I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a wrestling fan. I have been since I was a kid and I ain’t about to change now. That fandom means that I’ve been playing WWE video games well before Xbox and PlayStation even existed. Suffice to say I know the WWE 2K franchise pretty well. It’s had some hits and it’s had had some misses. Which way does WWE 2K19 go? Skip to the bottom if you don’t wanna read my poor attempts at writing, read on if you actually wanna know a bit about the game.
If you’re a fan of the WWE 2K franchise you’ll be pleased to know that core gameplay has been largely retained. Tweaks come from a faster paced experience inside the squared circle and simpler submission mini-games. Fans of the Ladder Match will also enjoy hearing that these matches are a hell of lot less random now. The mini-games in a Ladder Match now offer a representation of when you’re going to grab that coveted belt or the briefcase.
In an attempt to freshen up the in-ring action, 2K have implemented a Payback system. The idea is sound but the implementation falls flat. The system is designed to offer perks that can be activated after certain conditions are met in a match and can turn the tide in a tight match. However that combination of needing to meet the conditions and pressing the right buttons gets messy. You see, the buttons can change based on the move you are attempting. The result is that I’ve actually lost matches trying to pull off a Payback move when I should have won it and I suspect I won’t be the only one that happens to.
Showcase mode is back once again and this time around it’s all about the ever popular Daniel Bryan! Daniel Bryan’s career is the sole focus this year and showcase is all the better for it. The amount of detail 2K have packed into Showcase. The moments where Daniel Bryan talks on camera about his career are genuinely candid and endearing and compliment the comprehensive playable journey through his career. You’ll play through his most early days in wrestling right through to his triumphant post-retirement return to in-ring wrestling. The only let down is the commentary, especially playing the early days in Bryan’s career where they talk about future events in his career. Yes we know his story but having commentary that talks about it when you are playing early in his career destroys what is otherwise an immersive journey through his career.
Once again an impressive line-up of wrestlers are included and the baddest woman on the planet, Ronda Rousey is playable, albeit as DLC. Match types are varied as you would expect. You can have a standard match, tag-team, Hell in a Cell right through to the Elimination Chamber and almost everything in between. This is a dedicated WWE game so we’d expect nothing else other than the ability to wrestle in everything the WWE universe offers in terms of matches. The only real downside is that Hell in Cell matches are frustrating, with exiting the cage being overly complicated and weapons having been removed.
MyCareer has taken inspiration from some earlier franchise entries by offering a career mode that continues after you complete the story. It’s a welcome addition that complements the wealth of creation tools on offer. You can continue to upgrade your character, choose your dialogue and much, much more as you keep forging ahead with your WWE career.
For those wanting to interact with more than just Computer AI, online is where you’re going to focus most of your attention. WWE Universe Mode is about as crazy as it gets with its cel shading and old school 8-bit filter. There is a near endless amount of play to be had online, it really needs to be experienced to understand how much is on offer when you connect the game to the
Visuals wise characters still have that slightly plastic look to them but each year the modelling gets better and better. What doesn’t seem to ever get better are the animation bugs that are ever present. It’s a bug bear of wrestling games. Expect more clipping, players snapping into place to do a move and players going through objects (and fists) at times. It’s more funny than anything but it does detract from the experience and takes some polish off an otherwise polished game. I just can’t for the life of me figure out why these bugs never get fixed, PLEASE 2K, fix the bugs.
OK no for the downright rude. Virtual Currency. Yes it’s in there and it’s as intrusive as ever. 2K are definitely going for the “you know we want even more of your money so we’re not even gonna try and hide it” approach. Unless you purchase the accelerator pack, expect to spend a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG time grinding for everything. Yes you can “unlock” content for free by playing the game but the prices set are way too high. Unfortunately buying the Accelerator pack is the cheapest way to unlock everything and whilst that is a compromise it’s still annoying. 2K I’m genuinely calling you out on this, it’s OK to lock content and make people earn the rewards just don’t set the unlock price so effing high. I know you won’t people to pay you more money but give people an effing chance to earn content for free in a more realistic way.
Bugs and not-so subtle attempts to get you to give 2K more money aside, WWE2K19 is the most polished instalment in the franchise to date. There is a wealth of game modes and wrestlers that compliment a satisfying core gameplay in-ring experience. Showcase is all the better for focusing on Daniel Bryan and all things considered WWE remains a Stone Cold Stunner.