WWE 2K15 review: the ebb and flow of wrestling is better than ever but major features are missing

PS4, Xbox One; 2K Games; £59.99

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The Independent Tech

WWE 2K15 brings the WWE Universe into the uncharted realms of next-gen for the first time. Yet bizarrely, for all of the additional power and potential the latest generation of consoles bring, WWE 2K15 is as much defined by what it doesn’t have to show for its revolutionary new take on the squared-circle as much as what it does.

Back in August when the WWE held a roster reveal event most, myself included, felt that this was surely only scratching the surface of the roster’s true depth. It seems this wasn’t the case however, as the game’s meager line-up is missing not only a swathe of WWE legends, but also several of the company’s currently active combatants. With the equally notable absence of multiple match types, a story creator, create-a-championship, create-a-finisher and the ability to upload custom soundtracks among other features, WWE 2K15 is a significantly less comprehensive package than last year’s 2K14.

Thankfully, those superstars that do make the strict cut finally look like their real-life counterparts rather than uncanny waxwork recreations of human anatomy. While several stars are still sporting outfits and personas that have long since become outdated – having The Shield still appear in riot gear feels wrong after what that dastardly so and so Seth Rollins did – facial and in-ring animations have been impressively brought to life by the developer’s extensive use of motion capture.

The gameplay too has seen an equally dramatic face lift with increased focus on the ebb and flow of a modern wrestling bout. Rather than having a heavyweight behemoth like Mark Henry handle and perform the same way as a cruiserweight high-flyer like Rey Mysterio, WWE 2K15’s new grappling mechanics vary depending on the wrestler you pick. While Brock Lesnar can run in and start German Suplexing ad nauseum, a more technical wrestler begins a match with a rock-paper-scissors lock-up system that works well to recreate the early, tentative stages of a WWE main event. As the match progresses this approach is abandoned in favour of careful stamina management where every move and motion affects your chosen superstars’ gradually regenerating energy meter. Overzealous players may find themselves ready to floor their opponent in a dramatic finish only to fall to their knees, unable to crawl over to their lifeless adversary and secure a crucial pinfall. It’s an innovative system that on occasion falls foul of having two muscle-bound monsters staggering helplessly around the ring, but it mostly succeeds in revolutionizing the series’ previously unsatisfactory weightless scuffles.

Despite the numerous cut-backs found throughout the game’s Exhibition and WWE Universe modes, the new MyCareer and WWE Showcase options offer more content than last year’s outing. MyCareer, aside from suffering from a few meaningless, stat-grind heavy, story-free bouts, lets you create your own wrestler and take him all the way from the developmental grounds of NXT all the way to the main event of Wrestlemania. WWE Showcase on the other hand, focuses on established legendary feuds with real-life recorded vignettes and specific match requirements ambitiously recreating some of the most epic encounters ever seen in the WWE’s annals.

While the missing features are a major disappointment, especially for those used to micro-managing their roster and custom universe until the dawn of the next game in the franchise, WWE 2K15 improves the in-ring experience to a degree that lays the foundation for a solid future for 2K’s annual series. Not a TKO then, but WWE 2K15 is by no means a count out.

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