17th Nov2017

‘WWE 2K18′ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

wwe-2k18

I’ve been playing WWE video games all my life – from the early days of the NES and the likes of Wrestlemania Challenge, through a myriad of consoles and handhelds, to as recently as WWE 2K16 on the PS4; and in that time the games have changed a LOT. So, after decades of change, why now does it feel like the WWE video game franchise is becoming stale?

Of course it might just be me… You see I have a love/hate relationship with the WWE games, I love playing them but hate losing – and towards the end of my time with WWE 2K16 I felt like I was losing more than winning. Selfish I know but those are the breaks! It’s the same reason why, I feel, that with the modern WWE video games it’s best, generally, to skip a release or two and come back to the franchise with fresh eyes and – hopefully a fresh feeling game. However, having skipped 2K17 after falling out of love with the previous years release I’m not getting that same sense of “newness” from WWE 2K18.

In fact WWE 2K18 feels like an super-large DLC pack rather than a new game…

Maybe the developers have reached a plateau, maybe there’s nothing more to add to make this the “wrestling simulation” fans want? Perhaps it’s time to reinvent the genre entirely and go in a different direction? Maybe not. They tried that with WWE All Stars and look what happened there – one of my favourite WWE titles of the modern era that many hated because it was too arcade-like.

But back to WWE 2K18.

Once again 2K Games have updated the roster of characters available, bringing some of the greatest new names on the WWE to life in digital form – along with some old-school classic wrestlers as per usual – in what is undoubtedly the biggest roster of WWE superstars to ever grace a video game. And much like the face of the WWE has changed, with a greater emphasis on both men’s and women’s wrestling, so does WWE 2K18. And being able to play as some of the best women of WWE TV? It’s bliss (pun intended).

One major change this time round are the graphics. Thanks to a new graphics engine, the roster of WWE superstars look even more like their real-life counterparts… For the most part. There’s still the odd wrestler that still doesn’t quite look as good as they should, and some of the women, sadly, have this worse… *cough* Nia Jax *cough* Also added to WWE 2K18 is the ability to FINALLY be able to pick up your opponent and carry them around before slamming, power-bombing, etc., them in the canvas – or out of the ring! TO be honest, it’s something that should have been a feature of the WWE games years ago…

Other than the odd tweak, the game modes haven’t changed much since previous iterations. Universe mode plays out exactly the same as previously – with the promo system (added in 2K17) making another appearance here. And considering I skipped last years game, the entire promo system was actually a refreshing new experience. Although it does, at times, seem a little vague and picking the next line or taunt during a promo felt like something of a guessing game – though having watched plenty of WWE TV over the years, picking the best lines to string together a high-scoring promo did seem somewhat easy.

The reversal system, which annoyed the hell out of me in WWE 2K16, seems to have been tweaked somewhat – whilst it did feel that out of the gate, sans adjusting the difficulty meters etc., reversing moves was more difficult this time round; once some adjustments were made it felt like a much more balanced system and greatly improved my experience with the game this time round.

I’m not going to touch on the MyCareer mode or the Road to Glory here. Why? Because, honestly, I’ve always felt that beyond creating some stupid looking characters and/or making wrestlers who look like other pop culture icons or wrestlers missing from the games roster, the career modes within the WWE 2K games were too laborious, and experiencing them again for this review did nothing to change my mind – in fact the MyCareer mode felt even more RPG-like than ever before. And I hate RPGs. Oh and those “loot boxes”? If you’ve played any of the WWE mobile games you’ll be well-versed in how they work and how random the results can be… Good luck with that.

Despite a wider, more varied, roster, improved graphics and some improved gameplay mechanics WWE 2K18 isn’t that different from what has come before. If, like me, you’ve skipped a game or two, then this iteration is worth adding to you collection if only to experience the new superstars added to the roster. And FYI: Bobby Roode’s entrance is just as glorious digitally as it is in real life!

WWE 2K18 is out now.

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