Another year, another wrestling game. For me, it’s supposed to be a nostalgia trip. Having enjoyed WWE up to its Attitude era, I enjoyed the games that came out back then like WWF Attitude and Smackdown on the PS1. Fast forward to today where I could hardly recognize anyone anymore, it was such a huge culture shock to see the WWE in its current state. A whole new slew of wrestlers including some badass women, out of this world storylines and gimmicks, and even stunts so wild that you can’t help but wince at the sight. The long lost fan in me was stirring, but WWE 2K20 was probably not the best way to get me back into the squared circle.
You may have already heard about how much of a disasterpiece this game is, but it’s not without its merits.
To be fair about it, WWE2K20 is still pretty much the standard wrestling package you’ve come to enjoy over the past years. There are numerous single and multiplayer modes and matches to choose from, like your usual one-on-one and falls count anywhere to the chaotic Royal Rumble. If you’ve ever watched a pay per view that offered some match with not so “normal” conditions, chances are you’ll be able to play it here as well. Modes are plentiful and at least for this part, there’s a lot of variety to go around.
The game also keeps track of stats like your most used wrestlers so my playtime will show what age I grew up in since it’s mostly the familiar names like Rey Mysterio or Kane. Hey, I did say I was a WWF baby. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
MyCareer was a particular highlight for me because it was the mode where I could partially fulfill a fantasy, as I’m sure most of the wrestling fans out there would feel the same. We’ve all had our brief moments when we thought we could pull of those things in the safety of our own home and MyCareer is the closest thing we could get to seeing our a representation of us in the ring.
In this mode you can customize quite a number of things for your up and coming superstar. Appearance, ring entrances, move set… most anything wrestling related that you can think of is here. There’s actually more to unlock using points that you gain as you play, which you can also use to unlock more wrestlers to choose from. To be honest, it’s all fun and games until you get to actually see your creation. Or anything else for that matter.
I had to do a double take. Is my PS1 or PS2 switched on? Was I suddenly thrust 10 years back? WWE2K20, for lack of a better term, featured graphics that had no reason to exist in this day and age. The character models, the arenas, the backstage, the faces… There’s just no way around it, the graphics look downright horrible and not something worthy of the current or even the previous generation. Clunky animation and bad collision detection plague the game as well, as you’ll see your wrestler have their own match with the ropes for quite a number of times that we wouldn’t want to count.
Compared to most sports games, part of wrestling’s appeal relies on the showboating, flashy costumes, bright arenas, and the wrestlers themselves and while the costumes look great for some like Bray “The Fiend” Wyatt, I really can’t say the same for some of the face models or even just the overall graphical quality of the game. It’s a total letdown to see the game fail so much on this department, especially since the customization options are plentiful and there is quite a lot to play around with.
It’s a damn shame, because barring the outdated graphics and bugs, the game does offer some semblance of fun. If you’re a first timer, the controls have a pretty steep learning curve due to the numerous commands you can execute and like any fighting game, you’ll need to dedicate some practice to get good in (and sometimes out) of the ring. Once you get the hang of it though, it’ll feel like second nature.
Apart from the standard set of moves, you can also execute a well time button counter to perform a flashy finisher to seal the match and the game actually captures the rush of adrenaline when successfully pulling off these maneuvers. It’s a good feeling to be had, especially since you’ll get countered pretty bad if you don’t pull it off, so these moments were actually great highlights during matches even if they are few and far in between. The game also does a good job of capturing the overall feel of watching a WWE match, thanks to the replays as well as the competent Commentary.
Circling back to MyCareer, unlike in NBA 2K20 where the story for the latest installment was an actual improvement, WWE2K20 falls flat like a failed frog splash. The story is nothing to write home about and the writing is pretty questionable overall. “That’s right, I’m going to give your grandmother bed sores”? Graphical problems aside, the bad voice acting and mismatched timings on the spoken lines during dialogue make it feel like watching a dubbed telenovela that gets tiring pretty quickly.
You can really see extremes in production value here and unfortunately, WWE2K20 gets the very short end of the stick not just in MyCareer, but in the overall package that I’m sure Roman Reigns would have probably said “I can’t I won’t” if he knew it was going to end up this way.
What we liked:
- Decent customization options
- Core gameplay is actually fun when it works properly
What we didn’t like:
- It’s like the game never passed quality assurance
- Outdated graphics and clunky collision detection
- Cringey MyCareer writing and story
Verdict: Trash it!
I’ll be honest here, I really wanted to like WWE2K20. It’s been a while since I’ve played a Wrestling game and those memories were nothing but fun but it was a huge disappointment for me to see and play this installment of the long running series at its current state. Wrestling is a heavily theatrical and visual experience but the presentation and blandness of it all makes it really hard to recommend it as a full priced purchase. I’m uneasy recommending it even at 50% off because of some other titles out there that would be a better $30 purchase over this one.
If you’re a hardcore WWE fan then by all means. As mentioned, the core gameplay is fun IF and when it works properly. And I guess looking at the bright side of things, seeing your wrestler do his thing with the ropes would technically count as entertainment, but even then I’d still at least recommend waiting for a sale. A big, big, big, discounted sale. The fun can only last for so long, especially if you have to put up with graphics like that.
*WWE2K20 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publisher.