WWE 2K18 [Xbox One X Review]: That Day One Ish.
Since this is the first time in years that WWE 2K18 actually feels like it’s made a Drew McIntyre move forward (backstage areas are back, graphic improvements, satisfying gameplay upgrades, 8 wrestlers in the ring, etc.), Moody Omega and I decided to give this edition “The Bar” treatment and brogue kick some sense into this one. Sorry for the delay–we had Meningitis.
Oh what a difference a month makes, Fel. Yours truly has done nothing but shred the latest layer of WWE 2K canvas from coast to coast, pillar to post. But, then entered the release of a most GLORIOUS Xbox One X. We are happy to Ross Report that there is zero lag in 8-wo/man tag matches (aka Survivor Series matches, to which I’ve been dying for in what feels like an eternity!), zero lag in 8-wo/man Ladder matches, and xero lag in 8-wo/man Battle Royal matches. Zero. WWE 2K18 on the Xbox One X runs like an American Dream.
FELIPE “3rd Deacon” CRESPO: I’d “YES!” chant to that, Moody, but I’m a heel. So this being 2K let’s put the heat on ’em right away: Guess what game still has slow-ass, moronic referees?!? WWE 2K18!! GOD. F*+&ING. DAMMIT. They’ll still jog around the ring like an idiot for a bit sometimes before dropping to make a count. OH! And when they drop to make a count? They still take a full second before going for 1. Watch a match. The refs are already on the way to the floor when a wrestler is about to pin their opponent. And though I do love the move towards sim style gameplay, Yukes/Visual Concepts still have to work on the speed and feel of strikes, as most still feel odd and just look nothing like what you see on TV.
TRAVIS “Monsignor” MOODY: I guess the tackle-drop down-hip toss transition didn’t debut without a few sprinkles of American Nightmare. I hit the menu button and back and the ref finally begins his count. SMH. Also, players who forgot or declined to re-download their prepaid DLC/Deluxe Edition bonuses before upgrading their previous run from the X1 to the X1X (ahem, Deacon) were left with a clean swipe of data. And zero kayfabe: My review would definitely have panned out far different had that happened to me (for the third consecutive year!), like an Enzo championship win over an AJ title victory. Thankfully, I one.. two.. sweeeeeeeeeeted my 2.5 days of Universe set-up (Create-A-Wrestlers, brand edits, etc.) and initial MyCareer NXT title run by finding the workaround, and thus have discovered a wrestling video game that.. MADE THE LIST — the good list.
FELIPE: Forget a list; I’m just surprised I’m still playing and loving this year’s version. With improved A.I., matches feel competitive again (and since we are reviewing this a month “late”, patches help clean up the Montreal Screwjobs too). I used to be able to breeze through Legendary difficulty like it was nothing but an unrelenting counter-fest. Like, did anyone else notice in WWE 2K17 how the AI would counter without having counter icons?
MOODY: Can’t honestly say I do, but the text-based promos are — sadly, again — terrible. While slightly improved, I wish that both, a.) WWE 2K would take the time to grab some vocal chops from the WWE/NXT roster, seeing how its sister NBA series has an endless stream of soundbites from an almost entire league’s worth of coaches and players. b.) That guys like Braun Strowman and Kane, who now (yay) have the option of ragdolling their puny opponents around the ring before burying them into the mat, wouldn’t have 4 lines of dialogue each time it’s their turn to chat. I mean, really.. REALLY?? And don’t get me into MyPlayer’s backstage horse-bobbleheaded facial animations that make Mass Effect Andromeda’s close-ups look like a Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece.
FELIPE: I don’t know why people assumed “Yes! Corey Graves added to commentary = overhauled and awesome!” Lol. No. Still garbage. The audio, in general, feels like it took a step backwards. Fans don’t chant or react the way they should during matches and big spots, and some slams sound great, while others sound like you’re slapping a mosquito off your forearm.
MOODY: Dude! I wish we could “cease and desist” the color commentary. Not that Byron Saxton and Graves aren’t immediate upgrades from Lawler & JBL (because they are), but what slaps me in the Million Dollar Dream is the fact that WWE 2K18 is still stuck in the stone aged Sega Genesis Madden style of ringside punch-ins. While the crowd ambience in NXT finally reflects the sounds of all those small-house smarks down in Full Sail (thus, ROH and indie created brands will finally feel more authentic than that of the ‘E!), none of the game’s commentary sounds like it was recorded together, and matches go on far too long without a peep. In NBA 2K18, Kevin Harlan and company have actual, relevant TV presentation conversations. In this Undisputed Era of 4K tech, how hard can that be, WWE?
