It’s been a tough few years for WWE games, they have been clunky and frankly not that fun to play, thankfully it seems we have turned a corner with WWE 2K19, however there is still plenty to work on.
The first thing I noticed was how much the presentation has improved, from the menus and UI to the in-ring action, it feels more polished than it ever has. It’s a quicker game too, loading seems to have reduced and the wrestlers seem to be more fluid, even when the are 4+ opponents in the ring.
Secondly, there is a huge amount of content in the game. I spent hours just playing in the entrance maker, customising how my newly created wrestler, Y2Dave would make his entrance before a match. The is a big level of detail here, from letting choose your music, to deciding how the pyrotechnics appear on stage. You can even edit existing wrestlers entrances, my favourite was having Brock Lesnar enter the stage to Bailey’s song, while mimicking her moves. It was actually quite disturbing to watch. Another new feature this year is the Payback system which gives you two abilities such as a instant finishers or being able to kick out without having to time the pin QTE. Timed correctly and these little extras can make a difference between a win or a loss.
The bulk of my time was spent in MyPlayer mode, taking my Y2Dave through career mode. Your character starts out on the indie scene fighting in school halls, when opportunity knocks in the form of a cage match against Brawn Strowman, just when you think you have made it, your chance is cruelly snatched away from you.
You’ll have to fight your way back in to the eyes of the WWE Management before you can get noticed again. I enjoyed the bulk of the story, although it was probably to linear for my liking, I Understand that certain matches need to finish in predetermined ways but it would have been nice to go down an alternate route if you lost a match. The odds are stacked against you in some matches and frustratingly one mistake can see you have to restart the match, but that’s a general bugbear I have with the game.
WWE 2K19 relies on you being able to nail reversals, timing a press of the RT when promoted results in you getting out of trouble, it always felt quite inconsistent for me, and it became pretty predictable when your opponent would reverse one of your attacks. My main issue was how an opponent you had been well on control of for a match can win one reversal and win the match as a result. As I write this the irony isn’t lost on me that is pretty much like what the WWE in real life is, however it’s still frustrating!
The wrestling itself is still pretty fun, the wrestlers have more realistic reactions to getting hit, and the movesets for each Pro is extensive, so mastering the controls to take advantage of it all takes some practice. The character models are better than before and the lighting is much improved, as is ringside, fans looks the most realistic they ever have. Heading backstage is a bit underwhelming still, the textures are a let down, it still feels like you are playing an old PS2 title frankly, however it’s still satisfying throwing your opponent around the different environments.
Away from the MyPlayer mode there is a great deal of content to play through, it was great to see Showcase mode return, this year focusing on Daniel Bryan. Each chapter of the story features an Introduction from the man himself before you fight in a career defining match. Each match requires you to meet an objective to help support the story, unlike in MyPlayer I quite like it here as it helps immerse you, I wish they had multiple showcases for each wrestler, I would happily spend my time recreating the memoires.
Towers mode lets you compete against opponents in a string of unique challenges, including varying win conditions, unexpected opponents from WWE and NXT, as well as competitive tests of endurance. It’s an entertaining mode that keeps the gameplay fresh, new towers are added so there is always something new to play. Universe mode makes a reappearance, giving you the opportunity to control everything that goes on in the WWE, managing rosters, making shows entertaining and making sure the PPV events are the best they can be. This is one of my favourite modes and its one you can spend hours tinkering with.
Taking the matches online is still frustrating, most of the opponents I went up against were laggy and it really ruins the online experience for me. However, if you have friends online, Provate Matches are the way to go.
My biggest frustration with WWE 2K!9 is the commentary, It was either way too repetitive, or mistimed. Any fan of the WWE will know that the commentary is an important part of the show when watching on TV, hitting a Rock Bottom is immensely satisfying, but when the commentators scream “Rock Bottom! Rock Bottom!” 30 seconds later it ruins the entertainment. There are loads of animation bugs that need sorting and the reversal system is still frustrating. Despite all this, this is the best WWE game for a while and I have even higher hopes for the next version of the game.