WWE 2K22 REVIEW (PS5)
''Another one, for the good guys''.
Developed: Visual Concepts
Published: 2K Games
Genre: Sports, Simulation
Release Date: March 11th,2022
Platforms: PS5/PS4/PC/Xbox family of systems
*Review copy provided by 2K Games. Review as part of 2K NextMakers
WWE 2K22 is a wrestling simulation game that is developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Games. After the blistering response to WWE 2K20 that left fans wondering just what the heck went wrong, Visual Concepts returns now, two years later, to hopefully gain the confidence of the wrestling community back. But do they succeed in their efforts or will they scream to the moon and tell us, ''IT WASNT MY FAULT'', just like Gene Snitsky. Only one way to find out, so Time To Play The Game.
I've played a lot of wrestling games over the years that range from Wrestlemania on NES, WWE Smackdown and Here comes the pain, WWE 2K series and even my favorite titles on N64 with WCW vs NWO Revenge and WWF No Mercy. But up and until recent years, they haven't been feeling as polished and clean as they once were. Even with the recent arcade style wrestling games like WWE 2K Battlegrounds, they all were still missing that special something that connected with me the way the older wrestling games used to. After the headache inducing and bug riddled release of 2K20, I had lost quite a bit of faith that we'd ever get a game that could satisfy me. Yes. I said that. They were all missing features or the extra oomph that would give them an edge. After that less than flattering response to 2K20 as a whole, 2K and Visual Concepts went back to the drawing board, delaying its yearly release, and instead they gave 2K22 a nearly two year development cycle. But was that enough? Umm. Yes and No. I guess its story time with GameNChick BAY BAY. So first off, to get it out there right away, is 2K22 as broken as as the previous entry of 2K20? not even close, that game was nearly unplayable. However here, it feels far more polished and stressed tested. This in my opinion feels in large part to a longer development time than the usual yearly release. More thought and care could be added. Much like Ubisoft learned with Assassins Creed and all the problems that came with that becoming a yearly franchise, it seems 2K has learned the same and opted to take the slower and methodical approach, which overall seems to have paid off... well to an extent. Graphically it looks way better than the previous entry, but not vastly. There some textures and models that look like they may not have gotten the same amount of polish as others, but overall, its a step in the right direction as far as engine and graphics go. On the bad side, Flair looks a little funky. For being the Nature Boy, It kind of looks like Nature in general had a grudge with him as he hit every branch falling out of the ugly tree. But on the good side? look at characters like The Rock. In 2K20, it looked like you got his discount twin from the dollar store compared to what we get in 2K22, its not even a contest. He looks great. Vast improvement. Most characters also follow suit with looking great and detailed as well. But graphics wasn't the only improvement, game play, feel and sound design have also improved. In this entry of WWE 2K22, the sound design is actually really competent. This is in relation to sounds of the arenas, the crowds, objects you wield, everything feels authentic and the crowd noise actually adds quite a bit to the ambience of each match, something that I felt was lacking in the last few entries. Yes this even includes color commentary from the announcers. Now we have nearly one to one game play commentary without Michael Cole calling a Suplex, a clothes line. VINTAGE Michael Cole. The roster this go around has also never been bigger, or rather better, even though WWE went through a plethora of roster cuts in recent months, some making no sense at all and others leaving you thinking ''wait? who is that?''.
Depending on what version of the game you acquired, which in my case, I was provided the NWO edition, you will have access to anywhere up to around 160 wrestlers at your disposal to play as, ranging from John Cena, Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, Roman Reigns, David Arquette, Jimmy King and Triple H. The list goes on and on. Huh? what's that? something is wrong with my list? I don't see what could be wrong with it, looks fine to me. Oh well. So ok we know about graphics, how many playable characters, sound improvements, character model improvement, that's fine and all, but what about the game itself? how does it hold up? well.. when it comes down to the game play department, you'll notice this title is both a departure from past games in regards to the overly confusing control scheme where it feels like a typical ending to WCW where the entire ring was flooded with wrestlers and you don't have a damn clue of what the heck is going on because there's so much happening at once. That was sort of like the old control scheme for WWE 2K20 and previous entries. Kind of. Basically in a nutshell I'm saying it was overly complicated for the sake of being complicated, rather than feeling easy to get into and user friendly like it does here in 2K22. To be honest, its kind of a blessing 2K20 ended up being broken and jumbled, otherwise we wouldn't have even gotten this updated title that improves on the pasts failures by a large margin. To think it only took two years to get to this point.
