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Game Masters: ‘WWE 2K18’ review — going for the pin

The latest instalment in the long-running series of games comes with more to do than ever before

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The lights go out, smoke starts rising and the sound of a heartbeat reverberates through the arena. Then the darkness gives way to a sinister red glow, and distorted guitars drown out the noise of the excited crowd.

Any WWE fan knows what comes next: the appearance of Finn Balor in his Demon form, a sight sure to scare children and to get the men and women cheering (for slightly different reasons, perhaps).

Balor has one of the most exciting and engaging entrances in WWE, and as any professional wrestling fan can tell you, having a great entrance is almost as important as having great in-ring and microphone skills. It’s only logical then that any great wrestling game would need to capture this aspect of the sports entertainment world accurately if it too is to be classed among the greats, and I’m happy to report that WWE 2K18 does this better than any of its predecessors.

Take your pick

The quality and attention to detail continues when your chosen superstar enters the ring. You get to pick from a massive roster of WWE stars past and present (1997 HBK!), and they’ve never looked as good as they do now that the game no longer has to also run on hardware from the previous console generation.

All the superstars’ signature moves are of course there, and they are perfect virtual recreations of their real-life counterparts.

When you get tired of setting up some dream matches that would be impossible in real life, you can use the incredibly impressive creation suite to build your own superstar, complete with a custom moveset and entrance.

The MyCareer and Universe modes return with some new features, including the ability to walk around the backstage area and interact with other superstars.

There’s so much to do, whether you’re taking on the AI in one of the many offline modes, or testing your skills against real-life opponents in the online ones, that you’re never going to run out of things to do. If you do manage to do that, however, it should be just about the time the next instalment of the series is released.

It has to be said that loading times can be a bit long, and promos and commentary aren’t the greatest, but they don’t detract from the experience enough to be considered real issues.

What would the Phenomenal One do?

AJ Styles is considered by many to be the top performer in the professional wrestling world today, and Game Masters had the chance to chat to him about WWE 2K18. While WWE Superstars have a very busy schedule, Styles said that when they get to an arena early they often take some time to have some 2K18 matches on Xbox One or PS4. Asked which of the many superstars from years and decades past that are featured in the game he wished he had the chance to face, his answer came immediately.

“The Macho Man,” Styles said. “I believe that would be a different kind of match. I think that’d be cool. The Macho Man versus AJ Styles.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Buy or not?

If you’re a WWE fan, I highly recommend WWE 2K18. Even if you already own last year’s game, there’s enough new content and superstars here to make the urge to lace up your digital wrestling boots irresistible.

Score: 8/10

Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC