As a kid WWE was the big thing in the playground, I’d watch it on TV, battle the action figures with friends at school and even remember playing Smackdown on the PS1. That was 18 years ago and I don’t follow wrestling that much now but it didn’t mean I wasn’t able to enjoy WWE 2K19 like I would have enjoyed a wrestling game back in the day. Not only was I able to play as some of the wrestlers I grew up watching but also live out my own wrestling story, create my own WWE Universe and relive the career of a WWE Superstar. There was a lot to offer in this title and for a wrestling casual like myself, I was unexpectedly left more than satisfied.
Once again developed by both Yuke’s and Visual Concepts, WWE 2K19 is the 20th instalment in the games franchise and the 6th published by 2K Sports. Modes returning to this annual release range from your casual Exhibition and Online pvp modes including their many sub modes right through to the more in depth Universe mode, which was previously introduced in WWE 2K18. As the name suggests, you can create your own year long WWE Universe and customise everything from shows and championships to Superstars and their rivalries. You can either simulate the match and choose whoever to win, sit back and watch the action unfold in real time as if your watching a televised show or let your skill decide by controlling a wrestler of your choice. Showcase also makes a return, with WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan giving you an interactive storytelling journey right from the beginning of his WWE career. Winning each match isn’t exactly the goal to progress in the story, with matches containing scripted events and in-match objectives to complete, like pulling off certain moves.
If playing through someone else’s career doesn’t excite you, you’re able to live out your own in MyCareer which acts as the games campaign mode. Using a MyPlayer character that can be customised from head to toe, you play a small time wrestler living out of your van while competing in the BCW with the dream to make it in the WWE. It works just like Showcase with in-match objectives but a bigger focus on being victorious. Between matches you enter what’s called the HUB, where you can brief with your manager/other opponents, compete in side matches, check messages, upgrade skills using Style points earned from levelling up and even listen to podcasts to get a glimpse of how the public perceives you as a wrestler. It’s a nice added touch to how the story is executed which is usually only told in cutscenes, which are still there between matches and HUB mode. Along with the Skill Trees to improve your character, you can add on temporary boosts that can be found in Loot Packs. Don’t let the name fool you though, there are no micro-transactions in this game.
WWE 2K19 also introduces a new mode called 2K Towers. The more challenging marathon of 15 matches featuring the face of the game, AJ Styles, has you wrestling against other Superstars where health doesn’t regenerate between matches and once you lose a match your progress starts all over again. If this sounds like too much of a challenge for you, there are smaller towers with varied levels of difficulty where you can save your progress and have different stipulations other than restrictive health regeneration.
The developers have once again done a great job making each wrestling match look like you’re actually watching the WWE. Along with modelling each Superstar to the smallest, sweatiest detail of their real selves, they make arenas feel so alive by having hundreds of individually animated audience members cheering you on. At first I thought that was as far as the visual realism went, thinking the developers had removed the blood effects from the game to make it look less violent. But after a while I had realised this was a Settings option that could be enabled. Superstars also provided their own voices, but unlike their performances in the ring the voice acting as a whole fell pretty flat. Some of the audio and mouth movements were completely out of sync as well.
While the voice acting didn’t impress me, the music of the game definitely made up for it. The soundtrack to WWE 2K19 was selected by Superstars themselves and features artists like Metallica, Eminem and Fallout Boy just to name a few. It kept me pumped between matches and took me back to my teen years playing other WWE titles while listening to these exact artists.
WWE 2K19 delivers a package that tailors to both casual fans of the fighter/wrestling genre and hardcore followers of the WWE. And it’s safe to say it may have regained an old fan to start following again.
WWE 2K19 is out now on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.
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