Up Up Down Down: WWE 2K14
With WrestleMania 30 now behind us, it's only fitting that we take a look at WWE 2K14. After all, that game does celebrate the 30-year history of the sports entertainment spectacle. I'm also on this sort of WrestleMania rush, so I've been having a hard time talking about anything other than wrestling and playing anything other than wrestling games.
Personally, I really enjoyed WWE 2K14, as indicated by my review of the game late last year. It's an all-around solid grappler that's fun to play alone, but even better with friends. It's definitely an entertaining game to play either way, though it's not without a few noticeable flaws.
Up Up: Revisiting classic moments in 30 Years of WrestleMania mode
For a lot of fans, part of what makes wrestling so great is all of the historic nostalgia surrounding it. Great moments with the Undertaker, Edge, and Shawn Michaels from WWE's past are never forgotten. The 30 years of WrestleMania mode in WWE 2K14 embraces the company's history by letting you not only relive but also act out several memorable moments from throughout the past three decades. I said it in my review last year, but it begs to be mentioned again: For the WWE diehard, 30 Years of WrestleMania alone is worth the game's asking price.
Down Down: The Streak mode is a distraction at best
The Streak is an optional component found in the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode that's centered around the legacy of the Undertaker. You can choose to defend the the Deadman's WrestleMania undefeated streak against endless opponents in a gauntlet match or chase after the streak against a powered up Phenom. Admittedly, The Streak plays second fiddle to the main 30 Years of WrestleMania mode. It's also worth mentioning that at WrestleMania 30 the Undertaker's glorious undefeated streak came to an end at an impressive 21-1 at the hands of Brock Lesnar, rendering this mode obsolete and outdated.
Up Up: Universe Mode is as good as it's ever been
When you're not playing 30 Years of WrestleMania, it's probable that you're enjoying the hell out of Universe Mode. If you remember keeping track of heated rivalries and championship bouts on a notepad when playing older wrestling games, this feature essentially eliminates that practice. Universe Mode lets you assign champions, set up rivalries, and manage match cards. You can tweak the existing rosters for both Raw and SmackDown or create your own and build a wrestling company as you see fit. It's cool and gives you practically full control over your gameplay experience, essentially turning you into both a general manager and a participant.
Down Down: Playing online pales in comparison to playing with friends locally
If you're looking to jump online to play with other WWE fans, you'll be glad to know that this time around the online multiplayer component isn't as laggy as the previous game's. (At least that was the case the last time I played a few months ago.) Even then, playing with strangers through Xbox Live or PlayStation Network just isn't the same as playing against your buddies. This especially holds true considering the fact that you can enjoy Universe Mode with other players in local multiplayer.
Up Up: All the modes you like in wrestling games are present here
Pretty much every gimmick match type that matters is included in WWE 2K14. You can pull off high-flying antics in TLC matches, settle a feud within the confines of a steel cage, or brave the odds in the Elimination Chamber. Outside of the actual match types, you can also create Superstars, championship belts, storylines, and rings. Sure, these are all options we've seen in wrestling games before, but if you're worried about a lack of features, that's definitely not the case here.
Down Down: The sound design is garbage
Sound has never been the strong point of the WWE games. Whether it's terrible trash rock in WWE Day of Reckoning or heinous commentary in, well, pretty much every WWE game, there's simply no way of ignoring the poor sound in these titles. This time it seems as though Yuke's went out of its way to make a game that sounds especially hideous. As if Jerry “The King” Lawler and Michael Cole's in-game commentary wasn't bad enough, crowd reactions are absolute garbage. You're better off doing commentary and crowd noise yourself. It's not like imitating Jim Ross is that difficult anyway.
Left Right Left Right: WWE 2K14 is awfully familiar but undeniably fun
If you're completely content with WWE '13, 2K Sports' first publishing foray into the world of wrestling games isn't necessarily a must-play. That said, if you already buy wrestling games on an annual basis, you won't be disappointed because WWE 2K14 features everything you enjoy about the series plus a few nice bonuses and tweaks. In addition, 30 Years of WrestleMania is a sheer nostalgic joy and a must for WWE fans. Familiarity notwithstanding, this is an undeniably entertaining rasslin' game.
Author's note: I'd like to dedicate this edition of Up Up Down Down to the memory of The Ultimate Warrior, who sadly passed away three days following his induction in the WWE Hall of Fame, and just one day after he delivered a riveting speech to fans on an episode of WWE Raw. The spirit of the Warrior will indeed run forever. Thanks and rest in peace.
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