Sports video game fans get new iterations of their favourite games each year. It is no different with the WWE wrestling game series, which is refreshed around October. For this year though, its developers Yuke's and Visual Concepts have decided to stop support for last-generation consoles.
This breakaway from outdated hardware has allowed them to introduce fresh enhancements.
The menu layout is reworked to make it less cluttered and for easier navigation of options.
One of the features that has made every release unique is the roster, and this year's is massive with selected personalities from three current brands of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) - RAW, Smackdown and NXT. The roster also includes past legends who have retired or died.
There is also much diversity due to WWE's recent recruitment of wrestling personalities from various ethnic groups and regions.
Fans of female wrestlers will be pleased to know that there are more women superstars, ranging from those from the last decade to fresh entrants. All together, there are about 170 characters, with more expected in future downloadable content. This year, the spotlight is on Kurt Angle, last seen in action 11 years ago, and also on Dave Batista, now more well-known as Draxx from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
If the extensive roster is still not enough, you can download more from this game's player community. The WWE game community has creative players who have come up with very lifelike representation of superstars, including those missing from the main library and famous movie personas.
PRICE: From $84.90 ( PC, PS4, the version tested; Xbox One)
GENRE: Sports brawler
With a new graphics engine, you will notice huge improvements in the character models, animation, lighting, effects and crowd response. A new carry-and-drag mechanic allows you to perform more moves, while unique animations can be triggered if the set-up is done right. Some matches allow eight players in the ring at once and the play becomes as chaotic as what you see on WWE live shows.
This ability has been highly requested over the years and a fan favourite when it was introduced in the WWF: Just Bring It! game back in the days of Playstation 2.
Face paint damage and the ability to perform those pull-down-attire-straps poses add realism to the experience. Also available is the highly-anticipated backstage brawl area.
Career Mode allows you to take your created character through a simulated journey to the top in a free-roam backstage setting. It allows you to meet and interact with superstars and complete quests.
This seems interesting in theory, but the experience is marred by the lack of voice work, animation and multiple load screens. Even the blasting of music in the background, which is selected by executive music producer Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, will not sustain interest for long.
One reason to keep playing and levelling up is so that you can qualify for Road to Glory, where all the created characters convene online and compete for high-tier rewards.
WWE 2K18 does not include an option to use real money. However, each of the items unlocked from the loot crates comes tagged with a Virtual Currency (VC) price, and you have to pay before the item can be used. For that, you can purchase a kick-start add-on which provides 50,000 VC at $14.
Or you can get the Deluxe Edition of this game, which includes the kick-start add-on and future downloadable content for $129.
•Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer.
•Verdict: WWE 2K18's massive roster and expanded match area provide for many fantasy clashes between superstars of various eras, but a few underlying issues may affect the attention span of its fans.