With 2K taking over the WWE license from the now defunct THQ, last year’s WWE 2K14 surprised everyone with the sheer amount of roster spots, a focus on wrestling legends and the best matches across 30 years of Wrestlemania along with an improved creation suite. WWE 2K15 marks the first cross-gen game for Yuke’s, and it was obvious the last generation versions received a bare minimum effort. WWE 2K15 is a hollowed out memory of what WWE games used to be, taking giant leaps backwards in just about every possible area.
All of the improvements that 2K has been promoting for this year’s game are no where to be found. The facial scanned updated character models are exclusive to the PS4 and Xbox One. Some of the wrestlers look okay (mostly the characters not recycled from last year), but many have freakish features making it hard to classify them as human. Collision detection has also taken a step backwards as you’re more likely to experience the hilarious contorting of limbs and unnaturally stretching ring ropes. Not to mention, anytime you grab the ring bell, it is grafted to your characters wrist, instead of being held.
Gameplay mechanics are largely unchanged, featuring fast strikes and the same animations that have plagued the series for years. Although there are new moves and some new animations, the vast majority of content has been recycled. With the yearly cycle of WWE games pumped out by Yuke’s, it is concerning that content from years prior has been removed. The roster amount is by far the smallest and least diverse group in years. The inclusion of a few of the NXT stars are a welcome addition, but many Superstars have been left off the roster. There should be no reason to have multiples of any character when different outfits are a viable option for different styles/looks. With most of my time been spent playing as Legends in the past couple games, it was disheartening to see the lack of characters.
A big part of WWE games since the very first Smackdown title was the customization which was improved from last year. Features of the customization options did not make it into this year’s game. Gone is the ability to create your own finisher, design your own storyline, import your own music and use generic entrances. Superstar heads from last year have been rotated out with new ones, which begs the question why content is removed/replaced each year? If you plan to download created Superstars without uploading your own, you’ll be limited to 10 downloads per day.
Replacing 2K14’s 30 Years of WrestleMania, the 2K Showcase mode allows players to feature two different rivalries; Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels and CM Punk vs John Cena. Neither of these are noteworthy as they are littered with Raw and Smackdown matches that had very little consequence on the rivalry. The video package that plays between matches however is enjoyable if you have any interest in the feuds. The last-gen exclusive Who Got NXT mode focuses on five NXT Superstars through four matches, but it doesn’t feel as compelling as the 2K Showcase mode. You’ll notice that Rusev and Bo Dallas are included in the five, even though they are no longer in the NXT developmental territory.
It’s not all negative for WWE 2K15 however, as the commentary from both Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole has been improved due to the amount of newly recorded lines of dialogue. There will still be plenty of repeating phrases from previous titles. The crowd noises are unnatural, with a constant bland sporting event background noise that has been reused numerous times. They even had the desire to boo everyone in the Royal Rumble (even the announcer). Making matters worse, the sound effects in the ring will desync at random moments.
WWE 2K15 manages to remove more content than it added to this year’s offering. 2K Showcase pales in comparison to the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode, and the smaller roster and missing features is inexcusable. This may be the buggiest release for a WWE game this generation. Unless you have to play as the handful of NXT Superstars, WWE 2K15 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is a cruel joke to any fan of the series.Note: WWE 2K15 (PS3) was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A physical copy of the game provided by the publisher.