The WWE2K series of games used to have an annual release schedule much like FIFA and Call of Duty.
While you would expect that each game would get progressively better as time passes, at times it has felt the opposite for 2K's version of the wrestling games.
WWE2K20 was an absolute disaster, filled with bugs and subpar graphics. It soured many fans' perspective on the series, including mine. Some may even go as far as to say that it regressed from its previous iteration, WWE2K19.
Thankfully, 2K made the right call by skipping a year of release (hence there was no WWE2K21), and worked on making WWE2K22 a better game.
Why the old games were good
The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) games were one of the reasons that I dipped my foot into the world of professional wrestling.
Besides watching WWE's (then World Wrestling Federation, WWF) RAW and Smackdown on television in the 90s while avoiding getting caught by my parents, the old PlayStation games like Smackdown (which was named after the show), Smackdown 2 and Here Comes The Pain also played a big part in instilling some knowledge about pro wrestling into me.
The old games were also very goofy (in a good way), allowing you to jump off the top of a cage or a ladder without any repercussions.
It had a very arcade-y vibe to it, and playing it with friends were a blast, especially when you could perform these crazy moves at the touch of a button.
That remains what I am looking for whenever I play a professional wrestling game. The fun factor is a must, and feeling the rush of performing a move in game makes me feel more invested in playing it.
The 2K games prior to WWE2K22 made it extremely complicated to perform even the most basic of moves.
You had to execute so many different button combinations just to do something as simple as a top-rope elbow drop.
If I feel like I am exerting more effort playing the game than actually climbing the ropes and doing an elbow drop in real life, something is definitely wrong.
To make matters worse, you had to play a silly minigame to break a submission hold, and this took me out of the immersion of playing the game. I am here to play a wrestling game, not to play quick-time events.
I am happy to report that WWE2K22 throws all of this out of the window, for good.
The best gameplay in years
The core gameplay is extremely fun.
Taking inspiration from fighting games and the games of the past, each wrestler now has a single life bar and a 'super' meter that you can build up to perform more powerful offensive or defensive moves.
While they removed the reversal system that was present in the previous games (you had to use a reversal stock to perform a, well, reversal), you are able to reverse moves by timing a button press this time around instead.
Depending on who you ask, this may be a good change for some, but it is also at the risk of having a match devolving into a reversal-fest. To me, this is fun, but your mileage may vary.
Even strikes (punches and kicks) are easily reversible this time around. A barrage of strikes can be countered if the defending player is able to press the same button as the attacking player when the attack hits.
For example, if your opponent is using X to strike you, and you manage to hit X as the strike lands, you are able to reverse the strike.
Breaking or keeping the hold of a submission has also returned to button mashing instead of going through a minigame, and that is a great change since it keeps the intensity of the match.
Doing top rope manoeuvres are also a breeze and landing moves feel very satisfying.
The graphics on the game are the best they have ever been. Granted, I am playing it on PC, but even the PlayStation version looks really good. The wrestlers have never looked better.
Sure, there are still some hilarious glitches here and there, but it isn't as widespread as the abomination that was WWE2K20.
What else does WWE2K22 offer?
Besides the core gameplay, WWE2K22 is overflowing with content, like the returning MyGM mode, where you can basically play as a General Manager of the show, making sure your show's ratings are good.
The Showcase mode, which brings you through the matches and history of a certain legendary wrestler, focuses on Rey Mysterio Jr this time around.
You can also create a character and go through a simulated WWE career through the MyRISE mode.
What really kills this game for me is the MyFACTION mode, where it tries to simulate the FIFA Ultimate model of collectible card games and instilling microtransactions into an already full priced game.
I can give this a pass since the game already has a lot of content, but this mode shouldn't be here anyway.
All in all, WWE2K22 is a good game. Personally, I felt that it was what WWE2K20 should have been, but I take what I can get. I hope 2K Games and WWE learns their lesson and not fall back to the annual release schedule that has been extremely detrimental to the series.
If you are really craving for a good pro wrestling game, this is it. WWE2K22 will not disappoint.
Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy getting headshotted in VALORANT or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.