Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teen
I have been a fan of the WWE and their video games for as long as I can remember. The childhood excitement of awaiting the next installment in this sports entertainment franchise is still palpable. However, somewhere over the years things changed. The games became an annual release and seemed to include less and less features each time, until it culminated last October with WWE2K18. Brimming with glitches, a dull career mode, and a lack of new aspects fans were understandably disappointed, many of whom regretted their purchase. So, here we are again, WWE2K19 has hit store shelves, but is it worth picking up after so many disappointments?
Double the Drama
This time around we have more choices regarding single player options. Showcase mode is back, this time around focusing on super-star Danial Bryan’s career. We relive one of his first matches in WWE where he faced off with John Cena, and then we are guided all the way through select matches into his career until his returning match at the last WrestleMania. Each match is introduced by Danial Bryan himself, explaining his mindset during each time period, while during the bout themselves players are given certain objectives to complete in order to keep actions as historically accurate as possible. Despite being somewhat short, Showcase Mode is a welcome back and really goes a long in righting previous wrongs. In addition to Showcase, Career Mode is back, and this time it is better. Players create their own wrestler before engaging in a soap opera style drama. Your aspiring superstar be-gins by grappling in school gymnasiums and then slowly grows in popularity until he gets a tryout in WWE. Cut-scenes are fully voice acted, most by the wrestlers’ real-life counterparts—although there are some noticeable exceptions such as John Cena sounding nothing like himself. There are less player choices this time around, which this is a sacrifice that allows the narrative to be more engaging and, most importantly of all, fun.
Breaking Free of the Cage
Gameplay and controls have remained largely the same for years now, but that does not mean developers Yuke’s and Visual Concepts have not added new gameplay elements, many of which are assigned to cage matches. This game type has been completely overhauled and redesigned. Now, participants can balance on the top rope and sit atop the cage itself where they can battle it out for dominance. Not only that, wrestlers with special abilities can take advantage of the cage and use it as a weapon. For instance, the high-flying Jeff Hardy can leap from atop the steel structure while the monster among men Braun Strowman can throw opponents through the cage, tearing it asunder allowing you to escape and win the match. Other small additions all come together to create the most comprehensive WWE experience yet, both gameplay wise and visual-ly. The majority of the roster looks photo realistic like Triple-H, John Cena, and AJ Styles, however there are a few misshapen messes.
WWE2k19 is the best WWE games in years, the roster is extensive, there are a plethora of game modes, the franchise still boasts the most inclusive creation system in all of gaming, and above, all, the gameplay allows you to feel like a real WWE superstar.
During NYC’s Advertising Week, WWE’s chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon took part in a panel entitled Wired Brand Story-tellers where she discussed business practices and WWE’s first ever all female Pay-Per-View: Evolution. The Spring Creek Sun had a front row seat to bring you the coverage. Answering a question regarding WWE’s engaged audience and how she steers them, she had this to say: “It’s not so much steering them as it is listening and responding to them. Your audience—your consumer—will tell you what they want, you just have to listen, and you have to be willing to be adaptive, you have to be willing to make change. There was a hashtag our audience started called give divas a chance, which is how we had branded our women’s division in 2015. And at that time our women were treated more as secondary type characters and our audience had had enough. This hashtag was calling for better matches, more athleticism, better character development, longer stories, and our chairman and CEO responded ‘We hear you, keep watching. #givedivasachance.’ Then at WrestleMania, in front of our largest crowd ever, we had one of our female Hall of Famers go out and announce the re-branding of the Diva’s division to the Women’s division. She unveiled a new championship belt that was more akin to the men’s, and announced that the women would now be called super-stars—the same as the men. I am very proud that on October 28th we will have the first ever women’s Pay-Per-View ever.”
Photo by Dean Moses