FELIPE: Here’s one, OK, technically two: Finisher-to-finisher counters and finisher “speed”. There’s an indie game or two that have those figured it out. C’mon, 2K. I can’t hit an RKO Out of Nowhere; there’s always a lag. And so much for great Shibata or Sabre Jr. CAWS if players can’t punt someone going for a pin (still my favorite WM main event finish to date), and spear/”turn around” finishers just aren’t fun! One should be running as the opponent is turning around, not wait until they turn around, stare at them, then run. At least the visuals FIN-ALLY look current gen, and, clearly with the X1X, look tremendous. “Graphics don’t matter” my ass. In 2017 they do, epecially when your older brother is NBA 2K and your parents clearly neglect you. The lighting is by far the title’s biggest visual step-up; just watch all the entrances. While some wrestlers look better than others, I’m sure I’ll be OK with the weird looking Zack Ryder that I never plan to use anyway.
MOODY: You know it! While indeed an upgrade in 4K, sir, cinematics aside, the graphics aren’t exactly at the level of most other “Enhanced” D-Generat-One X titles like Forza 7, Halo 5 and Assassins Creed Origins and that’s fine. The power of Microsoft’s latest beast incarnate finally gives the series the level of fps fidelity and stability it needs. Sure, bugs, glitches, piss-poor load times and Gobbledy Gookeresque face scans (my Moody looks more like a cross between Colin Farrell and Jimmy Jacobs) still prevail but nowhere to the level of previous entries on previous gen consoles. P.S. I haven’t been able to test the Impact of the new multiplayer MyCareer mode, Road to Glory.
FELIPE: Same. But better still, Moods, wrestlers and their appropriate styles actually feel different (moreso than just “oh, smaller guys are faster, bigger guys are stronger”); 2K18 feels more nuanced. One of the best parts? Fatigue really shows. This sounds like a minor deal to anyone that isn’t a wrestling fan, but after a long, brutal match against the Usos, my Shea was about to hit Jimmy with the Brogue kick.. I hit it.. and in that moment, he hits the floor, and so do I.. and we both laid there motionless. It took me a while to start moving and crawl over to lay my arm on top of him for the pin.
MOODY: Pure SAnity. Sadly, Universe Mode still lacks that level of drama. While the new “evolving” rivalry system definitely improves the reason most marks buy this game this side of the sweet Creation Suite, there’s simply not enough cutscenes and story; you’ll still play a tedious stream of matches in your brand without much payoff. But! My “Week 2” RAW brand had 3 cutscenes in 6 of the scheduled matches, with one in particular turning out incredibly awesome (an unscheduled Shield pairing jumped Kane & Goldust at the entranceway to face Anderson & Gallows). Though few and far between — especially in created brands — this year’s cinematics look superslick on the X.
FELIPE: No question. Even hardcore matches are fun again. Bridge ladders and powerbomb people on them, slam them onto steel steps, throw them off the stage, off of trucks.. The last time I had this much fun maiming wrestlers I hated was on Smackdown vs Raw 2011. There’s still hope that next year 2K adds a breaking point where if you keep mauling someone, the ref will throw up the injury X. Sadly, MyCareer is boring as I severely wished 2K would bring back Showcases (with one for Caws), scrap it, or bring in a couple dozen actual fans and players of the games to speak to you guys (just make sure to weed out the “No Mercy for ever! Last one I played!” STUPID IDIOTS!). No forums, no talking amongst yourselves.. fans. Bottom line: WWE 2K18 has a lot to offer. A reinvigorating installment — especially in scrumptious 4K on the Xbox One X — 2K sleeps on so much that it still manages to disappoint in some key areas. 3.25/5 Bobby Heenan Bibles.
MOODY: 7-stars! Oh, No Way Felipe. It’s hard to “observe” a game that essentially requires a $500 system to fully enjoy it. That said, if you have the X1X do some Black Fri/New Day shopping and pick up a discounted copy. I’m happy to report that on Xbox Live, there’s an outstanding return of the created wrestlers you love not currently earning paychecks in Stamford, CT. Check my man Dre41 for all the great ECW and Bullet Club CAWs, belts and rings, especially since he (and a good few other dope Creation Suite geniuses) went back and remastered their inventions following a horrendous, near game-breaking disappearing logo issue. This lazy fuck just wishes we could DL tag team entrances, too. Minus the Vince Russo quality of promo scripts, frustrating irish whips, the usual match bugs and lack of custom music and intriguing cutscenes, WWE 2K18 is one of the more solid entries from the pub’s 5-year squared-circle run — if you own the Xbox One X, of course. 3.25/5 One Sweets (3/5 on other consoles)