WWE 2K14 PS3 review – Between The Rock and a scarred face
The structure of the mode is identical to ‘Attitude Era’ from last time out: you play through matches chronologically, with each pre-empted by scene-setting photos or videos placing it into context. To advance to the next match, you simply need to win it with the superstar who originally emerged victorious; but successfully re-enacting specific incidents prompts mid-match cut-scenes and unlocks additional content, such as additional belts, costumes and wrestlers to flesh out the game’s roster.
One highlight is the legendary Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage contest from WrestleMania III. You can advance to next year’s event simply by winning as Steamboat, but by ticking off the three conditions listed at the top left of the screen, you unlock Steamboat, Savage and the Mania III arena for use in all other modes
The first is to wait for the match’s WrestleMania Moment to occur (a QTE cutscene in which pressing the correct buttons sees the ref being knocked out). Secondly, you need to get Savage to ‘critical’ damage. And thirdly, you need to win via ‘leverage pin’ – so a roll-up or schoolboy. Post-match scenes again mirror what happened in real life, complete with freshly recorded commentary from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, and while the entire mode is essentially a reskin, the amount of fan service offered throughout means it still has to be considered a success.
The especially brilliant thing about unlocking the likes of Savage and Steamboat – along with names such as Goldberg and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), who finally return to the series after multi-year absences – is that they can all be put to good use as you see fit in the revamped Universe Mode. This is where the product offers real longevity, giving you the chance to manage a monthly calendar of major and minor shows and pay-per-views, with total control of every title, rivalry and wrestler.
“With the new Rivalries section of Universe mode, you can specify which wrestlers feud.
No more John Cena vs Justin Gabriel.”
Exactly like last year’s game, I immediately get to work mirroring the real WWE (Raw on Mondays, NXT on Wednesdays, Superstars on Thursdays and Smackdown on Fridays), then create two new shows: WCW on Tuesdays and WWF Classic on Saturdays. Then I input two pay-per-views a month, one featuring modern wrestlers (so Raw and Smackdown), and one starring the old schoolers (WCW/WWF). All that was possible last year, and remains happily user-friendly – as is specifying your champions on each brand, and deciding whether each wrestler will be a face or a heel.
What’s new – and even better – is the debuting Rivalries section of universe, where you can specify which wrestlers you want to feud, either one-on-one or two-on-two. In previous years, the AI decided that for you, and would more-often-than-not come up with nonsense: for instance placing John Cena against Justin Gabriel week after week, something which would never happen in real life because both are ‘good guys’ and Gabriel is far lower down the WWE chain than Mr Fruity Pebbles.
Now you can specify three rivalries per show, lasting four, eight or twelve weeks, with the game setting up matches and cutscene-based storylines organically depending on your choices. My feud rivalry pits Daniel Bryan against Triple H, with the two duking it out in standard and submissions matches, attacking one another before they face other opponents (costing Bryan a victory against Cody Rhodes), and even forced to reluctantly team up. (Against the Prime Time Players, Bryan walks out halfway through, but Trips still emerges victorious. Which is likely how he’d book it in real life, anyway.)