WWE 2K15 has finally arrived on PC, having been out on consoles since last October. The computer version adds all of the game's downloadable content into a single package, making it great value. But has the delay between releases damaged the appeal of this port?
The main event
WWE fans will probably already know the story behind this game. The hope was that, with 2K Sport now on board, the franchise would be undergoing a long-awaited overhaul. Completely new animation, voices, and character models were at the heart of this renovation wish list.
Unfortunately this is not what fans of WWE received. Instead, 2K Sports bought in Visual Concepts (developers of their NBA titles) to give the game a good polish and face lift – but left the underling faults. The result being a game that looks great until you start playing. Now, don't take that the wrong way – WWE 2K15 still plays as well as WWE 2K14, the problem is fans had been anticipating more.
That said, this new installment does add a few new gameplay twists that could indicate the direction future refinements may take. This includes a grapple mechanic (usually only seen near the start of a fight), that has you take part in a rock-paper-scissor style mini game. This is then followed by a more delicate interaction with the right stick to find the sweet spot faster than your opponent, creating some nice up-close tension. It looks good if you happen to be a viewer – but as a player you get so caught up in winning that you miss much of the fluid back and forth this creates.
From there it is business as usual. The same precise grapple, strike, counter mechanics are all in play – and still demand the patient timing that franchise fans know and love. This usually works well against single opponents with you building momentum and controlling the pace of the match.
However, it doesn't take long to start seeing the problems. Being out of place as you execute a move has your Super Star flailing around preposterously, while fighting more than one opponent will all too often have you locking on to the wrong competitor. At times this is simply an inconvenience, but if you are going for a pin and instead lock on to a different competitor, it can become a game losing annoyance.
My real complaints regarding WWE 2K15 stem from what is missing in this release over 2K14, or the earlier console release.
2K14 featured a single player campaign that took you through 29 years of Wrestlemaina in preparation for Wrestlemania 30. This year that mode has been replaced by two rivalry story lines: Degeneration X’s collapse, and Cena and CM Punks blowout. This works well if you are a fan of any of these characters, but lacks the iconic nature of last year's game, resulting in a weaker solo experience. Fortunately, if you are playing alone, the more rounded career mode that takes you up through the ranks of the WWE’s NXT developmental league does make up for this a little.
The other mode that is notably absent from WWE 2K 15 is the story creator. While I rarely had the patient for this myself, seeing other people's creations will be missed (until the mod community gets their hands on it at least).
My final problem WWE 2K15 is that in the time since it came to console, story lines in the show have moved on considerably. Thus, characters in the game seem oddly misplaced compared to their current standing. Take Cesaro, who is given a rating of 93 (one of the highest in the game) but is currently languishing in the tag-team division with Tyson Kid. The one plus side to this is that CM Punk still puts in an appearance – straight edge fans take note, this will probably be the last time he appears in a WWE game roster.
A B+ player
WWE 2K15’s greatest sin is that it has taken the wrong first half step. I suspect fans would have been happier with last year’s visuals, and more effort placed on animations and modes. This makes it the same game as last year - only better looking. That said, maybe next year will see 2K Games committing to continue down the road they have started on. Some new performance capture could go a long way to breathing life into the visually impressive character models already seen in this year’s game.
And, maybe next year we could also see the PC version be released in a more timely fashion. Please?