PAX Prime 2013: Slamming Giants, Roaring Elbows and The Legacy of WrestleMania

WWE 2K14 is the first iteration of the yearly wrestling series to be published by 2K games, but it retains much of the look and feel of previous entries. Having only picked up WWE ’13 a few weeks ago to experience the Attitude Era mode, everything from wrestler animations and timings to the behavior of items and deformable elements of the arenas remain nearly identical.

This is not a bad thing at all: the Predator engine is generally a smooth and functional combat system that replicates many of the spectacular moments from the WWE and developer Yukes is still onboard after the publishing transfer from the now defunct THQ. The game adds some useful user affect elements such as increased feedback about damage levels on specific body parts as you attack them, as well as a more gradual progression between states such as the transition for damage stunned to standing with subtle movements in a recovering wrestler’s limbs and head as they struggle to get back on their feet.

Based on what was shown at PAX Prime 2013 (and the time I had with the demo), the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode will be the main focus of the game. For most wrestling (or sports entertainment) fans, it will be more than enough to justify the purchase: the WWE legacy and the history of promotions it had acquired remains fertile ground for years of focused singleplayer campaigns.

That said, the combination of 2K and Yukes is a partnership with great potential for coming up with a substantially improved wrestling experience: I can’t deny that a WWE 2K15 arrival on next generation consoles next year with a mode based on The Rise and Fall of ECW would be utterly thrilling for me, but the most exciting possibility is a dramatic technical and/or design leap forward for the series.

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