WWE Hell in a Cell, WWE 2K14 video game in October


Miami Herald Writer

It will be an exciting end of the month for WWE in October with the Hell in the Cell pay-per-view occurring in Miami and the anticipated WWE 2K14 video game hitting store shelves.

As the game inches closer to the Oct. 29 release date for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, developers at 2K Sports continue to make exciting announcements.

Cory Ledesma, creative director, hosted a conference call to share details on a mode within the “30 Years of WrestleMania” single-player campaign titled “The Streak.” It’s dedicated to The Undertaker and his 21-0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania.

“When we came up with the ‘30 Years of WrestleMania’ concept, we knew we wanted to really pay homage to The Undertaker,” Ledesma said. “The streak by itself is extremely impressive, and he is synonymous to WrestleMania in a number of ways. So we wanted to do something special that really pays tribute to his accomplishments and his years in WWE and what that meant for the WrestleMania events.”

Fans can expect two different game types they are able to play. The first is to defend the streak, allowing players to use The Undertaker against wave after wave of opponents. There is the opportunity to beat as many of them as possible in a row in keeping the most celebrated record in sports entertainment intact.

There is another similar mode that will also be available in exhibition called “The Slobberknocker”, a term made famous by legendary WWE broadcaster Jim Ross. It’s a gauntlet style contest where after you beat one opponent another follows. It’s an endurance battle where health carries over and players can see how many superstars a particular person can take out.

A match score is generated afterward, which can be uploaded to online leader boards. This way fans can see how they stack up to the rest of the WWE Universe. The match scoring system tracks different aspects such as how much drama is built (Were there many two-counts or reversals?), excitement (Were you doing a lot of finishers or OMG moves?) and offensive diversity (Did you switch up your attack?). There are also bonuses for whether or not special abilities were used or not. The key was to create replay-ability, where fans want to work to top their last high score and make it to the front of the leader board.

The second part of “The Streak” sees players change roles as the one who is trying to stop The Undertaker from going undefeated. You can select any WWE superstar to face the legend, including custom creations. There is a fifth difficulty level, an addition from the usual easy, normal, hard and legend. It’s the Undertaker at WrestleMania difficulty level. Here, developers have given the future WWE Hall of Famer abilities only seen in this match.

This includes many of his paranormal actions over the years. For The Undertaker turning the lights out in the arena right at a time where an opponent is going for the pin. There is also a match score also generated whether you win or lose. If you do beat The Undertaker you not only get a match score, but a win bonus and can upload the total to the leader board. Within “The Streak” mode you can review all of the Dead Man’s past WrestleMania victims, history and photographs, as well as bonus items to unlock if you fill an objective. There is also a section to review stats.

As for who from the actual WWE roster Ledesma believes has a shot at ending The Undertaker’s streak in the game, he can narrow down the choices.

“The Miz for sure has not chance whatsoever,” Ledesma said.

“He can get all the practice in he wants, and I can be coaching him and helping him. No chance whatsoever. The guy who has a lot of talent backstage in the locker room and is very good at the game and someone who can really give The Undertaker a good run for his money is Kofi Kingston. Not only is he a gamer, but he is awesome at WWE games each year.

“He is usually in our tournament and kicking butt there. So I know he has some mad skills and mad game when it comes to the WWE products. He hasn’t played WWE 2K14 yet, but I know he is going to able to pick it up quickly and give The Undertaker a run for his money.”

Over the years those working on WWE video games have been fans themselves, which helps. However, what really gives the releases its true authenticity is the teams having access to the talents themselves.

“We really relish in getting to interact with the WWE superstars and divas because we are trying to recreate their personalities and passion in the product and as much information as we can get,” Ledesma said.

“It really benefits us and motivates us and gets us excited about created the game. So we welcome that feedback. A lot of times it just comes in small waves and details…We make sure we account for the nuances during the motion capture because we really like when fans can pick up on that detail and really appreciate it that. With ’30 Years of WrestleMania’ we worked really close with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler during commentary.

“We actually had all the matches scripted out. We really loved getting all their feedback on certain ways we should call a match or certain things that were relevant at the time they want to throw in. Maybe they want to adlib with a lot of the recording. They are really good with that and are professional…A lot of times the WWE superstars and divas are kind of awestruck when they see themselves in the game. They just get kind of blown away by how lifelike they look. It’s a little strange at times for them and exciting. A lot of times they are really exciting at a loss for words sometimes. Some times in the past they’ve given us feedback on certain moves they do and thinking about introducing.

“Probably asked the most is the gripes about the overall scores and attributes. We get a lot of that as well. We hope it’s all in good fun, but some people can be very intimidating. Mark Henry for example really did stare me down when he was looking at his attributes. It made me sweat quite a bit. He had some opinions on where how he should rate in certain categories, and I took that into account. We don’t want to be bullied by every WWE superstar about their attributes. Joking aside, they are awesome to work with…”

Ledesma provided insight on how the roster is formulated. He says every year they start with the single-player campaign as the large part of defining the list, which has been going the historical route lately. They also define the legend roster.

The current roster they have to lock it in earlier to get all models in time and get game finished. There are ones they know are going to be in the game and ones that come out of nowhere to debut and make an impact (The Wyatt Family). There is usually a top 25 roster in the early stages. It’s around WrestleMania to late April they need to finalize the roster.

The majority of the up-and-coming stars that are introduced to viewers on TV honed their skills at NXT. The WWE’s developmental territory’s stars have acquired its own legion of fans and boosted its profile. For Ledesma, NXT’s evolution hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“We actually talked about it as a team quite a bit,” Ledesma said. “We have definitely recognized that shift, and NXT has such amazing talent. A lot of times we are watching that show in the office on Hulu and are completely blown away by the performances and the quality of talent they have down there. We talk about ways we can incorporate NXT more in the product and how we can go about doing that. We don’t have anything super extensive in WWE 2K14. We do have the NXT Arena.

“We do have the NXT championship to use. We do have the NXT logo in a lot of the creation modes to repurpose that and use that to create arenas and whatever you like. When it comes to the actual show and talent itself, we are still looking at exploring the best route to go in including those assets in the game.

“One of the things we want to be careful about is sometimes WWE superstars and divas get called up from NXT and end up on the Raw and SmackDown shows. Then it’s how we handle that and approach that and the best route. There is no denying NXT becoming as a company and how much great talent is down there, and it’s really up to us to figure out a way to incorporate NXT into the game…I can’t confirm things we are looking at or make declarations. For me, I think it’s a huge priority to include NXT in a big way in the product in the future.”

• Follow Cory Ledesma on Twitter @RealCoryLedesma.

• For the latest updates on WWE 2K14 follow @WWEGames.

• WWE 2K14 will be released in the United States on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

• Tickets are on sale for WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view Sunday, Oct. 27 from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Tickets are available at the box office and ticketmaster.com or charge by phone by calling 1-800-745-3000. John Cena will challenge Alberto Del Rio for the world championship, and Daniel Bryan faces Randy Orton for the vacated WWE championship with Shawn Michaels as special referee. Visit www.wwe.com for updates and full card.

• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.

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