If I Ran the Zoo: WWE Games

Let’s face it, WWE games generally range from disappointing to underwhelming. Then, sometimes they outright suck. Frankly, Madden games look at them and say, “Isn’t this just a coat of paint on last year’s model?” They try to be fighting games and sports games, but since wrestling is theatrical fighting these molds are flawed.

Then again, when the game developers try to think outside of the box, we are left with games where Brock Lesnar fights construction workers.
From Wikipedia:

In Revenge Mode, a player can select any superstar on the roster (except for Stephanie and Vince McMahon) or a created superstar. The story begins with the player being dragged out of an arena by security guards and being literally tossed on the street. Later, the player encounters Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie notices that the player wants revenge on Vince McMahon for firing them, and the player and Stephanie devise a plan: to ruin Mr. McMahon’s flagship pay-per-view: WrestleMania. To do this, Stephanie sends you to various locations and you must assault the various characters you encounter in each location, destroy WWE property, including blowing up an under construction skyscraper, crashing a WWE barge, wrecking the cars in a WWE parking lot, and so on. In the process, you also kill a multitude of security guards and WWE personnel who attack you with wrestling moves by throwing them into moving traffic, off the top of the skyscraper, and off the edge of the barge into the water below, eventually going on to ruin WrestleMania XIX.

With all this in mind, I have created a “wishlist” for what I’d like to see in future WWE games. I fear that it’s already too late for WWE 2k14. The game hasn’t come out yet, but I am depressed that it focuses on wrestlers and events from 10-25 years ago and its cover star hasn’t been a full time wrestler since that Milkshake song was popular. So, here’s what I would like for WWE 2k15.

1. A Better Name than WWE 2k15.
Sure, it’s easier to organize games when you call them “Brand” followed by “The year it will be in 3 months or so.” But it is lazy, and it sucks, and I hate it.

2. Stop with the Nostalgia
Listen, I liked WCW/NWO Revenge and No Mercy as much as the next guy. Hell, I’d say I liked them MORE than the next guy. But, you know what? I do not need you to use their rosters. I don’t need to play another wrestling game as Hulk Hogan. I never really wanted to play as Hogan back when he had most of his original parts and wasn’t known for sleeping with the wives of third generation Stern rip offs.

Furthermore, filling a wrestling game with stars from the ‘80s, ‘90s and even the ‘00s tends to be a bit depressing when you realize that so many of these people are dead. Half a dozen of the characters from LAST YEAR’S WWE game are dead.

I also don’t need three versions of Triple H and the Undertaker. I don’t want my WWE Universe mode to have feuds between late ‘90s Lita and early ‘00s Lita. If you want to provide Nostalgia clothes, just give me a costume change. If I wanted to play as an outdated version of a wrestler, I can make a CAW or download a better one from an obsessive compulsive fan.

3. Stay Current!
This one is tricky. It takes time to make video games and the WWE roster changes quickly. The wrestlers who matter can change quickly.

Still, I’ve played plenty of WWE games where the storyline mode hinges on wrestlers who were fired, quit or retired prior to the game’s release. Or the wrestlers who are in the game have moves they haven’t used in years and lack moves that they are currently doing.

Here is a list of the Divas available for last year’s game, not counting DLC:
Alicia Fox
Beth Phoenix
Brie Bella
Eve
Kelly Kelly
Kharma
Lita
Nikki Bella

All right, we have Alicia Fox who hasn’t ever had a storyline or character to the best of my knowledge, Beth Phoenix who left WWE basically the day the game was released and sells things on Etsy, the Bellas who left the company six months before the game came out and who aren’t good wrestlers anyway, Eve who is now also retired, Kelly Kelly who was released from the company a month before the game came out, Kharma who was in the Royal Rumble but didn’t even really start wrestling for WWE before she left, and Lita who stopped wrestling for WWE in 2006.

So the game is called WWE ’13 and if you were playing it on February 1st 2013, Alicia Fox would be the only Diva in the game who still worked for the company.

But I guess she’s somebody’s favorite.

I know it is hard to stay current, but maybe you could offer a free DLC update or three to the people who paid $60 for a slightly updated version of the same game you release very year so that it could resemble the current TV product.

4. Bring Back Interactive Entrances!
Back when it was a popular thing to wave a Wiimote around like you were Luke Skywalker deflected laser blasts, we got interactive entrances. Sure, they were stupid, but I liked them.

You could grab a sign from the crowd and tear it up! That’s like 30% of everything I want out of a wrestling game!

See, WWE games devote a ton of energy, memory, and time into the big flashy entrances. AND WE CAN’T PLAY DURING THEM. I like to be able to play my video games. I don’t like to work on an entrance, pick a cool song, come up with all these fancy camera angles and pyro, watch it twice and then skip it forever. What’s the point? Skip them or let me play with them.

I want to be able to tear up signs, or slap hands, or hand my sunglasses to a kid, or take my shirt off and throw it to a very nice girl with poor dental hygiene. I want to be able to decide while waiting in the ring whether or not to slide out of the ring, stay in, run towards my opponent and beat the snot out of him or threaten Michael Cole with my poetry.

5. Don’t Ban Intergender Wrestling
I’m not saying I want to beat up women. I don’t. I also don’t want to get disqualified in a video game when I am attacked by a valet and reverse a move.

Violence against women is terrible. Violence against men is terrible. There is no violence in video games. Video games are pretend. They contain an artistic depiction of violence. Pro-wrestling is also pretend. We are at least two degrees of separation away from actual violence; I think it might be safe to consider men and women equals.

6. Let Me Celebrate How I Want!
I don’t remember which one, but one of the older WWE games let me be a really bad sport. You could attack people after the match.

Why am I not always afforded this option?!

If I am a bad guy who wants to “do more damage” after the match, let me! You could even have the ref do the old “reverse the decision” thing. Then I want to be able to attack the ref! OR if I lose a match by getting rolled up by an underdog, let me snap and beat him up too! If I win a nice close match with a rival, let me help them up and offer a hand shake! Then let the player decide whether or not he accepts, leaves or attacks!

Sometimes we see these things in Universe mode, but they are random and only once in WWE ’13 was I given a choice for what I wanted to do.

7. A Better Create A Finisher System
I enjoy the current system fine, but couldn’t make any of the finishers I wanted to make. I tried to make a Tombstone Lungblower or a cobra clutch suplex for my CAW Myke Quest and couldn’t do either. I tried to make a Chicago Crab for my Colt Cabana and couldn’t do it. I tried to make my weird Muta-lock armbar finisher from my short backyard wrestling career and couldn’t do it. How am I supposed to make a CAW Konnan if I can’t make a Tequila Sunrise?

ANSWER ME!

8. Branching Storylines
Remember how in No Mercy, you could lose a match in storyline mode and still play? It just changed the story. Losing a wrestling match doesn’t end a storyline, it doesn’t end a career, and most of the time it doesn’t even end a title reign. (Note to WWE: Champion loses match to challenger to set up a PPV Title match is not a good storyline to do three times a show.) Also, how you win should matter in a storyline. If you have a series of close, exciting matches you get one type of push. If you squash your opponents into oblivion you get a different type of push. Winning a match by disqualification is not the same as winning by submission. If I hold onto my title by walking out of the match it should be a different story than if I hold onto it by winning the match.

These are obvious things. These are actions that inform the characters. Characters and storylines are important in wrestling. Wrestling is theater, not sport.

Agree? Disagree? E-mail or comment below. I will answer all e-mails that say something nice about Dean Malenko.

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