WWE 2K14: The Streak puts Undertaker's perfect WrestleMania record on the line

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The Undertaker is one of the most respected individuals in the history of professional wrestling. Not surprisingly, his legendary undefeated streak at WrestleMania is among the most talked about runs in sports entertainment, and it's arguably above the WWE Championship itself. WWE 2K14 will honor the spectacle of the Deadman with its brand new mode The Streak. Dubbed “a mode within a mode,” you can access The Streak while in the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode, which pays tributes to the biggest event in all of wrestling.

During a conference call with WWE 2K14 Creative Director Cory Ledesma, I had the opportunity to gain some major insight on this upcoming feature. The Streak includes two different options, with one being Defend the Streak. This option puts you in the boots of the Phenom himself and tasks you with defending the undefeated streak. You take on opponent after opponent in a gauntlet-style match-up, and your health carries over to each successive bout. When you eventually face defeat, you can upload your score to the leaderboard and see how well you stack up against others.

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The second option is Defeat the Streak, which places you as the aggressor attempting to claim the Undertaker's iconic WrestleMania reign as any WWE Superstar of your choosing. A new difficulty has been created specifically for this option, making the Undertaker impressively tough to take down. As if that wasn't enough, he can use his supernatural powers to shut off the lights and pull off other tricks just when you think you've got the edge, effectively turning the tables. This option also features a scoring system, as well as unlockables should you defeat the Undertaker as someone he's beaten in actual past WrestleMania events.

In addition to The Streak, Ledesma detailed the major changes coming to Universe mode during the call. First is the Rivalry Manager, which lets you create three big feuds per show (singles or tag team). You choose the participants and set the length of each rivalry, and you have more control over your Universe experience. WWE 2K14 tracks your Universe stats and uses smarter booking AI to create matches that make sense. It also includes new storylines based on feuds and other situations. Considering this is one of the most popular modes in the WWE games, it's great to know that these changes are being implemented.

Customization is more prevalent than ever in Universe mode. You can set up any show on any given week, make an all-Diva show (never-before-seen in WWE games), and even import your custom championships. In the past, you were able to customize some aspects of Universe mode, but this time around, control is being put almost entirely in your hands, making you both a participant and a booker, which is pretty cool.

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Over the course of the past several installments, WWE games have been a bit slow-paced. WWE 2K14 features a handful of overhauls to its various mechanics. For starters. match pacing is now much quicker. Character movement — walking, running, climbing, and dragging — are pulled off a lot faster. Strikes such as punches and kicks are also much quicker to pull off, so while they may not dish out loads of damage, they can certainly throw off your opponents in a much more effective manner than before.

The last couple of WWE games had reversal systems that could potentially see players countering move after move and even performing chain counters ad nauseam. This time around, you can reverse a move and go directly into a counter, thus eliminating that ridiculous and pesky series of useless reversals with absolutely no payoff.

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I was curious about how much input the development team had from the actual wrestlers, so I asked Ledesma if there was any participation from the WWE Superstars. I was told that the devs get a surprising amount of input from WWE's many stars in order to add to the game's authenticity. So sometimes a wrestler would point out that maybe a move animation should be tweaked a bit to look more like its real-life counterpart. Mark Henry, for example, wasn't too happy about his attribute points, which makes total sense considering he's the World's Strongest Man.

Though the WWE brand of video games has still been pretty good over the last several years, it's no secret that previous publisher THQ relied too heavily on familiarity for its mechanics. With 2K Sports at the helm, it's going to be interesting seeing how longtime series dev Yukes reinvigorates the franchise. The changes that are coming are pretty exciting, and we'll know for sure just how WWE 2K14 plays when it launches for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 29.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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