Back in middle school, I watched my fair share of wrestling. Admittedly, though, I’m not too familiar with the latest that’s going on in the male-oriented soap opera. I stopped watching around the time the WWE split up the roster and started the whole superstar draft. So I approached WWE 2K15 with eagerness to see what’s been going on during my absence.
Aside from individual matches, WWE 2K15 offers two formal modes — 2K Showcase and MyCareer, the latter being exclusive to the new-gen (PS4 and Xbox One) versions of the game.
2K Showcase is the “story” mode of sorts; it offers players a look at two major feuds in WWE history: the Triple H-Shawn Michaels rivalry that ran from 2002 to 2004, and the CM Punk-John Cena feud that began the “Reality Era” in 2011. For someone like me, unfamiliar with these storylines, it was great to play them and experience what I had missed. Nostalgia immediately kicked in and I was taken back to a place I enjoyed as a child. In between matches, you’re shown brief video montages or text descriptions that help set the stage. Once in the match, you are given goals to complete that can unlock rewards. The ultimate goal is to win the match, but during it you are given side-tasks that re-create that original experience as it aired on television years ago. It’s a fun mode to play if you want to catch up on or re-experience highlights of WWE history, but it offers little to the players who may not be interested in those storylines. I personally preferred the broader 30 Years of WrestleMania mode and Attitude Era modes from past games in the franchise.
For me, most of my enjoyment came from the MyCareer mode. Who doesn’t want to envision themselves as a professional wrestler? In this mode, you create a wrestler from scratch and progress your career — starting from the NXT tryouts and working your way up to the WWE Pay-Per-View matches. Unfortunately, MyCareer is pretty bland at this point, with little happening to make the experience unique. Sure, there are some rival factions and feuds, but most of the mode is just playing tune-up bouts that aren’t very interesting, and do little to hold your interest or make the experience entertaining. Still, it’ll always be fun for me to create my own wrestler and choose my very own, unique move-set, so I hope MyCareer is something 2K builds on in the future. In WWE 2K15, it’s pretty bland, but it definitely lays the foundation to expand upon in future games.
Gameplay varies depending on the type of wrestler you play as, but overall it’s a very methodical approach that almost plays out like a professional match. When you first start out, both wrestlers find themselves in grapples a lot, forcing you to play a minigame of sorts that determines who establishes dominance. It becomes a back-and-forth dance for a while until the wrestlers begin to take some damage and the moves become a bit easier to perform. Gameplay relies heavily on a counter-system that I found to be very unenjoyable only for the fact that it was so hard to time or predict. If you find yourself on the losing end of those initial grapples, it’s very hard to turn the tables. You basically continue to get your butt kicked until you can successfully time a counter move. The realistic approach to wrestling is welcomed, but I miss the days of fast-paced chaos and mayhem.
Graphically, I didn’t play the last-gen versions so I’m unable to compare the two, but WWE 2K15 does look decent on PS4. With most of the roster having been face-captured, stars like John Cena and Triple H look very close to the real-world counterparts. Wrestler entrances are just as I remember them, with things like Triple H’s classic water-spitting and Kane’s raining fire upon the ring. I will say though, that for accurate as everything is, the wrestlers’ bodies have a bit of a plastic look to them.
WWE 2K15 definitely falls flat in most areas. The roster is outdated, the gameplay slow, and the modes lackusters; but, there's a lot of potential. With the addition of MyCareer mode, we have foundation that can be expanded upon.