WWE 2K18 (Switch) Review
For most of my life, there are 2 things I have always been super passionate about, the first and foremost of them is, of course, Nintendo. However, unbeknownst to most, the other is the wild and crazy world of Professional Wrestling, and more to the point WWF/E. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been into the greatest form of Sports Entertainment known to man. From classic wrestlers like The Ultimate Warrior, Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart to modern-day stars such as Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, AJ Styles and so on, I’ve loved watching the sport grow and become what it is over the last year on 30 years. So being a big Nintendo fan, I picked up many of the games that came along. I’d constantly rent WWF Royal Rumble for my Super Nintendo, spend ages playing WWF Superstars on my Game Boy and of course, spend hundreds of hours creating and playing as my own custom wrestler in WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64.
The last few years though have been a real dry spell for Nintendo gamers who are fans of the graps; the last Nintendo console WWE game was WWE ’13 on the Nintendo Wii back in 2012 and handheld gamers last getting WWE Allstars on the 3DS back in 2011. If you wanted to play any WWE games you had to go elsewhere to get your doses of Smackdowns, powerbombs, piledrivers, and figure four leg locks. That’s all changed now with the release of WWE 2K18 for the Nintendo Switch — so is this game the second coming of No Mercy or does it belong in the trash along with those copies of WWF Wrestlemania on the NES?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is the latter, as WWE 2K18 is one of the worst port jobs I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, the base WWE 2K game is here and it would play exactly as it does on the other systems, if not for the fact the game is plagued with technical issues that really take almost all of the fun out of playing the game.
The most noticeable issue is the slowdown, constantly throughout the game you’ll notice the wrestlers moving as if they were in molasses, everything just feels slightly off and you never feel like you have 100% 1-to-1 control over the game thanks to it. In smaller areas or less busy arenas, the slowdown isn’t as noticeable. For example, if you are playing on the classic 80’s SummerSlam set with no Titantrons or LED screens around the ring, or in one of the small NXT arenas with a small crowd count, everything goes almost smoothly. That is if it’s just a simple 1-on-1 match though. Amp things up into a bigger arena and have more than three people in the ring and the slowdown is unbearable.
The slowdown is even noticeable at the entrance for some of the wrestlers, mainly the ones with special effects. Take Finn Balor, for example, who comes to the ring surrounded by smoke — if you’re a fan you’ll know the various poses he does to match up with the musical queues in his theme — but thanks to the slowdown it’s all out of sync and just wrong. Results will differ depending on the arenas you’ve selected but it’s all really noticeable and just takes you out of it all. As a fan, I always love watching the entrances, but this has you jumping for the skip button just to get it over with as quickly as possible.
The game’s roster size as it’s undoubtedly the largest roster ever in a WWE game, with over 200 wrestlers for you to choose and unlock. From all your modern-day stars, your Roman Reigns, cover boy Seth Rollins, Sasha Banks, and Shinsuke Nakamura, to the legends of days gone by like Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, The Macho Man Randy Savage and even some lesser-known stars like Tatanka and Rick Martel of The Natural Disasters. Same goes for the selection of arenas, from various incarnations of the Monday Night Raw set, classic PPVs like a 1980’s Summerslam, or defunct promotion venues like the ECW Arena. In short, be you an old-school fan like myself or a newer one, there is a lot in here to like.
Now while the wide selection of wrestlers is a good thing, what isn’t good is the processes you need to go through to unlock them all. Pretty much all of the legends in the game are locked behind an in-game currency; to get more of this currency you need to win matches or play through the My Career mode. Sounds easy enough, right? The problem is this is all completely hampered by the load times. So what shouldn’t be that hard of a process to do is just drawn out by the excruciatingly long times between matches, or doing anything in My Career. Should you wish you, can purchase the DLC available that will auto unlock everything for you, but honestly doing that would feel like rewarding 2K for the issues present in the game.
The load times also destroy any real enjoyment that can be gotten from the create-a-wrestler mode; the whole process feels incredibly sluggish as the game has to load each individual asset. What should be a relatively simple and straightforward process of viewing the various options for your wrestler just becomes an exercise in tedium, just due to how much the whole process is slowed down. This all makes the My Career mode feel like even more of a huge time sink, as it comes after spending a good chunk of time messing around making your own wrestler. The same load times also affect the ability to create your own venue, as it’s hampered by the exact same issue. It’s a great feature to have but just not worth the time investment.
The in-game commentary is also rather annoying, now I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never been a fan of commentary in my wrestling games (give me the in-game Nu-Metal or rap from the older games any day, I need all the Dig-Diggity-Dogs please) I just hate how stilted and scripted it can all come off. Commentary in a wrestling match should be fast free-flowing and help describe the action. When wrestling games nail that its fine, in WWE 2k18 on The Switch is the exact opposite of fine. A commenter will ask a question to their partner only for there to be a long pause and then their partner will either make a completely unrelated statement or just say nothing. It honestly feels like the game is trying to put the pieces of commentary together but it just never flows right. Annoyingly I couldn’t find an option in the game to turn it off as I’d much rather play in silence than listen to what’s said.
Graphically the game on the Switch looks adequate, some of the wrestler models are off, but the rest of the game at least looks the part, but there’s no denying that the game could look better. It’s on par with what you’d get on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – the Switch can do more than that. It still doesn’t mean it runs great, as mentioned before the slowdown is completely horrible at times and even with a recent patch isn’t hasn’t done much to help things along for the majority of the game. It’s not just that it’s slow, but that it affects how the game is played and that’s just not cool. There is online play available should you want to dive in. Local Multiplayer is also present should you either want to watch your friends suffer in person or make them hate you. Lastly, there is a huge selection of modes to play, TLC, Hell in a Cell, Backstage Brawls (one of the more playable modes due to not much slowdown), Royal Rumbles and so on. These modes all have a bunch of options to configure the match to your choosing, just be wary of going for anything with more than 2 wrestlers as it’ll slow everything down to a stuttery mess.
Before I got WWE 2K18 I’d seen a bunch of reviews and impressions slamming it for the game-breaking technical issues, even when I went in with an open mind, they surely couldn’t have been that bad, right? Unfortunately, they are. I really wanted to like the game, I really wanted this to be a return to form for wrestling games on Nintendo systems. No Mercy to this day ranks as one of my top 10 all-time favourite games ever and the sole reason my Nintendo 64 is still plugged in. I feel bad calling this a bad game as I can see the makings of a good game in here, it’s just unfortunate that all the technical issues completely destroy whatever chance this game has of being even remotely playable. I like to be the optimist and hope that with a future patch these issues can be resolved but at this point, I’m not sure if 2K is going to put the effort into it. Hopefully, 2K give it a decent shot with their next attempt if they try for another wrestling game on the system, be it WWE 2K19 or the ever hoped for follow up to No Mercy, heck I’d take an Allstars 2 at this point. Until then our hopes for a decent wrestling game on a Nintendo system will be just that, hopes.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Note: This game was reviewed before right before and after the latest game patch was released, it helped – but not enough for us to change our score.