But I count my blessings and I'm just glad it didn't take as long to improve as Glacier took to come into WCW or the modern day equivalent of VEER coming to RAW. Someone needs to put him on the back of a milk carton, dude's been missing for months. But in fairness, as long as he doesn't show up and pull a Shockmaster, all will be forgiven. But I know. I know. I promised game play, I swear were getting into it. The first detail in game play I want to touch upon is one of the more fitting features added into this title with this entry, and it relates to the changes to the game's presentation and cinematic feel. If you've ever watched an episode of Raw or Smackdown or even attended a live event, you will get an idea of what I'm talking about. In past games, you felt more like a character inside the game rather than as the character you're playing as yourself. You felt like you were just watching the action and not BEING apart of it in general, with it feeling a tad bit disjointed, if that makes any sense to others, but its how I've felt. But here in 2K22, with the camera zoomed in more towards the ring, giving almost like a ringside view to it, you get closer to the action than every before and like I stated earlier, with the higher production value of the graphics, along with the better sound design for objects and the crowd, it amplifies the experience of each match that much more, which gives you an even more authentic WWE feel - and to me, just like Carlito would say, ''Now that, IS COOL''.
Another section of the gameplay that has had a slight overhaul, relates to the way you fight. By this I mean, grappling, reversing, countering, and a combo system. Much like everything else here in 2K22, wrestling overall has also been far more streamlined this time around in regards to the combo system where you can put together strikes, grapples, reversals and others moves in your arsenal at a much simpler and fluid pace. All moves are now easier to pull off in 2K's latest entry, more so than it was for The Rock to throw Shawn Stasiak out of the ring over and over on Smackdown. For Playstation players, your basic attacks start with using Square for light attacks, X for heavy attacks and circle for grabbling and grappling. Now.. you can just spam your kicks and punches and give people an ol Stone Cold Steve Austin mud hole stomping, but I wouldn't recommend it because it will open up more of a chance of you getting countered by your opponent and when this happens, you're either going to take one of their finishers, should they have one ready, or get into a round of back and forth reversal wars, if the AI controlled computer manages to guess your next move and vice versa you to them. When getting into a reversal war, its imperative to know that only the first move thrown by you or your opponent is able to be countered or is block able. This can turn into a game of hot potato or simon says because when in a reversal war, you will have to guess which is set of combos your attacker is going to use next in a highly contested game of rock, paper, scissors based off which attack they do, such as Square, X, etc. Should you fail at guessing, obviously you're getting to get hit, ya dumb dumb, but if you guess correctly, you will show them who the real beast incarnate is and beat them so bad that it will make an NWO beating look tame, brother.
Your other avenue of attacks in addition to your light, heavy, grappling, and reversals, are your special moves. With these being, using Payback, with R2+Traingle to hulk up and make a hulk hogan like comeback when you get into trouble, R2+Square to perform your character's signature move, and R2+X for your wrestlers finishing move. An example of these being the 619 and Springboard Leg drop if you're someone like Rey Mysterio Jr. However, just like in previous entries and even wrestling games dating back a decade, not all of your special R2 moves are usable just whenever you feel like it, as yes once again, all of them have specific requirements and area placements for them to be activated, such as Ring only moves and Ring Side only moves. Now while all these moves do feel pretty good most of the time with a large portion of the wrestlers in this game, it does however feel a bit clunky at times with hit detection or animations and combos not always feeling as refined as most others. I think this comes down to the fact that you have over 160 wrestlers to program, create move sets and animations for, and something has got to give really. Its sort of a bummer overall as it can ruin some of the momentum of fun the game has going for it at certain times. But hey, that's the breaks boy, yeah, that's just the breaks little man, BREAK IT DOWN. Oops my bad, got a little carried away there. So controls and basic game play aside, what are the modes in this entry? did they skimp out?. Um. No way. That couldn't be further from the truth. Here in 2K22 you have Showcase mode which features Rey Mysterio Jr and allows you to go through some of his most classic matches from WCW and WWE with matches that include his Mask vs Champion bout at Halloween Havoc versus Eddie Guerrero, his epic clash with the heartbreak kid shawn michaels from RAW, his great match against The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble and many more. This is really awesome because before each match you play, you get a video recap of it and what Rey's mindset was at the time of the match and going into it. Its cool hearing his perspective. Then it immediately drops you into that match seamlessly.
