When THQ embarked on the ambitious path of releasing 28 WWE licensed video games over the course of the last 14 years, the publisher seemed committed to bringing fans the definitive wrestling game experience each time around. Starting with the release of 1999’s WWF WrestleMania 2000 and ending with last year’s WWE 13, THQ had succeeded in creating their fair share of certifiable hits and horrible misses.
When the now defunct studio decided to sell their WWE licensing rights to Take-Two Interactive, many 2K fans hoped that this change would reinvigorate the series. Unfortunately, WWE 2K14 is a game that feels like it’s stuck in midcard hell and only succeeds in reminding us all that Take-Two has quite a bit of work left to do to keep this franchise fresh.
Before diving deep into the negative aspects of WWE 2K14, I did want to take the time to acknowledge a few of the positives. Typically, most wrestling fans that grew up watching the sport find sentimental value in those carefree times of their lives. THQ’s decision to cater to those people was applauded when they included the Attitude Era mode in WWE 13. With this year’s release, they took a massive step forward and created what is arguably their best game mode to date in 30 Years of WrestleMania.
This entertaining mode allows players to experience 30 years worth of WrestleMania moments from some of the greatest wrestlers to ever enter the squared circle. A portion of the video promos, presentation settings, and the series of events leading up to each moment are insanely well documented and satisfying to experience. While not every single WrestleMania match is accounted for, most of the significantly historical ones are, instantly making this mode alone worth the price of admission.
Another positive worth mentioning lies in the addition of The Undertaker inspired Streak Mode. Any and every WWE fan knows all about the Deadman’s unrivaled 21-0 WrestleMania winning streak. In WWE 2K14, players are given the ability to either defend or defeat the streak. Choosing to defend the streak will result in the player having to fend off waves of challengers one by one. Alternatively, deciding to defeat the streak pits players against an amped up version of The Undertaker. Overall, this mode is a lot of fun and offers a reasonable replay value for some.
Rounding out the list of positives, the WWE Universe mode has received some noteworthy fixes. Players actually have a little more control over the mode now and can use the brand new rivalry system to create feuds between their favorite superstars. Custom themes, created belts, and logos can be added to spruce up any and every Raw, SmackDown, or PPV event. Finally, tournaments such as The King of The Ring have also been added to keep the experience exciting from beginning to end.
While all of the positives mentioned above may sound promising, every conventional critic knows that there are bound to be some negatives. In the case of WWE 2K14, those negatives show up in the crucial areas of graphics, gameplay, and sound. Character models are not only outdated, but they are virtually the same as they were in WWE 13. The exact same argument can be made about the overall gameplay experience as both the control aesthetics and collision detection mechanics are still spotty at times. The computer AI remains inconsistent in every match and the absurd amount of reversals has returned in true frustrating fashion. The online modes are even back with the only difference being that the servers are a little more stable this time around.
When it comes to sound, the commentary was insanely repetitive and for the most part is a carbon copy of last year. One new issue that I encountered this time around was sound disappearing completely during some cutscenes. There would be instances were a ring announcer would be in the ring announcing a special main event match with the exception that you would never hear his voice. Just to clarify, if you’ve ever played WWE 13 and encountered any graphical hiccups or setbacks, then you should be forewarned now that these same issues do popup again in WWE 2K14.
When analyzing the game’s meaty roster, there is a serious amount of inconsistencies across the board. For starters, some wrestler intros are pretty efficient while others remain outdated and laughingly bad. While players do have the ability to edit these intros, they never really feel truly authentic when it comes to the real thing. Furthermore, some wrestlers offer unique sound bytes in their intros. While this is a cool concept, it is for the most part half-assed because it doesn’t apply to particular wrestlers as it should. Having a superstar like CM Punk orchestrate his “It’s Clobberin Time” chant only to never hear him actually say it seems like an afterthought and a missed opportunity by the developers.
Lastly, even though the season pass promises to offer a few more superstars, I still find it disappointing that RVD, Bray Wyatt, the Usos, and current IC champ Curtis Axel aren’t being planned as future DLC. This wouldn’t be a big deal if 2K weren’t the ones publishing this game. NBA 2K14 fans are treated to constant updates every time a roster change or new team outfit is released. Going by this logic, 2K owes it to the hardcore WWE fans to keep this game as up-to-date as possible.
By all accounts, everything that I mentioned about isn't horrible but it does put noticeable blemishes on a game that should be far better than it actually is. THQ’s recent WWE game releases have been just shy of being decent. In the case of WWE 2K14, this trend continues and it’s especially disappointing because 2K Sports is the one publishing this game. In theory, they have more than enough to turn this series from a contender to a champion. Perhaps WWE 2K15 will get the series back to it’s championship form, but for now this franchise just feels like its stuck in midcard hell.
This review was based on a retail copy of WWE 2K14 for the Xbox 360.