Slammed into the generation gap.
Woe is me. For some masochistic reason, I found myself in line at my local GameStop waiting to purchase an Xbox 360 version of WWE 2K15, a game I knew well in advance that 2K was hawking primarily for next-gen consoles. I would like to say it was curiosity, that investigative side of whatever game journalism should be about, that lured me there. Or perhaps diligence for a head-start and a point of reference on the Xbox One and PS4 versions. But I can't deny that it was partly out of habit, since I've purchased every annual WWE title since WWF No Mercy on Nintendo 64.
Whatever the case, the WWE fan within me is trying to lock my fingers in a vice grip as I write this review. Indeed, you won't find many critical reviews for this unceremonious current-gen edition of WWE 2K15. If you're wondering why 2K hasn't marketed this version apart from the announcement of its exclusive Who Got NXT mode, it only takes thirty minutes flipping through the game's menus to solve the mystery—this is a stripped-down version of WWE 2K14.
Most of the omissions in this current-gen WWE 2K15 will disappointingly impact fans who look forward every year to the comprehensive suite of user-creation modes that the series is known for. Create-a-finisher has been completed nixed, create-an-entrance has lost several in-depth options, and create a story is nowhere to be found. The instant replay, custom soundtracks for entrances, and the ability to cause interference in W Universe mode have gone missing as well.
The newfangled MyCareer mode, a much-overdue revival of a create-a-wrestler career mode, that you might have heard for WWE 2K15 is exclusive to the next-gen version; while that's regrettable, 2K never made any promises to include this mode here. Instead, the current-gen edition receives 2K Showcase, a replacement for WWE 2K14's 30 Years of Wrestlemania, and Who Got NXT that features five challengers—Bo Dallas, Corey Graves, Rusev, Adrian Neville, and Sami Zayn—from the NXT division of the WWE franchise.
The trouble is that 30 Years of Wrestlemania is a slightly better mode than 2K Showcase. It's fine that it highlights several feuds between Triple H and Shawn Michaels as well as CM Punk and John Cena, but it oddly omits a few iconic rivalries like Stone Cold vs. The Rock and Undertaker vs. Kane. Who Got NXT mode features four wrestlers, two of which are no longer in the NXT division, and only has a set of four challenges per wrestler in a series of limited matches. Some of the objectives, like not having Bo Dallas touch the belt in a TLC match, is gratuitously frustrating. Completing this mode opens a ultra-difficult, one-off Proving Ground match against John Cena that's neat, but still not as epic as attempting to defeat Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania in last year's installment.
Overall, the trouble with WWE 2K15 is that although it retains many of the franchise's annualized gameplay and modes, it's not much more than a clone, and one that's hardly new or as solid as WWE 2K14. Even with some change-ups in the roster like Goldust and Bray Wyatt, it's thinner than last year's lineup with fewer Legends than you might expect (though it will grow larger once the DLC season progresses). The ridiculous number of reversals in the system hasn't changed, some of the bugs from WWE 2K14 haven't been fixed, and the character modeling like Vince McMahon's face is surprisingly poor. Also, once you've finished Proving Ground, Who Got NXT, and 2K Showcase, there's not much to explore beyond the staple of W Universe.
If you're being generous and don't care about the missing creation features, then WWE 2K15 is about as strong as WWE 2K14, except that it asks for premium price. In fact, this current-gen WWE 2K15 could have been better as DLC for WWE 2K14. We inherently expect that the next-gen translations of any game will be the best, but there's no need to drive that point home by clotheslining the current-gen versions into a coffin, nailing it shut, and setting it on fire (and hope that no one is looking). This lethargic, indifferent, unholy sacrifice in the name of the next-gen versions of WWE 2K15 better be worth the cost or fans might just let it all burn.