WWE 2K14 is everything you want from a wrestling game, a body slamming good time with rich storytelling and plenty of nostalgia. But the biggest, and best, feature is the “30 Years of WrestleMania” mode. There is something for everyone in this mode, no matter your age or what era you grew up with. Fans can lace up the boots and relive some of the biggest moments from WWE’s flagship event. Classic matchups featuring Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Randy Orton and John Cena make even the most jaded fan feel like a kid.
The WrestleMania mode is broken up into five sections, “Hulkamania Runs Wild,” “The New Generation,” “The Attitude Era,” “Ruthless Aggression” and “Universe Era,” representing five eras of the WWE, and players participate in historic matches that are given a sense of gravitas due to the strong production values and video packages. The grandiose storytelling of underdogs, giants, impossible odds and dreams coming true is lovingly crafted and sweeping in scope. The “Attitude Era” is barely covered in “30 Years Of WrestleMania” but the move by Yukes was understandable considering the era was the focus of last year’s “WWE ’13.”
Fans can relieve some of the most memorable matches in WrestleMania history including Andre vs. Hulk at WrestleMania III, Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon in a ladder match at WrestleMania X, Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels in a 60-minute Iron Man match, The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania 15 or last year’s The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania XXIX.
Controls are simple enough, strikes, grappling and all that have dedicated buttons, with a touch of complexity. Grappling moves are performed based on directional input, counters can be performed with a timely press of a button and there is limb targeting to set up for submissions.
In addition to the WrestleMania mode, “The Streak” mode lets fans either keep Undertaker’s undefeated streak alive or be the one to end it. It’s fun but serves more as a nod to the legacy of one of WWE’s biggest superstars, minus some of the context that enriches the WrestleMania mode.
Fans can also compete in a variety of matches, singles, tag team, elimination, cage, etc, as well as play a role in managing WWE programming with WWE Universe. Rivalries can be set up between superstars, adding some value and a bit more management from previous iterations of this mode.
The “Create-a-Superstar” mode is perhaps as robust than the WrestleMania mode. WWE2K14 gives you every tool imaginable to create a new character or recreate one from your childhood. Heck, intrepid gamers have also created Marvel superheroes in the game. Arenas, entrances and songs can also be created.
There are some flaws that just seem to be inescapable with these kinds of games. Think the commentary in Madden is inane? Well you are going to have a blast listening to plenty of stock phrases that take away from the mood.
Fans consist of 3 or 4 stock figures which can lead to an interesting sight of 10 dead-eyed clones in purple shirts jumping up and down at the same time. That’s a minor quibble that’s part of a larger problem, that being the lack of production finesse. The commentary issues and sloppy AI, computer-controlled superstars can be zombie-like at times, leaves fans wanting. Considering the great production values in other areas of the game, fleshing out these gripes, as well as making stadiums feel more unique, could really enhance the overall experience.
Overall, as a fan, WWE 2K14 is a fun game to pick up, with plenty of replay value and it is also a fun communal experience. What’s not to like about grabbing a friend and squaring off in a cage match? WWE 2K14 is available for $49 on Amazon.