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WWE 2K18 Review – Fumbling in the Square Circle
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Have you ever dreamed of stepping into the squared circle at WrestleMania, fighting the greatest Superstars who ever lived and claiming the championship belt as your own? WWE 2K18, developed by Visual Concepts, Yuke's and published 2K Sports provides this to wrestling fans.

Now I haven’t been a pro wrestling fan since I was in high school (over two decades ago), but when I ran the game on my PS4 Pro for the first time and saw the intro with the slogan of “Now, then, forever” I couldn’t help but go back to my childhood excitement for WWE. Unfortunately, that excitement quickly faded as I started progressing through the game. Even though the game has an incredible roster with almost every Superstar you can imagine, it has a plethora of flaws that bring it down, including a dull career mode, graphical glitches and gameplay annoyances aplenty.

A royal fumble

When I first started playing WWE 2K18 earlier this week, I was excited to create my own Superstar and go for that coveted belt. The character creation tool is robust, allowing me to create some really cool looking Superstars.

I settled on Sillinoob, a heavyweight fighter from Cape Town (because Port Elizabeth was unavailable) and I set off on the road to stardom. The career mode starts off very slowly, as you get to grips with the controls in training exercises and speak to other wrestlers and personalities in the WWE. Unfortunately, these interactions are barebones, to say the least.

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The campaign does feel very dull and it doesn’t help that there is no voice acting. Instead, you just read the text lines as characters move their mouths in an inaccurate manner. You can walk around backstage, but even that feels weird, as my character could just move through objects and the animations of NPCs walking around looked terrible.

The banter that goes on and the responses I could give feel more like primary school insults and the overall writing of the “story” is truly bad. There is also one thing that annoyed me more than any other fault in the game, the loading screens.

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Everything you do in the career mode, and across most of the game, has a loading screen and it takes quite a while to load even on my PS4 Pro. It started to feel like I was looking at the loading screen for more time than actually playing the game, except in the instances where I fought in a match, which obviously takes some time.

When it comes to the unlockable content, that is done very well and upgrading your superstar with new moves, clothing and even to increase his or her stats. The progression system feels solid and it is one of the things that kept me playing for longer than I probably would have.

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During the campaign, there is also a promo system. It is basically a way for you to engage with the crowd in the form of a mini-game, where you have to keep the tone of your speech the same throughout. If you take an aggressive approach, you must stick with it by choosing the correct option. The idea is there and it should work well in theory, but the actual text options feel so bland that the feature is brought down by it.

Pinned down

Yes, WWE2K18 is probably a wrestling fan’s dream game and I can see why. There are so many awesome looking superstars to choose from and a vast array of match types. My personal favourite is the cage match and the backstage fighting. I took the Undertaker and went up against Triple H in an awesome fight, well, I should rather say awesome to look at.

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You have your standard throws, punches, grabs, a pinning minigame and multiple other ways to attack your opponents. Some of the attacks and the ability to pick up your opponent and walk around with him, then smashing him to the ground, feel great. However, the game focuses way too much on reversals, and these reversals are quite annoying to both do and try to avoid.

What you need to do when a reversal happens is press R2 (on the PS4). If you press it at the correct time, your character will basically counter your opponent’s attack and you can do a counter-attack. It isn’t very difficult to pull off, but it almost feels like I lost control of my superstar a lot of the times. There is a big lack of control and when you do feel in control for a bit, another reversal happens.

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It isn’t only reversals, as I felt completely disconnected from my character most of the time, even checking to see if my controller didn’t run out of battery power at one point. Characters just lay there or stand around dazed and confused after being hit, so much so that it felt that I was only controlling them half of the time in the ring. The game has everything and the kitchen sink (literally) to throw at the player, but it also these flaws that are hard to overlook.

There are a couple of things WWE 2K18 does well compared to many other games in recent times is it loot box system. You can unlock new Superstars, moves, clothing and even stat boosts in these loot boxes, but the difference in WWE 2K18 is that they are all bought with virtual currency you earn in the game and not with real money. That is definitely a refreshing change from what we are used to in this day and age.

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Then, there are also the crowds, which are better-looking than any other crowds I have seen in sports or racing games. The characters are detailed and look more unique, all while holding posters, moving their heads and sometimes you can even see a crowd member scream.

The atmosphere before the match is great due to this crowd that feels alive.

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Unfortunately, the bland commentary during a match brings all this down again. The commentators repeat lines so many times that I wanted to turn it off and just play instead. The game does have some great music that sets the mood and really got me amped up for a big fight. It made me feel as if I wanted to ingest way too many “supplements” and get pumped for a gym session. The feeling is definitely there, but the execution is just lacking.

The Verdict – Down for the count

WWE2K18 is definitely not for everyone. You have to be a hardcore WWE fan to appreciate meeting all the characters in the career mode and unlocking legendary costumes, fighters and more. The game is definitely big and delivers just about everything a WWE fan could want, from various types of matches to a plethora of Superstars.

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Unfortunately, it is brought down by a dull career mode, coupled with terribly annoying loading screens and several other issues discussed in this review. For the most part, I didn’t feel as if the game pulled me in to keep going and instead, it became a chore to play. Even so, WWE fans might very much enjoy the experience, but some technical aspects, for example, the graphical glitches and gameplay bugs, still shouldn’t be overlooked even if you are a big fan.

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch | Played On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 17 October 2017 | RRP: R999

This review was based off a promotional code provided to us by Prima Interactive.

Sillicur Twitter / MWEB GameZone Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube  


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