It's official -- WWE is now next-gen, but while WWE 2K15 looks and plays better than previous entries, a significant amount of content is missing compared to years past.

The biggest improvement in WWE 2K15 over years past (or even its last-gen counterpart) is, unsurprisingly, the visuals. From the sweat glistening off the Superstars to the impressively-detailed hair and outfits, the game looks fantastic running on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hardware. It's the best looking WWE game to date, but it wouldn't be anything without the painstakingly recreated faces and animations. Developer Yuke's and Visual Concepts used face and body scanning technology to bring many of the game's playable wrestlers to life, and the amount of detail in-game speaks for itself. Each Superstar, Diva and Legend appears amazingly lifelike, in part because of the new motion captured animations.

WWE 2K15 is as close to being ringside as you can get, and the game's new Showcase mode is the perfect place to put all that new graphical power on display. The single-player story mode focuses on two iconic WWE rivalries -- John Cena vs. CM Punk (2011-2013) and Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (2002-2004). Players get to relive famous matches throughout the rivalries, and, by performing certain objectives, can unlock new wrestlers and costumes. Documentary style videos in between each match help move the story of the rivalry forward. Players can download additional Showcase stories to play through as well. The 33 matches across the two rivalries provide plenty of content for the average player to fight through, and while Showcase doesn't reinvent the wheel, it's a welcome addition.

Some new features have been added in the gameplay department as well. A new chain wrestling system introduces some variety in matches by having players compete in a "rock, paper, scissors" mini-game of button presses to overcome their opponent, and allows some dramatic back and forth between wrestlers. If you aren't a fan of it, that's cool -- you can turn off the feature in the options menu. A universal health bar keeps track of overall health over the course of the match. This makes it easy to see at a glance who is winning.

The updated health meter is partnered with a new stamina bar. Over the course of the match as players perform grapples, strikes and reversals, all that physical exertion will take a toll in the form of draining your stamina. By the end, wrestlers are tired and struggling to perform their actions, adding to the drama and making events unfold more realistically. It might not sound like much fun to watch your character slowly crawl on the ground, desperate to pin an opponent with their last ounce of energy, but it honestly does make things more exciting. Once again, if the stamina system gets on your nerves, you can tone down its impact in the options. The fact that Yukes and Visual Concepts give players the option to negate gameplay features they may not be a fan of is to be commended. It allows players to further customize their experience and play WWE 2K15 how they want to play it.

That same level of customization goes into the game's creation suite. Creating a wrestler from scratch is one of the game's highlights. WWE 2K15 offers a huge amount of variety when it comes to making the wrestler of your dreams (or nightmares), and fans are only going to make it even better. For the first time, fans can import their own photos and designs into the game for other players to download and use. It's a great addition to an already extensive character creator and should prove to be an exciting feature for hardcore fans. The outfits of wrestlers on the WWE roster can be customized as well.

Your custom Superstar will be used in one of the game's new core modes, MyCareer. In this mode your freshly created character will rise through the WWE rankings, starting at the WWE Performance Center before moving to NXT and beyond. Winning (or at least losing with style) nets your character two different forms of currency which can be used to purchase new abilities and boost your character's stats. Performing well also nets you social media followers, which increases your standing in the ranks. Decisions and performances made in NXT will shape the future of your career, but for the most part the mode lacks any real sense of storytelling or drama. Your character's progression is told primarily through text messages delivered to you from various managers and Superstars -- a rather unexciting method for immersing players in the world of WWE. It doesn't help that for far too long your character is vastly underpowered, making slogging through match after match attempting to climb the ranks a chore at times.

MyCareer and the Creation Suite offer more customization than ever before, but there are still a number of creation features that fans expect missing in action here. Players can customize their move sets and abilities, but can't create arenas, Divas, entrances or moves and finishers of their own. That's a bummer, especially considering MyCareer mode is all about showing off your custom Superstar. Also missing in action are a number of exhibition matches in a variety of categories. While some are missed more than others, every fan has their favorite modes. To see so many not make the cut is disappointing.

WWE 2K15 looks gorgeous running on next-gen, and when coupled with the new chain wrestling system and creation suite it's a solid package for any WWE fan. While missing modes, a (relatively) small roster compared to years past and a MyCareer that fails to fulfill its true potential holds WWE 2K15 back from true greatness, it should serve as a solid foundation for the franchise to build upon in the years to come.

DESIGN:

★★★☆☆

GAMEPLAY:

★★★½☆☆

PRESENTATION:

★★★★☆

OVERALL:

★★★½☆☆

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