It’s October, the time of year when the hot summer simmers down to a cooling autumn. When the trees shed their leaves, like a would-be hunk shedding their excess pounds to attain that perfect beach bod. The smell of bonfires fill the autumnal nights, and scarves and gloves are pulled from the bottom of wardrobes in preparation for the cold biting at exposed digits. Halloween is just around the corner, the spookfest is warming up, but there’s one other tradition this time of year I want to talk about…
The release of 2K’s latest entry in the WWE series.
When I say 2K’s, it’s actually Digital Concepts and Yuke’s who develop the yearly instalments, and it’s this tradition that needs to stop. Yearly updates to this series has left it diluted and weak. We’re treated every year to a roster refresh and a few more moves and animations thrown in for good measure. One could argue that other yearly games commit the same crimes — Fifa, Call of Duty, amongst others, all are happy to photocopy their games, and with a loyal fan-base, why the hell not. However, WWE is a different story.
The changes to the game are so minimal they might as well be a patch. There is no value in the series that warrants a £40 price tag every year for a few new wrestlers, that you can get from the Community Creations, and quite often are much better as a product than the official assets. The online aspect of the game is truly awful. With a very limited amount of modes, crappy servers, and no ingenuity in what they throw out each year. Where’s the option to have an online pay-per-view with friends? Where’s the ability to have storylines and rivalries? They don’t exist, that’s why, and I suspect they never will as there is about as much development time in these games as there is a tweak in a patch.
I would rather see a new game released every few years, and a simple roster update that costs a lot less than a new game every year. The game is not worth the money being put down on each entry, and for everyone out there who’s a fan (I include myself in this category) if you removed the WWE name from the series, would you be buying it every year?
Whilst there are alternatives out there, they are few and far between, one of particular note is Fire Pro Wrestling World, a 2D grappler with an impressive pedigree. FPWW could be argued is the superior game to the 2K series, and is heavily customisable, it lacks the polish, finish and fluidity of the WWE games, and for those looking to recreate what they’re seeing every Monday on Raw, disappointing match types and a limited single-player mode prevents it from achieving greatness.
The WWE games need a serious overhaul. The online system needs to be redeveloped from the ground up and made to make fully interactive with friends and online opponents. Imagine the fun you could have developing storylines with online players building up to PPVs. It would really set the series apart from other sports games that also offer a similar functionality, because if you put WWE up against EA’s UFC series, then WWE doesn’t make it past the first round. Online rivalries, online rankings, and the ability to have a career online, leaves WWE languishing in the minor leagues for online modes.
An additional part of the games that also needs, nay, demands an overhaul is the story sessions. Where is the ability to set a heel turn midway through a match, or set up a series of events that have long-running consequences? WWE is notorious for its scripted moments and long storylines, but they’re noticeably absent in their games, the developers seem reluctant to put any full money behind developing the game and are content pushing out a tweaked game every year.
It’s a shame a series as fun as this can be let down by offering little more than what was offered in the series ten years ago. The WWE games are as unchallenged as the company they represent, and that’s just sad for everyone involved. Competition is healthy and it gets the best from all of us, it’s about time someone stepped up to the challenge.