GameOn: Flying off the top rope with WWE 2K18

Just like Madden or NBA 2K, WWE 2K has become an expected annual release on the video game schedule. And, just like those other yearly titles, WWE follows a similar formula of tinkering with its presentation and gameplay just enough to warrant calling itself different than the previous one. Does that mean WWE 2K18 is a bad game? No, certainly not.

In fact, 2K18 feels directed at older wrestling fans. This year, there’s an edgier feel to 2K18, not in an over-the-top kind of way, but there is a subtle hint of aggression that’s been missing in the others. So much of the WWE product nowadays has become watered down that some of us have decided to throw in the towel. But there’s something that keeps many of us coming back for more, and a lot of that has to do with the memories of growing up and watching our favorites grapplers in the squared circle, facing each other for a title that seemed to actually mean something. In that regard, WWE 2K18 is a time machine — an opportunity to relive some of those classic matches that captured our imagination. That is due, in large part, to the ever-expanding roster that the WWE 2K series boasts.

The roster on these games is always stacked, and every year, there are new names and fresh faces. Want to recreate the controversial Montreal Screwjob? Childhood heroes Shawn Michaels and Brett Hart are here for you to play out that fateful scenario or change it as you see fit. Different versions of wrestlers from yesteryear are options, as well, including classic Shawn Michaels, circa 1997, or D-Generation X-era HBK from a year later. In a super deep pullback, WWE 2K18 adds Earthquake to the roster. Who’s Earthquake, you ask? You’ll have to refer to your WWE encyclopedia to find out.

Not to be left out, rising WWE superstars like Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura are also playable characters.

Some changes to the gameplay this year that are worth noting include the approach to submission holds — how to either apply one or escape from one. When a submission hold is applied, you’ll be in charge of controlling a blue bar or a red bar that moves around a circle, depending on which end of the maneuver you’re on. You’ll be tasked with keeping your opponent’s bar from completely overlapping with yours if you’re trying to break free. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Thankfully, kicking out of a pin is much easier.

The WWE Universe mode allows you to take part in an ongoing schedule of matches, just like in real life, and Creations mode gives you the opportunity to create everything from your own title belt to your very own arena.

Possibly the most important thing included in WWE 2K18 — and it’s such a small addition that it’s easy to take for granted — is the ranking system for the matches. Your matches are ranked on a five-star scale; the more stars you get at the end of a fight, the more the points and cash you earn.

WWE 2K18 doesn’t break any major new ground — although that might be due in the next year or two — but it’s a solid game that wrestling fans will enjoy. All your favorite names are here from today and yesterday, and there is more power given to the player in the Creation mode.

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Jason Savio

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