Other modes consist of GM Mode that lets you become a GM of a any WWE brand and see just how far you can take it by drafting superstars, acting within your budget and create the best shows that you can. Its a good thing they didn't have The Shark and Yeti from WCW, otherwise I would've blown my budget on just them alone. Well.. maybe I'll split SOME money between Taskmaster, Gilberg and the Mean Street Posse if they were in this. But alas, it was not meant to be. Moving onto some of the remaining modes like MyFaction that allows you to create your own powerhouse faction and put them through a series of matches across all WWE eras and fight in 4v4 faction matches. I'm not a fan, but we'll get into that in a bit. Strolling further along, we have MyRise mode, which this year adds both a male and female paths and this is where you take your aspiring superstar and aim to make it to the main WWE roster by proving yourself from the performance center and all the way to top of the roster, until you conquer the wrestling world, and strangely enough, holy crap, it's not actually doo doo butter this time. Which is great, no need to rage out from the let down of 2K20 and have a brood blood bath, rest easy, its actually fun this time around with better voice acting and seemingly more creativity. Then finally for the main game modes we have MyUniverse mode where you can take any super star, legend or new, and play weekly matches for specific brands. For this I went to my go to and played as Stone Cold Steve Austin, since he's always my ride or die for modes such as this. With all these modes, obviously you got a huge variety of match types to play as well, match types ranging from normal, tag, backstage brawls, hell in a cell, royal rumble, etc etc, all the classics are here for the most part. My only real big gripe out of all these is we still don't have the option to play as a special guest referee, which sucks, because some of my favorite memories dating back to the Playstation 1 and Playstation 2 games, were being a total troll and screwing over my friends in their matches after I promised them I wouldn't do anything, I swear. But then they'd barely bump my character and id be like OMG YOU HIT ME and then proceed to hit my finisher on them and let the other character pin them. Ahh. Good stuff. But yeah, overall the matches are solid. Well mostly, Hell in a cell and steel cage matches still feel really clunky and jittery overall when attempting to use or climb the cage, and this brings me to the inevitable topic. The games downsides. Uh oh.
Surprisingly, there aren't as many as you probably were thinking. Some are more serious overall, but definitely a far cry away from the problems 2K20 had. Even though I say that, there are still some thing's that are still rearing their ugly heads in this title, such as some of the games collision detection being off which causes some moves to hit or miss from absurd distances where you shouldn't get hit from and even had cases of limbs randomly spazzing out. They weren't often, but when it happens, its definitely noticeable. Crashing is also an issue with this title with the game completely crashing to your home screen either while editing matches in MyUniverse mode or even during the matches themselves. Being ten minutes into a fight then getting an error and crash, makes me want to throw Randy Orton through his living room window just like Triple H. On top of these, Online matches can also feel like a bit of a chore do to some issues with the net code I ran across that pop up here and there, which can make some matches frustratingly laggy and unplayable. To be fair, its not EVERY TIME, but it did happen quite a lot to me. My final gripe has to do with My Faction mode. I find it really underwhelming when compared to everything else because it feels like it was a last minute edition. Like if they had a mobile game concept, but added here in this game just to bolster its modes. Feels almost gacha like. Its not super bad, but its not great either. Its just... there.
When you're done being the most electrifying person in entertainment today, you still have a few things left to do, such as online matches and creation nodes. Online mode is pretty straight forward. Hop online with strangers or buddies and show them why YOU are the king of kings, all while hoping you don't get hit with an R.K.O out nowhere and get disconnected from your matches. As stated before, this can be quite an issue when it comes to connection and lag. Feeling as creative as Teddy Long when he put everyone in a match against The Undertaker, playa? then hop into Creation Mode. This mode this go around is insane. Create your own characters, arenas, belts and even download online creations from others. Some of these characters being real life wrestlers that aren't in the game or even from other promotions like AEW and Impact, as well as fictional ones from movies and video games. The amount of creativity I've seen from people is off the charts and it's largely do to the folks at Visual Concepts making this mode and its features so robust.
At the end of the day, WWE 2K22 exceeded my expectations for it in nearly every way possible. Sure its got issues with collision detection, net code problems with online, limbs going nuts sometimes, matches like Hell In A Cell and Steel Cage feeling a bit clunky, but with its overhaul to the games control scheme for better use of your combos and attacks, more crisp and cinematic feeling presentation that makes you feel like you're living the action, improved character models, design and sound, large quantity of game modes that feel fleshed out and more user friendly, and down to its hard but fair fun factor of each match you take part in that gives you the feeling that you're in a fight of your life - makes WWE 2K22 one of the most fun wrestling games I have played in years. If you're a wrestling fan wanting to scratch that itch, then look no further than with this title. So what is my verdict? what do I think? IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT I THINK. Oh wow. Alright. Thanks Rock. As I was saying. With all this having been said, my verdict is clear. GameNChick says BUY NOW and that's the bottom line.