Tag Archive: 2K Sports


Last year was considered to be a down year for 2K’s annual WWE wrestling franchise. You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet, though, and many of us hoped that last year’s game would at least lay the groundwork for a better product in the years to come. To help support that train of thought, some of us were invited up to 2K’s Novato, CA, headquarters last month to talk with WWE 2K Executive Producer Mark Little about the changes that were coming to the series—and almost everything sounded like what we wanted to hear. So, when it came time for WWE 2K’s annual first hands-on preview event on the eve of SummerSlam, my hopes were unsurprisingly high. After spending an hour with the game this past weekend, I can honestly say that, in some ways, WWE 2K18 looks to deliver on the promises made to us last month—but in others, the series still has a ways to go.

The build we played on PlayStation 4 Pros was admittedly limited in scope: it only featured 10 male wrestlers in TJP, Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Randy Orton, Neville, John Cena, Eric Young, Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin, and AJ Styles, with three match types in 6-man Elimination Chamber, 10-man Royal Rumble, and the standard one-on-one normal match. I began with a standard one-on-one match to get back into the rhythm of a WWE game, and almost right from the get-go, the visuals as a whole seemed much improved over last year’s game.

Entrances have visuals and choreography so real you almost can’t tell the difference between the game and real life. Bobby Roode’s entrance in particular was—for lack of a better word—glorious. Things in the ring were just as impressive. How wrestlers move in the squared-circle does a great job of mimicking how they would on TV, with the way their bodies reacted to hits—both during and after a strike—being as realistic as we’ve seen yet. Downed wrestlers crawl into better positions for follow-up strikes on the bottom turnbuckle, or roll to a perfect place on the mat whenever you climbed to the top rope for a special move. It was the most realistic we’ve seen WWE 2K possibly look ever. Clearly, rebuilding the game’s engine from scratch, and not having to focus on making an Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, has helped free up the necessary resources to get this game looking as good as it does. That isn’t to say there weren’t a few issues, however.

While there have definitely been improvements, there were also still a lot of old bugs cropping up. Weird clipping against the ropes; wrestlers somehow missing moves on one another when right next to each other, or vice versa in getting hit with phantom strikes when they shouldn’t have. And, although many of the character models looked phenomenal, some were just a bit off—like Neville with his dead eyes.

The commentary, which had also seen a marked improvement (for the most part) with the new team of Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves, also had its issues. In my one-on-one normal match, Cole made a comment about this being a No-DQ match when it wasn’t. There were also clear delays between comments sometimes, with Graves or Saxton giving a follow-up unnaturally late after Cole’s call.

The other match types had issues as well. Although climbing to the top of an Elimination Chamber cell (and then flying off said top) was impressive, that match saw some tremendous slowdown from frame rate drops when all six wrestlers were in the match. In fact, until there was only three opponents left, the match felt like we were playing in slow motion most of the time. I questioned Mark Little about this directly at the event, and he assured us the team was aware of the issue, and that it would be worked out by the game’s launch, I still can’t help but be concerned, though, and promise you the first match I play will be a 6-man Elimination Chamber to see if the frame rate drops still persists.

The Royal Rumble similarly saw some slow down as the ring filled up. I’m also concerned over the new elimination mechanics in the Royal Rumble; although it definitely offers a more realistic take on one of WWE’s most iconic match types, there’s a new element of randomness that mimics the chaotic nature of the match well, but which didn’t feel as fun to actually play. A wrestler with low health now can more easily be eliminated with a strong Irish Whip or clothesline, and will be instantly thrown out of the ring. While playing, if felt like there wasn’t an exact science to when a wrestler was vulnerable in this state and more likely to be easily eliminated. There’s also the new button-mashing mechanic, where you and your opponent must mash the same button in a tug-of-war type scenario to try to eliminate/avoid elimination when in that predicament against the ropes. When this popped up, at least then you felt like you had greater control over your elimination chances.

