It‚Äôs been a long year for both Yuke‚Äôs and WWE Games; their former publisher (THQ) went broke, and the WWE license got auctioned off to 2K‚Äôs parent company Take-Two. Yet, it doesn‚Äôt seem to have affected the development of this year‚Äôs game one bit. This is still very much a Yuke‚Äôs WWE game - in some ways, that's great, but in others...
WWE 2K14‚Äôs main modes are the 30 Years of WrestleMania, and The Streak modes. In the latter, you can defend - or try to break - The Undertaker‚Äôs legendary winning streak with currently available wrestlers; breaking it with specific wrestlers will unlock variations of the Undertaker. Unfortunately, The Undertaker is incredibly cheap in this mode; he reverses almost every move you try. Moreover, neither the reversal settings, nor the difficulty settings, apply.
The 30 Years of WrestleMania mode is slightly easier. It spans five eras of WWE‚Äôs history, from Hulkamania through to the Universe era - it‚Äôs quite a history lesson. Whether you want to or not, playing through this mode is the only way to unlock almost half of the roster. In addition, unlocking the legends requires that you play out the match according to how they played out historically. Some of the requirements are more difficult than others, but all of them are reasonably fun to attempt and the game gives you a useful tip at the start of each match.
As I was playing through the 30 years of WrestleMania mode, I came across a glitch which left me performing at a weird angle, thanks to the game's camera getting locked in the "finisher". Turning off camera cuts will let you avoid this glitch, but it was disappointing to see something so jarring made it through the QA process.
Universe mode makes a return with a new rivals feature; you can play out, create, and manage feuds between wrestlers. They can be between either single wrestlers or tag teams. Although you can only have a few rivalries on either show at once, simply adding them makes the shows more accurate to the WWEs' weekly programming.
The main roster is missing some current wrestlers who were in WWE ‚Äô13, most notably The Usos who are real life relatives of Yokozuna, and Roman Reigns. On the legends side it‚Äôs missing Rowdy Roddy Piper ‚Äď who feuded with Hulk Hogan. Moreover, the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode had potential to bring back various tag teams of yesteryear who have yet to appear in a 3D WWE title, such as The Rockers - it would have been nice to see Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels teaming together once again. That said, it‚Äôll still appeal to fans of the Hulkamania era, with the likes to of Randy ‚ÄúMacho Man‚ÄĚ Savage, Andre The Giant, ‚ÄúThe Million Dollar Man‚ÄĚ Ted DiBiase, Hulk Hogan, and The Ultimate Warrior (if you pre-ordered, and if not, he should be available as DLC eventually.)
As with previous games, the commentary is full of errors. Quite often you‚Äôve got one announcer calling a move the correct name, while the other miscalls it, and in other cases they miscall a move entirely. On the up side, the errors make it more in-line with the TV commentary.
Speaking of realism, the wrestlers still look like action figure versions of their real life counterparts. It allows Yuke‚Äôs to take liberties with many of the old school stars who were on the ‚Äėplus size‚Äô side, such as Andre the Giant, who looks fit compared to what his real world counterpart was - in that period at least. In addition, Yuke‚Äôs has gone to incredible lengths to give the early WrestleMania arenas a retro feel. Matches are presented with a picture fuzzing effect, so it appears as though you‚Äôre watching them on an old analogue TV.
Gameplay-wise, WWE 2K14 suffers from the same problems as WWE ‚Äô13 - reversals are almost impossible to pull off, with a short execution window you either are too quick (or too slow) for, while the opponent AI can pull them off easily. To mitigate this, you can turn down reversal rate settings for the AI. However, it doesn‚Äôt affect the Undertaker‚Äôs streak mode, so he will continue to reverse every move you try. Other glitches can occur in hardcore matches if an AI opponent grabs a ladder and gets stuck on the announcer table.
The creation mode has been expanded. It features more moves than last year, including the much-touted ‚Äėbooster‚Äô finishers, where you lift an opponent up in the air and hit a move as they come down. If you are feeling too lazy to create one, you can either download from a pool of thousands of user created content or load a template in creation mode (it even has a gorilla suit!)
Overall, WWE 2K14 isn‚Äôt a huge improvement over WWE ‚Äô13. It does a great job of representing the events of past WrestleManias, however, packing a roster that has almost as many legends as modern superstars - it might even rely too much on nostalgic appeal.