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Played in 2023
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Handling is pretty loose but whipping these cars around all the bends got pretty fun after I got the hang of it. It's only too bad there's so little locals to race in I was bored of it well before it ended.
As I'm writing this, it's about a month out from the next WWE game and the first back on the yearly schedule after a brief hiatus following 2K20. I've noticed over the past couple weeks I've been feeling more antsy and excited for 2K23 than I think I expected to be and I think it's because I'm just now realizing how much this game did that, put all together, is like a melting pot of all my favorite things from previous WWE games. It's like it was built for me specifically.
This is like a perfect blend of WWE All Stars and a grounded reality in the ring. Its got the combos like All Stars, which means if you let it you can have matches devolve into back-and-forth fast-paced brawl at any point but it also has a grapple system reminiscent of some of the older games where all the moves are performed from a lockup so you can slow the pace at your leisure. In a similar feeling from All Stars as well the combos are very solid at reflecting the kind of wrestler you're playing as. A technical guy may have a combo end in a move targeting a specific body part or end in a submission, a smaller high flyer wrestler will be more flashy in their combos like with quick kicks and a fast ending, while a powerhouse will just swing their arms around and then throw you ten feet the opposite way. This probably sounds like pretty basic stuff for a wrestling game but it wasn't until this game specifically that I thought about how each individual wrestler didn't feel as intrinsically expressive in previous games. Now I finish a session thinking about which wrestlers in the game I haven't played with much recently and get a little sad since it feels like a different experience I'm missing out on. Signature moves and finishers are earned independently of each other like All Stars meaning the matches feel less like you're just working through the same pattern again and again.
Showcase mode is something that gets a lot of negative feedback because people want older modes from previous games to return in its place. It would be cool to see some of those have a comeback maybe, but I'll never be sad to see Showcase return. Reliving some of these older moments is usually fun and they come with additions to the rosters that might have never appeared otherwise. MyRise, even though you can only play as your own created wrestler carries with it the absolutely bonkers, wrestlecrap energy of my beloved Road to Wrestlemania mode from Smackdown vs. Raw. The only real complaints I have are towards MyFaction and Universe Mode, MyFaction because it's completely pointless and only exists to be Ultimate Team equivalent that has plagued modern sports games though I wonder if it can ever become that whale hunter those games live on since it could never replicate the reasons people play wrestling games, and Universe Mode is just a technical disaster filled with glitches and crashes that I hope gets a full facelift soon.
Even with the complaints though I can't deny the simple fact that for the first time since WWE All Stars when I end a session of WWE 2K22 I never feel like I've played enough matches for the day and would rather do something else now. Back on the yearly schedule means this kind of turnaround won't happen again for a long time but I'm so satisfied with this new base that I don't feel like I'll need that reset for a long time. I'm just so excited to be this excited again!
I can't believe it...I met a musou I didn't like. I need to sit down.