Over the SummerSlam weekend I was in LA for the pay per view event along with SummerSlam Axxess where 2K Games officially announced the roster for the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode. The storyline mode will take players through many of the greatest matches, rivalries and WrestleMania moments from history. As part of the weekend there was a special presentation from 2KGames which highlighted the game and allowed members of the press to give the game a test drive in anticipation of its release.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the game is the chance to relive some of the most iconic wrestling matches in history, and whilst a complete list of available matches available in the mode has yet to be revealed a good selection of classics has already been shown off to be in the game. At the presentation we were shown in depth footage of matches including Hulk Hogan against Andre The Giant from WrestleMania III and also Ric Flair’s retirement match against The Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXIV.
One of the really cool things that was pointed out about the game was the attention to detail given to recreating these matches down to the finest details, and whilst there were several points I felt they missed (which I’ll come to soon) you have to give them credit that for the most part the game does a brilliant job of getting stuck in the past. At the roster announcement at SummerSlam Axxess one interesting thing was that several versions of the same wrestler were sometimes included in the one announcement. For example Hulk Hogan, and Hollywood Hogan. Whilst this is really nothing more than the fact that Hulk Hogan will be playable in two different costumes, it highlights that you’ll be able to play as Hogan from two different eras. The Hulk Hogan that fought Andre the Giant isn’t just in Red and yellow compared to black and white, but also has a significantly different hairline and facial hair.
A further example of the attention to detail comes in that whilst the game will be in HD on your HD TVs the classic matches which come from a time before high definition will have different filters to give the matches the quality of the TV images available back in the 80s or 90s. This kind of small attention to detail will go a long way to bring the feel of the gone by times. It may prove to be a strange experience for some gamers to be forced to play in SD, and you can be sure that there will be at least a couple of players who will spend hours trying to rejigg their cables to get Andre in HD. In that sense maybe it would be good, even as an unlockable, to include an option to bring past SD matches into HD.
As good as it was to see the attention to detail 2K Games had lavished on this mode and WWE 2K14 in general, it has to be said that there were some glaring anachronisms. Not everything we were shown really helped to recreate the past, and whilst these details were few they were noticeable and noteworthy.
The biggest anachronism came in that the commentary for the game mode is provided by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. For the most part this is great and loaded by facts and trivia from Ross as well as jokes from Lawler, but the fact is that they weren’t the commentators for many of the original matches. This really won’t affect the game play, and for most part this is only a minor gripe, but the sound is very important for recreating the past. We were shown a full match game play preview of Andre against the Hulkster from WrestleMania III and maybe other then the slam and their initial stare down the most iconic moment from that match was when Gorilla Monsoon described the bout as ‘The irresistible force vs. the immovable object.’ Without his voice, and with the inclusion of Lawler and Ross you simply aren’t recreating that match authentically. In fairness to the developers it would have been a hard task to strip enough sound bites from old matches with commentators such as the late Gorilla Monsoon to be able to cover all the needs of a wrestling video game, although maybe it would have been nice to get some classic sound bites during key set piece moments such as Hogan’s slamming the Giant.
More anachronisms further affect the Monsoon family as it was noticeable that Joey Marella, son of Gorilla Monsoon wasn’t the referee in the match between Hogan and Andre as he was in reality. Just as it would have cost too much to bring in all the classic commentators and announcers, it’s likely that getting usage rights to all previous referees was deemed not worth it. It should be noted that Shawn Michaels will be the special guest referee in the Triple H/Undertaker match from WrestleMania 28, so it isn’t that no attention to detail has been put on referees.
Other anachronisms include the old WWF logos being replaced by the modern Word Life version of the logo and of course the Attitude era matches all have the modern WWE logo in place too. The classic matches may be presented in SD to fit the era, but from the looks of things they’ll all be in widescreen which wasn’t always the case back in the day. I’m sure there will be very few gamers complaining about this however.
In terms of the actual matches and match content the only anachronism were that you were getting Hogan and Andre busting out moves they couldn’t ever do. Once again in fairness to the developers I don’t think anyone playing that match would want to play as Andre and put Hogan in a bear hug for two minutes forty seconds. The cut scenes for the iconic moments do an excellent job of recreating the match however. The intro begins with the stare down and the shoving back and forth between Hulk and Andre, and the finish where Hogan slams the giant before hitting his leg drop. Though the camera angles don’t match up they’ve really captured the movements from Hogan’s post match celebration spot on.
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They also showed footage of the Flair Michaels match and again very beautifully captured the famous ending where a defeated and crying Flair gave in to his fate as Shawn Michaels uttered ‘I love you’ before super kicking him into retirement. They pointed out how they’ve done extra work on the facial animation to help enhance moments like this, and they do look better than previous entries in the series, but still don’t match up to the likes of The Last Of Us or Resident Evil 6 in the graphics department. It’ll be exciting to see how the graphics improve for WWE 2K15 next year when the game inevitably progresses onto the Xbox One and Playstation 4.
WWE 2K14 will be released on Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 on October 29th in the US and on November 1st in the UK and other territories.
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This article was first posted on August 22, 2013