There really wasn’t much else to the demo beyond what I’ve covered here. There was no customization for us to try out just yet, we couldn’t make our own matches, and we didn’t see any of the new Career mode. WWE 2K18 does look better at this stage from a visual standpoint for sure, but there were still enough bugs and glitches to give cause for concern considering how close we are now to the game’s launch. Hopefully, there’s enough time left to polish the game so it reaches its fullest potential—because it doesn’t seem to be there just yet.

WWE 2K18 will be available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on October 17.

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When I got my hands on WWE 2K16 for the first time a few weeks ago, the small amount of gameplay I saw had me worried. After playing a more complete build of the game this past week, however, that first demo seems to have been an earlier build that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Now, I’m more confident the franchise is taking the necessary steps forward to get it back to where fans of “sports entertainment” want it to be.

The most obvious difference between my demos was found in the gameplay. I experienced a lot less glitches in and around the ring, and now grapples and reversals both felt much tighter. I also saw the return of the collar-and-elbow tie up from last year’s game at the beginning of matches that prompts a rock-paper-scissors mini-game, showing the franchise’s commitment to providing more realistic, properly-paced matches.

The ability to “run-in” or “break-out” during entrances was also an interesting feature that I began to take more advantage of during my second time playing the game. While getting a cheap shot in on my opponents may not have been the most sporting thing to do, it was a lot of fun, and authentic to what you might see on RAW every week when you have two opponents who particularly hate each other.

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Where I spent most of my time, however, was with the returning career mode. Once again, you get to create your own wrestler from scratch, see them toil in NXT, and then hopefully make the main-roster—with your primary goal being to see their 15-year career culminate in a WWE Hall of Fame induction.

Due to the limited amount of time I had with the game, I didn’t have much of a chance to dig deep into the specific options of wrestler creation. To save time, I just slapped some brightly colored trunks and boots onto my guy before sending him out to be lambasted by WWE’s new head trainer Matt Bloom (better known as Albert, or Lord Tensai, to longtime fans of the product). Here, career mode took its time teaching me the ins and outs of what it means to put on a good match, focusing on the importance of move variety and how the new Five-Star system works.

What’s really nice about this new career mode is that you now get a lot more dynamic feedback in the ring. Each move you perform can add or detract to your match’s five-star rating, and utilizing every move in your repertoire to keep the fans entertained is critical. Every time you step into the squared circle, it’ll be those fans—not wins or losses—that’ll be most on your mind.

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There are other ways to get fans to react than what you do in-ring, however. After any big match, you’ll be interviewed backstage by WWE’s Renee Young, during which she’ll pose to you a multiple choice question. How you respond over the course of the interview can change you from a face to a heel (good guy or bad guy for those not up on the lingo) or vice versa, as well as help flesh out your personality. Do you want to be aggressive or cocky? Charming or funny? How you answer these questions will determine how the fans react every week when you make your entrance.

Your fellow NXT and WWE superstars are also paying close attention to these interviews, as what you say or who you call out can lead to different rivalries. Because tag-team wrestling has also been given a heavier focus in this year’s game, who you have a greater affinity with personality-wise will also help determine who is willing to wrestle alongside you when the time comes to find a tag-team partner.

Once you start working on your character, you’ll then be able to pick your own set of goals as you start working towards having a Hall of Fame career. You can focus on climbing the ladder, working your way from NXT to the main roster to obtain the US Championship, Intercontinental Championship, and finally WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Maybe you want to focus on being part of a tag-team, and go for double-digit tag team championship reigns like the Dudley Boyz. Or maybe you’re okay being a mid-carder, setting your sights on breaking Chris Jericho’s nine-time reign record with the IC belt. There are multiple paths to the Hall of Fame—but how you get there is your choice.

