Should you buy the new WWE 2K18 video game?
The first time I picked up WWE 2K18, I hated it. I had never played any of the previous games in the series and I had no idea what I was doing. The controls displayed in the pause menu made it seem so easy—X for strike, A for grapple, RT for a reversal—yet I found a way to screw it up.
I spent most of that first match—me as Shinsuke Nakamura, the CPU as Bobby Roode—getting my ass beaten handily. It was frustrating, but I could see that it would be a load of fun to be the one on the other side of the beating. And so I spent way too many hours last weekend trying not to suck at this game.
I suppose it goes without saying that this game is pretty fun. It would be more fun, I imagine, in the common area of your college dorm with all your friends hooting and hollering, but playing by yourself on your couch will suffice. I can’t help but think, though, that it should be way better.
Individual matches and the “WWE Universe” mode—where you can create and play out rivalries—make it a decent enough game. But my favorite mode in sports games is career, and this game lacks a satisfying self-contained career mode. There is a “My Career” mode where you create a character and start off in NXT, but it’s essentially impossible to progress your character simply by playing the main storyline. In order to improve your wrestler’s stats, you have to play the online “Road to Glory” mode against other players. Once I figured this out (after spending probably three hours trying to beat Bobby Roode for the NXT title), I assumed I’d be able to improve my player at a reasonable rate. After playing at least 15 online matches, and doing pretty well in them, I earned exactly one attribute point to improve my wrestler’s stats. That makes it obvious that the creators’ intention is to make online play the focus of the game, but it’s disappointing to not have an offline alternative.
As for the gameplay itself, I found the matches decently entertaining to play. The five-star meter in the upper left that rates the match in real time is a nice touch, and the crowd’s enthusiasm ebbs and flows accordingly. The main issue, which is a fatal flaw for less skilled characters, is that you only get a limited number of reversals, though they build back up over time. If you use all your reversals you’re powerless to stop your opponent. There’s no button you can press to stop the beating until you get another reversal. It’s especially infuriating in career mode, where your character only starts out with two reversals.
It goes without saying that the game’s best feature continues to be its customizability, which has produced some of my favorite content online in the past week.
But there are also a handful of bugs. The one that stuck out to me the most was with the names of custom wrestlers. My custom wrestler has the last name White, but the announcers refer to him as Whitney. I played online against a guy named James who they called Jane and a guy named King who was referred to as Kink. The announcers are obviously just using the next name alphabetically on the list, so hopefully there’s a patch coming to fix this.
On a lighter note, look at how Titus O’Neil goes to kiss Akira Tazawa here.
For all its flaws, this is still an alright game. If we’re using wrestling’s star rating system, I’d give it 2 1/2.