Professional wrestling is my guilty pleasure. I don't watch much of it anymore, having quit roughly two decades ago when I watched my last pay-per-view with the so-called Montreal Screwjob between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in 1997. For those who have no love of "athletic theater", that is an interesting story in and of itself.
While wrestling may, itself, be faked, it is a fabulous display of choreographed maneuvers and over-the-top fighting moves. The storytelling is cheesy fun, creating good guys ("faces") and bad guys ("heels") who duke it out in exaggerated melodramas. The energy is intense and, most of all, it is fun.
So why was I hesitant about purchasing this game?
|The motion-capture is staggeringly realistic for most, I repeat most, wrestlers.|
So is it worth it?
Surprisingly, I'll say yes, with a caveat that it drops the ball in places it could have been awesome in. The final result is WWE 2K15 is a very fun game that has a lot going for it but it could have been much-much better with just a few tweaks.
The gameplay is, really, what anyone who purchases this game should be looking at and it's incredibly fun and addictive. Even if you don't know these characters from Adam, I think you'll find this a worthwhile purchase. Just beware about the game's very obvious flaws.
|The in-ring close-ups show a great attention to detail. This is a very pretty game.|
Getting to play a variety of characters and listening to the announcer's commentary throughout is greatly enjoyable. I found myself really enjoying certain characters like Bryan Daniels, John Cena, and Nikki Bella for their varied but easy-to-learn fighting styles.
As you progress through the story, you also get "secrets" about the WWE and this is where the game falls short. Much like Batman: Arkham Asylum, they should have given us biographies of these characters so we knew who they were and their histories. I love that stuff. Here, they just give very short notes about them and their feuds.
|In more ways than one.|
Unfortunately, knowing exactly HOW TO PLAY THE GAME is difficult to figure out. The game gives a "tutorial" which is a complete joke as they don't give you any insight into how to do anything. You have to figure out how to play the game yourself and while this isn't a problem when you're playing WWE Superstars, the My Career Mode is a nightmare. Players should be warned NOT to start with that or they're just asking for trouble.
Speaking of "My Career Mode", it is a joke. Many-many fans would love to simulate creating their own professional wrestler and taking him through a career in the WWE to becoming World Champion. Theoretically, My Career Mode allows you the Punch-Out!-esque experience of doing just that.
|There's a pretty big roster but, surprisingly, I understand this is a downgrade from previous editions.|
The problem is the game assumes you have familiarity with how to play the game from either previous editions or the other modes rather than something you're starting out with. Its storytelling is shockingly weak, too, having the vaguest hint of a rivalry with a character named Barron Blade (the misspelling is deliberate) who forces you to tap out at WWE's tryouts.
Yes, the game starts your power-fantasy character submitting to another's badassitude. Great decision there. There's almost no real story, character interaction, or the colorful personalities from the rest of the game. The game could have easily worked around a silent protagonist but it chooses not to.
It's still fun getting the chance to squash superstars in a match at Wrestlemania but even this is undermined by having to fight the same wrestlers you should be facing at big events in regular matches. Defeating John Cena at Wrestlemania isn't as cool as it could be since you've defeated him a half-dozen times before.
|At the end of the day, it's all about the matches. If that appeals to you, go for it.|
For wrestling fans of the past ten years, there's also a simulation of the feud between CM Punk and John Cena as well as Shawn Michaels with Triple H. I wasn't aware of either but the cutscenes and storytelling in these segments is pretty good. You basically have a dozen+ matches where you re-enact the feud, switching between various wrestlers in it and getting rewards for re-enacting the events.
|The fact the crowds lift customized signs to your superstar is one of the elements I like about this game.|
As flawed as the game is, it manages to capture some of the energy which is inherent to pro-wrestling. My Career Mode was deeply disappointing, though, and I think it would have been better to remove it entirely than do it half-assed the way they did. The quality of the graphics makes up for a lot as does the varied and fun gameplay. For those who just want pure entertainment from their video games, WWE 2K15 is surprisingly addictive. I just wish they'd provided a decent tutorial.
In conclusion, this is very much an acquired taste gameplay-wise but I can't help but admit I've played the crap out of it.
Hell, I even hurt my wrist.