wwe 2k18

Mostly fan­tas­tic, but glitches will leave you Stone Cold

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Ben Wil­son

Since its 2014 switch from 360 to Xbox One, 2K’s of­fi­cially branded span­dex-’n’-slams se­ries has been syn­ony­mous with two things. Sur­gi­cal at­ten­tion to de­tail when it comes to mak­ing the videogame play like ‘real’ chore­ographed WWE... and, with re­gards to pre-re­lease playtest­ing, the po­lar op­po­site. For the third year run­ning, this fran­chise en­try launches with more frus­trat­ing bugs than there are wrestlers in a Royal Rum­ble.

An en­tire re­view could be filled with these grem­lins, but we’ll try to cover the key ones in a para­graph. Uni­verse mode, in which you cre­ate your own shows and feuds, ham­strung by ran­dom crashes and the AI re­plac­ing matches with un­deletable wrestler pro­mos. Last Man Stand­ing bouts in which the re­quired prompt for you to re­gain your feet never ap­pears, and so you lose in sec­onds. Pro­mos where the im­por­tant ‘taunt’ but­ton does noth­ing. Ref­er­ees some­times re­fus­ing to count. And so on.

Fig­ure-eight le­glock

Those who’ve peeked at the score are en­ti­tled to won­der how all of this can still add up to an 8/10 game. Therein lies the Jekyll-and-Hyde ex­pe­ri­ence that is WWE 2K18: when it comes to the in-ring ac­tion, it’s an ex­cep­tional grap sim. Smartly mesh­ing the com­pet­i­tive el­e­ments of a real fighter with wrestling’s pan­tomime touches, the end re­sult is a game where 80% of your sat­is­fac­tion comes from win­ning; the other 20% from merely putting on an en­ter­tain­ing show.

That sur­gi­cal at­ten­tion to de­tail is crit­i­cal to this. Ac­cu­rate faces, en­trances, and other cos­metic touches are all in­cluded, but it’s more sub­tle flour­ishes that lend a just-like-watch­ing- Raw feel. Such as an op­po­nent sub­tly repo­si­tion­ing themselves on the mat in or­der to take a top-rope move as you as­cend the turn­buck­les; squash matches, where a bout can be over in sec­onds if a vastly su­pe­rior grap­pler takes ad­van­tage of an early mo­men­tum boost; and a neat new carry sys­tem from which you can tran­si­tion into moves or launch a foe into in­ter­ac­tive scenery, such as the ring posts.

The big­gest changes ap­ply to tag-team con­tests, and that’s good news; these were a weak point, of­ten last­ing for­ever as your clueless team­mates failed to pre­vent op­po­si­tion coun­ter­parts break­ing up pins. Now, wear a foe down suf­fi­ciently, and he or she will roll to the arena floor af­ter ‘hot tag­ging’ out, giv­ing you a short win­dow in which to pum­mel and de­feat the sur­viv­ing part­ner.

Re­lated, and wel­come, is the call to ex­pand tag matches to eight men, should you wish. Yet while four-on-

“The menu for build­ing your own shows is won­der­fully user-friendly”

four slugfests should be a high­light, they come at a price: Crip­pling lag. Tim­ing-based me­chan­ics such as re­ver­sals and kick­outs too of­ten be­come a lottery, and the stut­ter­ing can be a quite-lit­eral headache. This is­sue, like the oth­ers, is likely to be patched at some point; until then the match type is an oc­ca­sional di­ver­sion rather than a con­stant must-play.

The big shows

2K18 di­vides its long-haul modes de­pend­ing on whether you want sus­tained play as ac­tual WWE su­per­stars, or a pre­tend-o-ver­sion of your­self. The most de­vel­op­ment ef­fort has gone into the lat­ter, aka MyPlayer, which it­self is split into two handin-glove op­tions: MyCa­reer and Road To Glory. The first is pre­dom­i­nantly off­line, the sec­ond mainly on­line, both with the same prin­ci­ples: Win matches to un­lock vir­tual cur­rency to im­prove your cre­ated bruiser.

MyCa­reer is sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved this year by a more stream­lined story, with spe­cific goals that must be met to ad­vance—yet it main­tains a de­gree of free­dom via the abil­ity to roam back­stage and talk to other wrestlers and au­thor­ity fig­ures. While ev­ery­one can have fun with that, the same won’t be true of Road To Glory thanks to the de­ci­sion to hide un­lock­ables, such as hair­styles, cloth­ing, and other ac­ces­sories, be­hind loot­boxes.

Di­vi­sive as Road To Glory may be, there’s no de­bat­ing that the mode in which you play as ex­ist­ing wrestlers, Uni­verse, is bril­liant—when those glitches aren’t rais­ing their ugly heads. The menu for build­ing your own shows and feuds is won­der­fully user-friendly, with the en­gine now gen­er­at­ing po­ten­tial fu­ture ri­val­ries for you while ac­tive ones play out. Like the look of any po­ten­tial ri­valry and by pair­ing wrestlers against one an­other, you can trig­ger cut-scenes which de­velop it fur­ther.

Uni­verse is so good that without those bugs it’d cause 2K18 to threaten 9/10 ter­ri­tory; but they sim­ply cannot be ig­nored hav­ing be­come a per­ma­nent launch char­ac­ter­is­tic of Yuke’s oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent se­ries. This re­ally is a true-to-life in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Vince McMa­hon’s WWE. Right down to oc­ca­sion­ally feel­ing like you’ve been su­per­kicked in the skull.

far left Women’s matches are at long last on par with the men’s, mak­ing Sasha Banks vs Bay­ley worth con­stant re­vis­it­ing. Left Cruis­er­weight show 205 Live debu­tants in­clude Akira Tozawa and TJP, and there’s also a re­turn for The Brian Ken­drick.

Right Power Rankings within Uni­verse are a tidy new fea­ture that en­ables you to quickly see who’s hot and who’s the next Curt Hawkins.

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