When I reviewed WWE ‘13 I said that if they never made another WWE game again, I would be happy. I thought they reached perfection and I should have known I'd eat those words. WWE 2K14 is the first game under the new 2K helm and manages to update the format just enough to make it all worth it. I played last year’s game almost every day until the release of this one and I quickly realized it was more than just a roster update. The team behind these WWE games truly has a love for wrestling and its history. Last year focused on the most popular era of wrestling, the Attitude Era, and did so in a way that felt like the ultimate video game love letter to a wrestling fan. This year is no different but this time it focuses on the spectacle of WrestleMania. With a new story mode that smartly pulls from last year’s already well designed concept, and significant improvements to every other aspect of the game, WWE 2K14 is a great first step with 2K as the new holders of the franchise.
The story mode of WWE 2K14 is called 30 Years of WrestleMania and is built upon the same objective based match idea from the Attitude Era mode from last year’s which was just a lot of fun. You will get to play through all of the significant matches from all of the previous WrestleManias’ and each category of matches has their own video vignette that are well edited and full of great WWE history. Fans of old and new wrestling should really appreciate the detail put into this mode and get a lot of the video packages that go along with it. Looking back to the beginning of WrestleMania also gives us a reason to have some classic legends in the roster like Bret Hart and Yokozuna. On top of the 30 Years of WrestleMania there is also a separate mode called The Streak. The Streak has two different gameplay options. You can play as any superstar and try to take down a very difficult Undertaker to beat the streak, or you can play as Undertaker and run a gauntlet that gets increasingly difficult the farther you get. After finishing either mode the games lets you upload your scores to the leaderboards and compete with your friends or the world.
While the story mode is awesome, the Universe mode is just as great. Universe mode has been the meat and potatoes of the WWE franchise for the last three games and it has been vastly improved from last year. The Universe mode is a yearly schedule of RAW, SmackDown, Superstars, and Pay Per Views. You can play through the weeks and create rivalries that lead into the Pay Per Views and title matches. Sometimes you will be given options of how superstars can react to each other but it’s mostly randomized with the computer. There is now a new rivalry system where you can select two superstars or two tag teams and start a rivalry for a determined length, then each week they will have special events happen during their matches and even have special matches on the Pay Per Views. After it’s all said a done a winner of the rivalry is determined. This is a great addition and adds a lot more life to the Universe mode. The level of customization is still just phenomenal and has been expanded even further. Last year had a very basic customizable title belt option but this year has really goes in depth with the customization and lets you create a title that actually feels original. There have been new items added to the creation suite but it’s not terribly different from last year. You’re still able to create your own show on the Universe mode as well which can be a lot of fun to dive in to.
The gameplay is something that hasn’t really changed much here. They used to introduce a new control scheme every year but luckily they finally nailed down a perfect system that has remain unchanged until now. There are some more priorities put into the character animations that make the game look more realistic and closer to what you see on television. Last year added the OMG Moments which were exciting action pieces you could do around the arena like smashing someone through a barricade or suplexing two heavy characters off the top rope to destroy the ring. All of these moments return with some new ones like holding two characters on your shoulder at the same time or flipping out of the ring. The gameplay is still solid but definitely runs into some hiccups. Characters can react pretty funny to certain contact points and this can lead to some hilarious glitching. The gameplay is nowhere near perfect but still completely fun to play.
Every year it seems like the game looks a little better but with 2K14 I feel like it’s just on par with 13 with many some minor touching up on characters. Some characters whose faces I thought looked a little weird last year look a lot better this year but nothing drastic really stands out. The sound quality is actually much better and there’s a lot of little changed that really only big wrestling fans would notice or care about like the sound the ring makes when someone is slammed down. One nice touch is that when you are playing the old matches in the story mode, the screen has a kind of fuzzy VHS quality to it to match the old film style. Again, you really feel like the people at Yukes just love wrestling.
WWE 2K14 is an amazing wrestling game with very little holding it back. The WWE has a lot of history to dive in to and it only makes me excited to see what the next, fully headed under 2K, WWE game will look like. With a fantastic roster and just greater polish overall, WWE 2K14 is a great addition into the WWE video game franchise and is a must own for any wrestling fan.