Gamescom 2013: WWE 2K14 Hands-On Preview – Wo-wo, wo-wo! WrestleMania!
Written Tuesday, September 03, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Yukes has been churning out rock solid WWE titles for years, with the finest create-a-character known to man and a grappling system that's gradually evolved with each iteration. This year sees Yukes taking the reins on the first WWE game following the demise of THQ, and although the title has changed a tiny bit, inheriting a number '2' and the letter 'K', it's very much business as usual for WWE 2K14.
Is that such a bad thing? Well, no not really. There's nothing inherently wrong with the core mechanics that have made Yukes' WWE franchise a hit over the last decade or so, and WWE 2K14 seems like it could be yet another fine entry in the series, with its new '30 Years of WrestleMania' campaign offering something for even the most casual of wrestling fans. And for die-hard grapple fans, this might just be the most exciting iteration yet.
We'd count ourselves in the former camp these days, but during our halcyon school days, Hulkamania was a big deal, Ultimate Warrior had emerged from 'Parts Unknown' to rule the WWE (or WWF as it was then known) and the Undertaker wore a big hat. We were huge fans. The Rock, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz et al were nowhere to be seen, and American wrestling was beginning to find its way into playground debates. 30 Years of Wrestlemania brilliantly taps into that very nostalgia, giving players the opportunity to relive some of the greatest moments from the biggest event on the WWE calendar.
Wrapping our 24-inch pythons (as if) around the new mode, we kick off with a classic bout between the legendary Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan from the 'Bigger! Better! Badder!' WrestleMania III back in 1987. As well as being bookended by the whole backstory leading up to the big event itself, each match is presented in the style of the time, so saturated colours and lo-fi TV graphics are in, while ring entrances are less flashy and overblown. In the ring, the theatrics are still as exciting as ever, and re-enacting certain key moments from the actual match unlocks short cut-scenes based upon what happened for real, complete with accompanying audio.
Hooked and utterly addicted to the mode right out of the gate, we choose to play through last year's WrestleMania XXVIII, in which a hooded Undertaker entered the ring and revealed a new mohawk haircut to fight Triple H with Shawn Michaels serving as referee in a Hell in a Cell match billed as 'the end of an era'. This is one part of a two-parter, with the main event between The Rock and John Cena also available to play as part of WrestleMania XXVIII. Again, there are actual video cut-scenes taken from the big show (not the Big Show) itself framing the action, and in the ring, you'll find that the gameplay is very much like WWE '13.
We round off our hands-on session by heading back in time once again to WrestleMania VI - 1990's massive match-up between The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan - and really put the mechanics through their paces, striving to win the match as Warrior. At the heart of the game is pinpoint timing with the right trigger to turn the tide in your favour, while grappling and strikes are still assigned to the face buttons. As we've already said, it plays almost identically to WWE '12 and '13. You can still wear down specific body parts, with a gauge popping up for a second to show you which bit you've punished the most. The rest of the on-screen furniture has been pared down for the authentic WWE experience, although we imagine you'll be able to turn on meters, bars and whatever else you want on the screen.
It's promising when you have to force yourself to put down the controller and walk away from a game, and WWE 2K14's 30 Years of WrestleMania mode had us having to do just that. It seems that this year Yukes is onto something special, pitching the grappling systems just right once again, and providing a single-player campaign mode that WWE fans of all kinds will want to regularly dip into to relive their favourite WrestleMania moments from the last three decades. Factor in the swathe of superstars past and present, including Macho Man, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin and a multitude of other favourites, and you have the makings of a damn fine wrestling game. It is essentially the same old WWE all over again, but when the package is as comprehensive and playable as it is year in, year out, it's a fairly difficult proposition to pass up. Couple all of the usual trimmings with the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode, and WWE 2K14 could quite possibly be the best WWE title to date. And that's the bottom line, cuz Stone Cold said so. Probably.
WWE 2K14 is out on 29th October in North America and November 1st internationally.