One of the earliest disappointments in my life was during the PlayStation era when after asking for a copy (I had an NTSC U/C console) of WWF Warzone, I ended up getting Warzone 2100. I ended up getting WWF Warzone over a month later and absolutely loved every bit of it, including those weird Goldust secret costumes. WWF Attitude improved upon Warzone in almost every way and from then I’ve tried to get my hands on every WWF (Now WWE) game. I even played WCW Backstage Assault.
The PS2 era brought the most popular wrestling game to everyone. Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain is still the game every new wrestling game gets compared to. To this day I don’t get bored playing it. So what happened after that? The Raw vs Smackdown games didn’t do much year after year and the franchise started stagnating. WWE 12 was the first new revamped game that changed almost everything. WWE 13 had the Attitude Era that basically got me interested in playing wrestling games again. It was glorious and brought back way too many great memories. The new controls in 12 and 13 took some time to get used to but something was still missing. WWE 2K14, the first WWE game published by 2K, not only improves upon the previous games, but it nearly brings back the magic of Here Comes The Pain in a more modern setting.
I was really excited about the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode and boy did it deliver.
Before you even launch the game, the PS3 interface plays The Rock’s music, and that is probably the best sign you get to start an epic wrestling game. I was really excited about the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode and boy did it deliver. In most of the old wrestling games, story mode was often a fabricated storyline specifically for the game, but in WWE 13 and 2K14, nostalgia takes the forefront. 30 Years of Wrestlemania (henceforth 30YOWM) lets you play through over 45 historical matches. 2K14 pulls out all the stops. Almost every wrestler’s unique entrance for a specific Wrestlemania has been recreated right up to the ring taunts. Each arena looks phenomenal although the crowds still need a lot a of work. It is annoying to still see three people in the same area wearing the same shirt and doing the same movements.
You’re shown cutscenes in many cases before and after matches or in between to remind you what happened back then. The 30YOWM mode has been split up into different eras. The first one, Hulkamania Runs Wild, focusses on Hogan’s rise and the earliest Wrestlemanias. The New Generation focusses on the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart era in the 90s. The Attitude Era has the classic Stone Cold vs The Rock matches and even The Undertaker vs Kane with Paul Bearer. It is great to see Paul Bearer on the side of one of the brothers of destruction again.
In most cases , quick-time events make you look at the screen for button prompts rather than letting enjoying recreating a classic match.
The Ruthless Aggression era has more matches than previous eras, and the best part is you get to recreate the Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar match with Stone Cold as the special guest referee. As you play through these modes, as with WWE 13, completing historical objectives unlocks wrestlers, arenas and costumes while just finishing the main objective will let you advance through the mode. Some historical objectives were quite annoying because you get such a short time frame for some of them. In most cases , quick-time events make you look at the screen for button prompts rather than letting enjoying recreating a classic match.
I experienced loads of glitches while playing this era, especially in the Goldberg vs Lesnar match. Two attempts at giving Brock a spear made Goldberg disappear and appear on the side of the ring, using up a special move each time. You also see Randy Orton and John Cena rise to the forefront of the WWE in this era. The Universe Era brings the 30YOWM mode to a close with the current crop of superstars like The Miz and CM Punk rising. One of the best matches of all time, Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels is in this era and it brought back some good and sad memories.
I managed defending the streak to 26-0 before the game glitched out on me and had Undertaker stuck outside the ring in a match that doesn’t let you leave the ring.
The Streak mode, which is another highlight of the game, lets you either defend the streak as The Undertaker in a seemingly infinite elimination match until you get pinned or defeat the streak, which is insanely hard as you play as anyone on the roster against The Undertaker in a Wrestlemania arena. The Defeat The Streak mode is great and you absolutely need to practice reversing a lot before even bothering with this, and there’s an awesome easter egg when you think you’re getting close to winning. I managed defending the streak to 26-0 before the game glitched out on me and had Undertaker stuck outside the ring in a match that doesn’t let you leave the ring. You also unlock a special hidden match mode while playing this mode if you reach far enough.
The WWE Universe mode has been improved upon as well, not restricting you as much as before. The ability to control rivalries is pretty epic and they have really put a lot into this mode, but gets boring very quickly unless you’re really patient with it. It is the best wrestling sandbox you can get and as is expected, user created content will make this mode shine. The single player offline mode feels like a letdown after the epic 30YOWM mode.
The AI hasn’t been improved upon at all and you see it in triple threat matches more than anywhere else.
There are some good improvements with reversals and running doesn’t look as fake as it did earlier. Another huge improvement is the ability to perform a finisher after lifting an opponent into the air when they are running towards you on a rebound. This looks epic when you play as The Undertaker against someone like Rey Mysterio. The limb targeting system is also awesome for when you want to play dirty. The AI hasn’t been improved upon at all and you see it in triple threat matches more than anywhere else. Commentary is spectacular in the 30YOWM mode, but fails in single-player mode with a lot of repetition and annoyances. The 30YOWM mode has Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross taking over for the complete mode as opposed to the historical commentators.
Creating a superstar is always awesome in wrestling games. Heck, I created almost the complete attitude era roster in ECW Anarchy Rulz. 2K14 has a boatload of customisation options, as is expected, and the ability to download someone else’s creations is always great because roster holes can always be filled thanks to stuff like this.
WWE 2K14 is the best wrestling game since Here Comes The Pain.
Overall, WWE 2K14 is a solid game, offering enough nostalgia and modes to warrant the asking price. The roster is absolutely spectacular once you start unlocking superstars in the 30YOWM mode and the polish seen in some of the custom Wrestlemania entrances is laudable. This is an end of generation game and I was hoping to see improvements in the AI and also better character models. The models look largely unchanged from last year, albeit with a few necessary changes. Some of the DLC available is plain annoying though. Does 2K really expect people to pay $9 for three NWO superstars? All this stuff should’ve been there from the start. I’m also pretty appalled at some glitches still being there weeks after release. My hopes for a next-generation WWE game are insanely high, but for now, WWE 2K14 is the best wrestling game since Here Comes The Pain. If you consider yourself a fan or have been a fan before, this game is just so worth it and feels like a thank you to the hardcore fans.