WWE 2K19 Review
There's a feeling you get when you boot up the newest WWE game. It's not unlike the feeling that comes with the release of any other annual sports game. For the most part, you know what to expect, so you only have to ask yourself two things: "Am I going to be disappointed this year? And how" And considering how fairly lackluster the last couple of releases have been (especially last year), those are fair questions.
Well, there's no way of me knowing what your expectations are for WWE 2K19 - that would be a hell of a thing, wouldn't it? As someone who wasn't exactly blown away when WWE 2K18 was released, I can tell you I was way more satisfied this year. There's a lot improved and a lot to like with this year's release.
Just to make things a little easier, if you click on the previous link and read my review from last year, I can tell you this: There's nothing I disliked about this year's game that's different from last year's. Fortunately, a good majority of those problems have been fixed this year.
Like last year, I played the Digital Deluxe version of the game, meaning that, on top of all the other benefits (Season Pass, etc.), I was able to play it four days early. Unlike last year, I didn't notice any major glitches and bugs as I played. In fact, with the exception of the online mode*, I played through every mode in the game within 24 hours of launch, and they all worked as promised.
What I did notice, however, was just how great the game's visuals are. The character models haven't changed much, but the lighting, textures, and frame rate have gotten an upgrade. I played this on a regular PS4 Slim and I was impressed - I can only imagine how mind-blowing they are on a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X and a fancy-pants TV.
WWE 2K19 offers a number of screen filters - black & white, 80's VHS, etc. - as well as two really fun new ones: Cel-Shaded and 8-Bit. So, if you've ever wanted your WWE game to look like either a cartoon or an overly pixelated old school video game, you've got your wish.
MyCareer is... actually really good?
For those of you who wish for less specific and more reasonable things, you'll be thrilled to know that the My Career mode this year is really good. Really, really good. This year, your create-a-wrestler is talented but broke Indie Darling™ working for Barron Blade (who has had a recurring role in previous games) and his promotion, BCW. The story isn't exactly Game Of Thrones, but it's way different from previous career modes and fun to play through.
It's also almost completely voice acted, and done well. The script is funny and takes some pretty fun (if not somewhat predictable) twist and turns. While it would have been great to be able to play through it as a female wrestler, hopefully, they laid the foundation for that for future releases.
The 2K Showcase mode is back this year, too. As advertised, this Showcase is all about the career of Daniel Bryan. Going back even further than you would expect - prepare to play as Bryan Danielson - it features narration by the man himself. Other than the subject matter, it's really no different than previous modes, but that's not a big deal.
What's not so great...
Another mode that hasn't changed much - unfortunately - is WWE Universe mode. I'm not saying it's not fun, but after years of expecting way more than we get, I've just sort of stopped expecting anything. If you're willing to put the time in - setting up the rosters, tag teams, shows, etc. - it makes for a decent enough simulator, but it's way more time than I'm willing to put in. I've got stuff to do.
Interestingly enough, the normal "Play" mode, a pen, and a pad of paper works much better for me. I guess I'm just old school.
So, what's still not good? The commentary is still a mess. I mean, the commentary for the real thing isn't exactly what you'd call stellar, either, so I can't say I'm surprised. Still, whenever I hear Michael Cole say "you can't win this outside of the ring", it takes all my willpower to not scream "YES, HE CAN, COLE! IT'S A FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH, YOU KNUCKLEHEAD!"
Along those lines, the promo system in Universe mode is also just stupid. The responses are all cookie-cutter and they rarely work with this situation. For example: why did John Cena demand that Sheamus come to the ring to talk to him, only to later ask him why he's in the ring, interrupting him. It's not like this feature adds anything to the game as it is, so why even have it if you're not even going to do it right?
As for the actual wrestling? The general controls are the same, so you should be able to jump right into matches with very little warm up if you're a fan of the series already. There's a neat little addition called Payback, which are individual buffs or moves that build-up as your character takes damage that you can unleash when you need to make a comeback. It's not intrusive and it's a really good addition.
Let's wrap this up
The biggest compliment I can give this game is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. The fact that it has a "Big Head" mode (like the old NBA Jam games used to have) is a great indication of that.
WWE 2K19 is far from a perfect game - it's not even close to a perfect wrestling game (especially considering it exists in a world that also has Fire Pro Wrestling World). But, it does what every annual sports game should strive to do: fix the previous problems and add something new to keep it from being a "roster update." If you haven't played a WWE 2K game in a while, this would be a good one to return to the fold with.
Sportskeeda's rating: 8.5/10
*This score doesn't take into account the online modes, which I didn't get enough time to play in order to give it a fair look.