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WWE 2K15 Review

WWE 2K15 is a game at odds with itself. For every progressive step forwards, there's a regressive step backwards. For every improvement, there's a hindrance. For every front-bump, there's a back-bump. People bemoan yearly franchises, but more releases are better than no releases, more so if a game can pull it off. The WWE 2K series, and the preceding Smackdown games normally manage to achieve a release every year without a problem, but 2K15 struggles: when it's great, it harbours the excitement of a Hell in the Cell, but when it's bad it's more Kennel From Hell…

Graphics have been the big update for this year's iteration. Although 2K14 didn't set the ring on fire with its visuals, 2K15 looks and feels next-gen. Character models have been tweaked to almost-perfection in some cases. As an example, John Cena looks like John Cena, albeit a John Cena who's just found out someone finished off all the Fruity Pebbles. His skin texture mimics his real life counterpart, while his muscle definition – complete with veins – looks photo-realistic. But, and here's the kicker, not everyone looks as good as Cena.

For a game that manages to nail Seth Rollins' chip fat-soaked hair, Daniel Bryan sure does look like a hobo with a dirty mop glued to his head. The game succeeds at recreating Bray Wyatt's demonic-spider-walk, complete with melty upside-down hair, but some characters – like sad Vince – remind us all too often this is in fact a video game and not an episode of RAW. 

If you can get past the inconsistent graphics, thankfully the combat's seen a decent improvement. Combat, for a lot of fans, has been one of the series' biggest hurdles to overcome. We've come to accept that we're not getting another No Mercy, and that's fine, but combat in past years often failed to capture the one-of-a-kind excitement of WWE programming. This year's entry makes the bizarre decision to slow combat down, and surprisingly enough, it works.

By slowing moves down, they feel more impactful. Instead of every bodyslam being a scoopslam, it now feels like you're picking up a person and slamming them hard to the mat. Likewise, punch and kick combos have been slowed for the bigger guys, which makes the smaller guys seem much more deadly. Undertaker may take an age to connect a punch, but if it connects, you'll feel it, whereas someone like CM Punk – in comparison – can connect with slaps and shin-kicks more frequently, but for less damage. What's great here is you'll actually want to mix it up instead of picking one moveset to rule them all. Speed or strength finally has a noticeable bearing on matches.

With such an improvement in the combat department, it's odd then that the game doesn't want you to wrestle much. There's a dull affair with a create-a-character rising up through the ranks of NXT and working his way to – actually, the story's too boring to get into. Basically, you've created a wrestler, with skills and moves, then the story mode takes away your moves and stats before forcing you to unlock what you actually want. It's baffling, combat has been slowed to make it more impactful, but by removing stats, your create feels even slower than normal. It could be the generic moveset you're given, but either way he's slow and lifeless – two terms that're hardly befitting an up and coming WWE superstar.

It's not helped by the WWE Developmental stuff, where players challenge jobber after jobber in an empty area with only Bill DeMott's contrived insults to fill the soulless void of what would be a crowd chanting "Boring." That or "Make it stop!" "Make it stop!" "Make it stop!"

"Is this how you'll perform in the WWE," asks DeMott. Well, Bill, let's be realistic here, no one is going to see the story mode through to the end, are they? Are they, Bill? No, Bill, they are not.

So the story mode may be guff, but the 2K Showcase is enjoyable, mostly. For some reason there's only two storyline in this year's entry, but they're two legitimate classics: CM Punk vs John Cena and Triple H vs Shawn Michaels. Matches in Showcase aren't straight up 'Beat X to progress' and instead opt for scripted sections. For example, during the Cena vs Punk match you're told to perform the Randy Savage elbow drop. Only once it's set up, Cena catches Punk, rolls through, and attempts the AA. These scripted events really help with keeping matches fresh and exciting. Not knowing what comes next is part of what makes WWE so captivating, right?

Showcase isn't the only thing that's been nerfed, by the way. Match types have been cut down, which isn't a bad thing considering how many unused match types there were, but the removal of tornado tag is very peculiar indeed. Also, there's no create-a-diva option. Why? Haven't got a clue, and I'm still scratching my head at that one. The removal of useless create gear, or even story-maker mode, does make sense when you're trying to streamline the process and start again on a new console, but WWE 2K15 asks for more for and gives you less.

I still cannot fathom why create-a-diva isn't included…

Moving on slightly, the create-a-character – excluding the obvious missing content – is as fun as ever. Being able to slap WWE Superstar tattoos on creates means you craft your own authentic superstars (although I'm sure it'll mostly be used to make Blutista with the Bella's entrance), complete with ring gear to boot. Amazingly, the removal of crap hair types, and clothes no one ever used makes it far easier to create a superstar that doesn't look terrible. The load times will still drive you mad when all you want to do is a move a logo slightly up a notch, though.

This year also deserves a special shoutout to the online community, who as of writing this, have either found a way to import character models and change their clothes, or have gotten really, really spectacular at making real-world wrestlers. The Shield are still in their combat gear in 2K15, but a quick trip online grants you an almost-identical character model with updated/current outfits.

Here's a picture of a Roman Reigns create vs Roman Reigns.

WWE 2K15 is the PG-era of wrestling games. Sure there's a couple of interesting storylines, some great in-ring action, but it's mostly uninteresting. That said, it shows signs of becoming an improved take on wrestling games, and that has me excited for WWE 2K16. But in the same breathe, is has me wanting more, simply because there isn't enough to begin with. At full price, WWE 2K15 provides less content at a higher price-point, making it hard to justify. It's worth playing if you're a purist after a wrestling game, but if you've come to expect more from a developer that manages to successfully keep its series feeling new year-on-year, WWE 2K15 is Zack Ryder: it's cool and all, but it'll never be main event.

Words by Wesley Copeland.
Twitter: @Wesley_Copeland

(Version Tested: PS4)


+ Stunning visuals
+ Create-a-wrestler has been streamlined
+ Showcase is great


- The stunning visuals highlight other imperfections tenfold
- Create-a-wrestlers has been so streamlined the Divas are missing
- Story mode is really dull

Edited On 27 Nov, 2014

( 2 )
jay.hamilton's avatar
jay.hamilton 2 years ago
been watching my son play it, some bits are realistic, but most look awful, like people wearing lego hair etc, Vince looks like he straight out of smackdown vs raw 2008, I expected a hell of a lot more and was a bit disappointed but my son is happy so its good enough
SquareSofty's avatar
SquareSofty 2 years ago
After completing career twice i can truly say the game is terrible. in increase in stat options are great but the story is horrid. 2k may say the story is 15 years but that is a lie. You play 4 years to win the title and then it skips to year 15 for your retirement match. If you win at Mania it will fast forward right away. My second career I won at Summerslam and was fortunate enough not to be retired right away which let me defend my title. However, you have to defend it every week or it is stripped from you. That is very unrealistic. After time doing a Dark Match Career and a Tune-Up career I discovered Tune-up is more entertaining but you still become OP quickly. I have already sold 2k15 as I usually rely on Universe after other modes but the lack of creation left the game hollow and lifeless. 2 / 10

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