It’s this new depth to career mode and the pacing of in-ring matches that has me really excited again for WWE 2K16. While I think it’ll be fun to relive the glory days of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the real meat and potatoes of the WWE 2K experience needs to start coming from other places. In that, career mode looks primed to start pulling its weight as a top-of-the-line attraction in this annual sports entertainment simulator.

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Even after a relatively weak showing last year, I had hope that the second new-gen outing for the WWE’s annual wrestling franchise would be able to right the last game’s wrongs and bring the series to a new level. After all, it’s very common that yearly sports releases require an extra year or two before they hit their stride with new technology. Unfortunately, if everything I saw at the hands-on reveal of the game at SummerSlam this year was any indicator, WWE 2K16 is still a ways away from being a main event attraction in gaming’s always crowded fall season.

The demo we were given had access to two modes. The first is your standard Exhibition, which allowed us to tussle with a dozen or so revealed wrestlers from the company’s massive roster. We could do your standard one-on-one face-off, or wrestle as a tag team. I quickly set up a match between current WWE World Heavyweight and US Champion Seth Rollins (who I controlled) and Brock Lesnar, creating a rematch of sorts from the WWE Battleground PPV from a few weeks ago.

As soon as Brock started making his way to the ring, I was able to try out one of the new features the game touts—which gives wrestlers the option to run out during their opponent’s entrance to sneak attack them. With the element of surprise on my side, I began pounding on Brock as we slowly fought our way down the steel ramp. To my chagrin, after a couple of minutes the referee called off the match, much like he would on Monday Night RAW, and the match was declared a no-contest.

When offered a rematch I took it. This time, when I jumped Brock (again, not mandatory, but I was embracing my heel nature), I ran into the ring after clotheslining him, and Brock followed suit. After a quick, but very awkward cutscene that automatically positioned each wrestler on their starting marks—and which suddenly changed Seth’s clothes from his pre-match attire to what he more traditionally wears in the ring after a series of oddly timed cuts—the match started, with Brock at a slight disadvantage.

The idea of being able to run out during another wrestler’s entrance is a good one. It adds an element of unpredictability when playing with friends, and a sense of authenticity when compared to the product we see on TV every week. I think players need a better sense of when the referee is about to call the match off, because had I known that at first, I would have run into the ring much sooner in my first match—but otherwise this is a welcome addition.

Once the action got going in the right, however, I noticed an alarming problem: all the wrestlers felt particularly sluggish. In every match I played over the course of the evening, with different wrestlers from Wade Barrett to Daniel Bryan, it felt like they all had cement shoes on. This wasn’t just a problem in terms of speed, but also in how fights flowed. Gameplay was relatively unresponsive, with most matches devolving into the counter-fests that had plagued previous iterations of the game. We can only hope that everything is tightened up in the two months before launch, but this was disappointing to see to say the least.

Another issue that has troubled the WWE series is glitches, and this demo was chock full of them. The awkward resetting of the wrestlers at their starting marks was just the beginning; clipping issues, broken animation and ragdoll effects, and awkward cutscenes and replays happening in inopportune moments—like when I was going for a pinfall against my opponent—were all prominent throughout my playtime. While all of these are things that will hopefully be fixed by the final version, with 120 wrestlers on the roster, it’d be shocking if they all could be cleaned up by October’s launch. Even some of the wrestlers themselves seemed unfinished, with the quality difference between characters models for guys like Wade Barrett and Brock Lesnar being extremely evident.

Once a given match gets underway, whether you jump your opponent or not, the combat is the same as it has been in years past. Last year’s stamina meter returns, along with three health bars. You still use the face buttons on your controller to perform a series of strikes, grapples, Irish whips, and finally the pin. The only difference I noticed immediately in the ring is the quicktime grapples that started matches last year have been removed. It’s unclear whether or not they can be turned back on in options, but they were clearly missing from the demo we had.

There is also a brand new pinning and submission system, with the latter being similar to what was seen in EA Sports UFC, where each person has a bar in a circular icon. The hold applier is trying to overlap the defender’s bar, and if they do so for a long enough time, the defender will tap out. It’s a nice change from the button mashing system of years past but definitely takes a few attempts to get used to.

