Being the first WWE game under the 2K Games umbrella there are many eyes keen to see what they do with the WWE brand. At EB Expo 2013, we managed to get our hands on WWE 2K14 for an extensive play through of what was on offer. What we witnessed was not just an improvement over previous installments but it could very well be legendary.
The first thing we tried out was the standard exhibition match. Available to play were only a handful of characters ranging from legends of the 80s all the way up to the champions of today. I took the time to play through each character and found myself pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of detail and attention had been given to making each superstar feel wholly unique and distinct from one another. Be it the way Ryback yells ‘wake up’ during his entrance, the way Edge runs his hands through his hair or the way Andre the Giant falls out of the ring, there was diamonds in the details here.
It seems as though 2K have pushed Yukes to greater heights than ever before with WWE 2K14. The game is lavishly rich with detail in the wrestler’s behaviour and actions. On top of that the game is a visual powerhouse, looking slightly more crisper than WWE 13. There was a lovely little detail on older arenas such as Wrestlemania 3. That arena in particular features an old-style grain effect overlayed that gives the vibe of the televised product that many saw all the way back in the 80s. It is a nice touch that goes a long way in terms of building an atmosphere. Once again the finer details are truly important in WWE 2K14.
As far as the gameplay mechanics go, the reversal system has been nicely fine tuned making it not so easy to reverse while also introducing new types of reversals. Rather than reversing out of a move into a hold, you can reverse instantly into a move. This makes the chain of action much more consistent and the flow is not broken.
A new introduction to the combat mechanics is the ability to lift and catch opponents in a move. My favourite instance of this was the catch ‘Shellshock’ move from Ryback. It was fluid and smooth and it looked great. It couldn’t be easier to pull off these moves either, all you have to do is irish whip and opponent and hit LB/L1 depending on your console and you’ll toss them up. Should you have a finisher to catch them in you just hit your finisher button and voila you just shellshocked your opponent hard to the mat. You can also leap from over and opponent of duck under their running through the same process. It’s a nice new addition that adds even more depth the the combat.
The other major addition to this game is the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode. This mode plays out effectively like the Attitude Era mode of WWE 13, with the exception of it focusing on Wrestlemania rather than the Attitude Era. It doesn’t look much different aesthetically to Attitude mode and it plays out in the very same manner. So if you enjoyed the Attitude Era mode you will undoubtedly find a good deal of fun in 30 Years of Wrestlemania, which looks to be a true retrospective of the global phenomenon that is Wrestlemania.
All in all WWE 2K14 looks to the be the finest video-game incarnation of the WWE franchise in a long long time. It improves upon previous installments in small ways that provide a big pay off overall. 2K Games looks to be a great new home for WWE and WWE 2K14 a genuine step forward for a series that often couldn’t do that without taking a step back as well. Could the king finally be back on his throne? I for one think so. Hail to the king, baby!