The bling ring
Running the risk of adding insult to substantial injury, there hasnt been a truly great wrestling game in years. While the pageantry and showmanship has always been present and entertaining, the lack of innovation or consistency in the series has diluted interest in all those but the solid core of rabid WWE fans. But with the reliable 2K Sports handed the reins, it looked that interest would soon be reignited in the virtual theatre of sweaty man-slapping.
Whats surprising then is that, with a move to new-gen consoles, WWE 2K15 suggests that the new brand custodians dont have the enthusiasm for the sport as you might expect. Theres the slight whiff of laziness as certain key mechanics have disappeared from its predecessors, while little details have been ignored outright (wrestlers such as Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk being featured despite having left the sport; while even something as simple as a trademark entrance is noticeably missing).
Similarly lacklustre is the gameplay, suffering under duress from a more rigidly formed framework that opts for accuracy over silly thrills. That does mean that across the board animations are slicker, buoyed by better mo-cap work and cleaner transitions all tying into a much improved visual presentation. But the unfortunate result of this new approach is unresponsive and clunky fighting, often failing to perform desired moves. Its unforgiveable in a heavyweight sports title of this calibre.
And this is all without getting into the disappointment of the modes available. Creation mode (a genre staple) has had the imagination sucked out of it, trading crazy invention for stock character types not to mention criminally removing the option to create female wrestlers entirely. Elsewhere, the create-your-own-world-champion Career mode is a jumbled mess as the soap opera dramatics thinly papering over the lack of storylines and stagnant design present.
If there is any fun to be had, its in the multiplayer. Offline bouts offer the raucous entertainment that has been one of the series major draws for years, but online is borderline unplayable hampered by chronic lag issues. Its another mark of regression in a game that struggles to earn its keep. WWE hasnt served up a great game in years but in 2K15 it has delivered its worst.