The pinning system is still a timing-based mechanic similar to previous games, but instead of holding a button and then releasing it when a meter fills into a “sweet spot” (resulting in a kick out), there’s now a spinning bar in a circle that only requires a tap of the button in hopes of landing in the target area. The more health you have, the bigger that sweet spot is, but both myself and my opponents found it easier to kick out with this method. In fact, I was kicking out of pinfalls even after three of Brock Lesnar’s F5s, and the other player after two Pedigrees from me.

The tag match I played with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro versus the Lucha Dragons played out similarly, but the one observation I made there is that the AI for your partner is much smarter than it used to be. Whenever I went for a pinfall, my teammate would often intercept the opponent’s tag partner and prevent the pinfall from being broken up—whereas, in last year’s game, I often had to take out both opponents before I could attempt a pinfall. As long as I went for the pin closer to my corner than the opponent’s, there was a great chance my partner was going to jump into the ring and make sure we got the win.

The other mode I got to go hands-on with was 2K’s Showcase mode, which this year follows the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Besides tapping into that nostalgia factor for those of us who grew up in the Attitude Era, Austin had some of WWE’s best matches in the late 90s and early 2000s. The first of the mode’s sixteen chapters sees Austin in the finals of the 1997 King of the Ring against a hobbled Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who was reeling after receiving a Vader Bomb in the semi-finals. Just like previous years, meeting each match stipulation results in a full cutscene, and rewards that would be fitting for the Texas Rattlesnake, before unlocking the next chapter.

The new aspects that are trying to be added to WWE 2K16 this year seem like steps forward, but with foundational elements—like how the wrestlers feel and look when you play—still needing to be fixed before the game launches, I’m admittedly worried about this year’s entry. With a couple of months still before release, I’m hopeful the bumps can be smoothed out and that we’ll see a higher level of quality in the game modes we’ve yet to encounter. If not, WWE 2K may need to take a long look at itself as a franchise before being sent back down to a developmental territory to work on its gimmick.

2K Games’ MLB 2K series had been on life support the past couple of years, and today the publisher officially decided to pull the plug.

Earlier today, sports-centric outlet PastaPadre reported that 2K had erased all connections to the franchise, expunging it from their main site, eradicating their Facebook page, removing the 2K10, 11, and 12 editions from Steam and the Xbox Games Store, and deleting the 2K13 website from the Internet.

After this development, Polygon reached out to 2K and received confirmation there will be no MLB 2K14 this year on any system, and pointing to what many suspect is the end of the series.

This decision more than likely came about for several reasons. MLB 2K13 was the tenth edition of the annual franchise, but was universally panned, with many criticizing that, overall, the game was nothing more than a roster update over 2K12.

Franchise developer Visual Concepts, also responsible for the NBA 2K franchise, has recently taken on some of the duties involved with the WWE series acquired after THQ closed down. Asking one studio to do three games each year could’ve proved taxing enough for MLB to get the axe in lieu of the studio expanding as the employees charged with MLB can now be moved to either one of those other games.

This move has sent a ripple effect across the industry, leaving Sony with the only systems (Vita, PS3, PS4) to carry baseball with MLB 14: The Show. While sports games aren’t typically known for making or breaking a system, this is surely an unexpected chink in the armor of the Xbox One—for at least this year, baseball fans will have to buy Sony to get their fix.

It also leaves many to speculate that EA could get back into the business of baseball. EA’s MVP Baseball series ran from 2003-2005 and was hugely successful by most accounts, but when EA signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL following the 2005 season, Take-Two countered with their exclusivity deal with MLB. The end of the MLB 2K franchise also likely marks the end of the exclusivity deal and this means someone else could step in to provide a third-party alternative to The Show and corner the currently vacant Xbox One baseball market.