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Published On: Thu, Nov 1st, 2018

WWE 2K19 Review : Bowen’s Botches and Bodyslams

The reigning, defending, undisputed champion of sports entertainment video games is a conquering beast, even if it is clumsy on the finer details.

 

 

 

 

 

WWE 2K19 is the latest iteration of 2K Games’ annual sports entertainment behemoth. This is the deepest professional wrestling video game that has ever been made available, and that can be overwhelming. The learning curve is steep in everything from customizing your experience to performing in-ring. But on the other side of the hill are the most capable professional wrestlers ever in a video game. And there are nearly two hundred of them at your fingertips.

The core gameplay builds upon the established model for the WWE 2K series, and is still heavily focused on Reversals. The new addition to the in-ring battles are Paybacks. Each wrestler has two, a Minor and a Major Payback. As they take damage the Payback meter fills up, allowing the tides to turn when used at the right time. The abilities range from an Instant Recovery to get you back up on your feet or a Low Blow to stop your opponent in their tracks at the risk of being disqualified. Some Paybacks are unavailable in certain match types, which makes the ability to edit your Paybacks at the character selection screen a wise inclusion. There are also more interactions in the Hell In A Cell, Steel Cage, and Ladder matches, improving the play of these popular match types with more accessibility and variety.

The roster is enormous, and is mostly up to date. There are a few glaring omissions that are likely to be offered in future downloadable content. The current NXT Champion Tommasso Ciampa and NXT’s North American Champion Ricochet are both missing, along with EC3, Nikki Cross, and Dakota Kai. Although the NXT roster has greater depth in its tag team division this year, the singles division for both the men and women feels a little hollow without some of their biggest names. 205 Live’s Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy and The Brian Kendrick are both missing, along with Bobby Lashley from the main roster. The Legends are deep, but the recent addition to the WWE Hall of Fame Hillbilly Jim would have helped round out a list that is heavy on heels.

The selection is still more than enough to satisfy most fans. Besides, just about anybody who is missing can be found for download in Community Creations. If they are not there, you can always make them yourself. If you have some ability in photo editing software and the patience to learn the nuances of how Create -A-Wrestler works, you can recreate just about anything you can think of with uncanny accuracy. I was very happy with the results of the MyPlayer I created of myself. My tip for anyone looking to turn themselves into a wrestler in the game, keep your face straight forward, expressionless, and evenly lit for the picture you upload to the game at the 2K Games website.

The variety of game modes is immense, with everything one can expect for the series along with new additions. Showcase Mode returns, following the story of Daniel Bryan’s career. This is a must-play for his fanbase. Towers a-la Mortal Kombat have been added as well, challenging the player to fight their way through a themed gauntlet of foes. AJ Styles’ Million Dollar Tower is the spotlight of the new Towers. Universe Mode is where the real meat of the game is, allowing the player to live out their fantasy booking scenarios. With the ability to choose the winner of individually simulated matches, you don’t have to play every match where you want to determine the winner. It’s a small addition, but was desperately needed.

 

 

MyCareer is a far better game mode this year. Let’s face it, MyCareer was boring in WWE 2K18. I stopped playing before I got very far just because I got tired of running at a walking pace in the backstage area to find people to talk to. That has been removed this year and the interactions with the characters in the story are streamlined, getting you to the action much faster. The voices of the WWE Superstars in the game are voice by their real-life counterparts, except for John Cena. Some of the performances can be a little stiff, and the audio editing doesn’t always fit. Some of Daniel Bryan’s lines sound like they were done over the phone, and when he’s standing in a hallway or talking on a microphone to an arena, they seem out of place. But the story is fun and it is a far more rewarding experience than last time around.

The graphics and audio have highs and lows. Some character models are perfect representations, such as AJ Styles. Others are ugly or strangely outdated. There have been many comments on Lana and her short hair, but Baron Corbin is the worst. His face looks bad from the front, but his profile looks like a Planet of the Apes beast. This could have gone mostly unnoticed if a profile shot of Baron Corbin wasn’t included in the load screens of MyCareer. The commentary gets credit for great recordings of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton. But it fails in delivery and context. It is so bad that I muted the commentary completely. Mostly because the commentary refused to stop reminding me of the most egregious offense of the game.

The Women’s Evolution is usurping the WWE, and the women can finally compete in all match types in the game to correctly represent that. But you can only play as a male character in MyCareer. The story line and the voice acting can’t just be flipped over to a female character in the mode, so to have a women’s MyCareer it would have to be completely different. That would be a big task and the developer has a deadline to meet. But the commentary table refuses to stop calling my character “she”. If I can’t choose to play as a female, why does the commentary even have the ability to use female match dialogue? It’s a shame that there is clearly enormous effort put into the commentary every year, but it is always the weakest point of the game.

Overall this is still a fantastic game. The controls can be daunting to learn, but all of those button combinations open doors for what can be done more than any other pro wrestling game in history. We’re so far past the age of just strike and grapple, with the particulars of manipulating your opponent and environment having more options than ever before. You can carry an opponent around from multiple angles, carry a ladder vertically or horizontally, and and win a cage match by escaping over the top or through the door. This is as close to recreating what is shown weekly on television as you can get. With the customization options, this can be turned into a wrestling video game for anything. The Community Creations are vast, and they include Ring of Honor, Impact, and Lucha Underground rosters, arenas, and titles. So even if you prefer other wrestling promotions over WWE, you can still enjoy this. Because although it is not without its flaws, it is definitely the best professional wrestling video game on the market.

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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About the Author

- Greg Bowen is a writer, musician, DJ, political activist, and wrestling mark who still has Macho Madness to this day.

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