.

    Online multiplayer is also implemented pretty terribly. I don’t know why the WWE games always struggle so much with online, but the online in this game is pretty horrendous as well. The way that it is activated is also just an unnecessarily confusing process, when a traditional lobby and matchmaking system would’ve been much more preferred.

    There is one area where WWE 2K15 succeeds in spades, and that is the presentation. It is by far the best-looking wrestling game ever made. The animation work is extremely impressive, and the amount of visual detail to everything is stunning. The soundtrack, evidently curated by John Cena, has a lot of variety to it and is pretty excellent. There’s not a lot of songs, but each song is great and at least we don’t have to sit and listen to endless loop of entrance music anymore while at the menus. The game is polished, it’s just not that fun to play.

    To its credit, 2K15 has a lot of content as well. While the unlockable content is not all that great, it’s still there, and there’s a ton of game modes. The game has less game modes than previous entries for some reason, but what’s there is still pretty great. I think the WWE games need a crazy new match type to revive interest.

    WWE 2K15 has a lot of good ideas, but the execution is mediocre at best. The graphics are amazing and the audio design is well done, but changes to the core gameplay creates a wide range of problems not present in previous games. The amount of DLC is insulting, and the lack of an updated roster is inexcusable and disappointing. WWE 2K15 is one of the most disappointing gaming experiences I’ve had all year long, and I doubt even major WWE fans will walk away satisfied.

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