WWE 2K19 review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: 2K
Developer: Yuke’s/Visual Concepts
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

Well, well, well? it is I, your quintessential ranting wrestling reviewer. I have to say, after the beat down I gave WWE 2K18, I was somewhat surprised that 2K even supplied us with a review copy of WWE 2K19. Of all the annual games released (had to remove ?sports? because prowrestling is a bit of a grey area that some people feel strongly about) I was most looking forward to this latest WWE title. Could 2K fix the mess that was last year?s game? What new modes would they include? Would Showcase mode make its triumphant return? Long story short, and this will become a bit of a trend in this review, WWE 2K19 improves over 2K18 and even brings back Showcase mode? but how much better is it really?

Let?s start with what?s new; Tower mode. The easiest way to explain this mode; imagine you took the Tower mode out of the last Mortal Kombat and threw it into a WWE game. You basically compete against a set amount of opponents in one sit down, sometimes with special match and win parameters. This mode didn?t peak my interest in MK and really doesn?t here as well (I did like how NetherRealm handled it for Injustice 2, but that?s a conversation for another time). The big pitch of this mode is that it features a tower that, if conquered, you could win a chance at a million bucks if you are victorious against AJ Styles in a face to face 2K matchup. While a cool concept, it?s really just a gimmick like previous ?pitch a perfect game? contests in the old 2K baseball titles. If the towers featured exclusive ring attires to unlock within limited time frames or something else to push you through, I would be more inclined to play them (ala Injustice 2).

Making its return after a couple of year hiatus is Showcase mode! (Queue YES chants.) This year features the WWE career of Daniel Bryan and while Daniel is one of my favorites in the company I would have preferred they went another route. You see, Daniel?s career is not yet over and they really didn?t have a whole lot of years to pick from for this mode. Previous years featured 20+ years of Wrestlemania and Steve Austin?s career. Now, the matches that are included are treated with the same care as previous Showcase modes; objectives that make sense and commentary recorded specifically for the mode. Despite definitely being a step in the right direction, it just seems like creatively they were limited in what they could include. You see the WWE wants nothing to do with CM Punk right now, and that stretches to his wife AJ it seems. So you can expect to not see anything that involved either of them in this mode or any other mode. One big problem I have with that is that AJ played a big part in Daniel?s rise, from being his manager while he was World Champion, to being involved in a love triangle. None of this is included in the Showcase mode, and despite Daniel?s narration the omission makes his career look incomplete and seem as if it?s missing chunks of time.

So I still give 2K kudos for making a big step in the right direction, it?s just not with the guy I would have used for the mode. Now when you select Showcase mode from the menu it brings you to another selection screen to select Daniel?s Showcase. Weird thing about that is that his Showcase is the only one in the game. This has the conspiracy theorist in me thinking that either there was going to be a second Showcase mode that was cut from the game, or there will be another via DLC. This could be why this mode doesn?t feature as many matches as previous years, or I could just be reaching for pipe dreams. Either way, I would love to see Showcase mode improved on for next year; maybe with a ?Federation years? mode, kinda like when they did the ?Attitude Era? Showcase back in the THQ days.

Much of the gameplay glitches from last year are gone and the commentary seems improved in my opinion as well. I half jokingly, half serious told some friends after I played a couple matches that I already had a better experience with 2K19 than I did with all of last year?s game. That really speaks to how disappointed I was with last year?s release. Let?s talk a bit about this year?s roster, which is their largest (as is tradition seems to be the case every year now). Despite being their largest it has some glaring misses. For some reason, Bobby Lashley didn?t make the cut (even though he has been back with the company for more than 6 months), but conveniently he will be available via paid DLC. An even more questionable exclusion is the NXT Champion; Ciampa, who was even in 2K18. Speculation is that the pay out for being featured in these games is relatively low so they could not come to an agreement with Ciampa, Nikki Cross, and hardcore legend; Mick Foley (all of which have been in previous games). Luckily we have Create-A-Superstar, but purists will still sit boo boo faced from the lack of superstar music and commentary.

Now let?s hit some rapid fire tidbits: The MyCareer mode is now fully voiced with some ?interesting? storylines; you still need to use a created wrestler, but this mode is a must play for players who long for the career style mode of the old Smack Down vs. Raw games. The Steel Cage and Hell in a Cell matches have been redone with new cages and new mechanics, a welcome change but something not many were asking for. The frame rate in the 8 person matches has been greatly improved. Some matches were unplayable like I spoke of in last year?s review, so this improvement was a must. While there?s a few more add-ons/changes, I don?t have time to go through them all, but I had to finish up with Big Head Mode. Talk about another mode no one was asking or looking for, but this is just fun to me. Big Head Mode takes me back to WWF War Zone where it was an unlockable. I wish they included an ?arcade? gameplay switch (something like NHL does) to add some extra over-the-top fun to the Big Heads, but I guess there?s always next year.

So 2K wins this matchup, they may have won with a rollup, but a win is a win and I have to give them credit for making up on a lot of the mistakes from the past two years. Having said that, their leash is still extremely short and next year is going to have to see more substantial improvements. I also must mention the Nintendo Switch, I haven?t forgot about you guys? what 2K released last year on the Switch was a joke and should have never been even released. Rather than put out another money-grab, unsupported port, they decided to skip the Switch. I don?t know if that?s just for this year, while they get the right team in place, but the Switch is too big of a console to just miss out on WWE titles. This has nothing to do with this year?s game but I just figured I could get on my soap box for a minute and rant on how we need a WWE title for the Switch and 2K can go outside the box for once. Why not make a remake of the N-64?s beloved WWE No Mercy, while using the current roster or legends? In an age of remakes and retro style graphics, this should be an easy one (no need to thank me for the idea 2K, just make the game). Anyways, if you skipped 2K18 based on my review last year, you can feel safe in knowing this year?s game is worth playing and 2K made the best title they?ve made in years (but is that really saying a lot?).

Note: 2K provided us with a WWE 2K19 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C+