Best WWE Games Of All Time

WWE games have fallen out of favor in recent years. There have been wrestling games that have taken a chair blow to the head and gone down for the count, and there have also been games that have “cashed in” and found a lot of success.

What players can agree on, though, is a rough ranking of the greatest WWE games for laying the smackdown on your opponents. When it comes to wrestling games, newer isn’t always better, as gameplay always takes precedence over graphics in titles that involve conflict.

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1. WWE All-Stars

WWE All Stars (Video Game 2011) - IMDb

Players appear to desire to be WWE legends like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior in every wrestling video game. Unlockable characters in the SmackDown vs. Raw series and the standalone (albeit underwhelming) WWE Legends of WrestleMania have sated this appetite in the past. In WWE All-Stars, some of the past’s biggest names are reunited with some of today’s biggest personalities.

WWE All Stars is a fun arcadey, over-the-top take at Sports Entertainment, but several annoyances limit it from being a major eventer. WWE All Stars features 30 WWE characters, including legends like Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Mr. Perfect as well as current Superstars like Triple H and Randy Orton.

The fact that so many of these people have already participated in SmackDown vs. Raw may be a turnoff, but WWE All Stars goes to great lengths to feel seeming or feeling like the simulation series that SVR is. Characters are action figure representations of themselves, complete with massive torsos and biceps.

Moves are what you’d expect from people like the Rock and Jake “the Snake” Roberts, but they’re topped off with flips, sky-high leaps, and bone-crushing hits that would kill mortal men. When I first heard about WWE All Stars, I was told that it’s like a little kid recapping a match he saw the night before. The finished product lives up to that description, and it’s a truly lovely game.

The colors are vibrant and stunning, and watching stars like Rey Mysterio soar dozens of feet in the air astounds my friends and me. I’d much rather see this revved-up and ready Macho Man action figure spinning through the air than the “realistic” rendition I’ve seen previously.

WWE All Stars has a fantastic look. Of course, the PSP version lacks the sharpness of its HD counterparts, but the cartoony aesthetics still work and look good in widescreen.

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WWE All Stars has a nice gameplay premise as well, but I believe the control method is what holds it back. There are strike and grapple buttons, health bars, finishing move meters, and a slew of other items that are simple to see and grasp for a player.

That’s really cool. It’s satisfying to be able to get in and do an unbelievable powerbomb or charge up a punch, and this is how a game trying to attract an audience drawn in by Rowdy Roddy Piper should play.

At first glance, that’s the WWF No Mercy N64 control layout, but things quickly get tricky. You can’t slip into the ring by running at it; there’s a different button for that. There’s a button for blocking strikes and another for blocking grapples, but neither of these work until you’re holding the left shoulder button, which isn’t the easiest thing to explain to someone new to the fun.

When your finisher meter is full, you tap buttons to set a taunt, but if you’re struck during the taunt, you lose it, and people seldom stay down for long, but there’s a technique to hold the buttons to taunt and have the guy get up into a dazed condition that automatically triggers the trig—

This isn’t anything I made up. It’s supposed to be a pick-up-and-play game. The fact that WWE All Stars has a wide depth of controls is a good thing. There are even character classes (Brawlers, Big Men, Acrobats, and Grapplers) with distinct skills and moves that are sure to appeal to people who are willing to put in the time to learn this game.

That concept appeals to me, but the execution does not. Because there is no tutorial to teach you the ins and outs of classes and chain grapples, I didn’t notice these nuances until I played with one of the developers. When I sat down to play with a friend, we would brawl to see who would be the last man standing. When I used to play the computer, it was inexpensive in terms of how long it stayed on the mat, but it never taught me how to link attacks together to get to the top rope.

There’s a narrow line between having a strategy and requiring expert knowledge, and I believe WWE All Stars crosses it a little too far.

You’ll use these moves in a variety of matches and modes. The gameplay is solid across the board, but the packaging is the only thing that differs. Fantasy Warfare stands out among the WWE All Stars alternatives.

The developers have set up 15 Legend/Superstar matches as a fight for a certain title, such as HBK vs. Undertaker for the title of “Mr. WrestleMania,” Mr. Perfect vs. the Miz for the title of “Perfectly Awesome,” and so on.

The matches are essentially exhibition fights, but each pairing starts with a polished, narrated video package that includes promos and WWE footage of both wrestlers. The packages are little, but they do a great job of setting up the matches and making you feel like you’re part of something big.

There are three “Paths of Champions,” although they are only ten matches in which you start with a wrestler and work your way up to facing Orton, Undertaker, or DX. There’s the occasional cutscene, but it’s mostly simply the guy you’re fighting your way to talking into the camera. Surprisingly, you can’t play the tag team path together.

Outside of that, there are exhibition matches such as cage matches, extreme rules matches, elimination matches, tag matches, and so on. Although there is an ad-hoc option, it is only a 1-on-1 exhibition or cage match. It did, however, run smoothly and was fun to see. It’s nice to have it, but it’s not spectacular.

Although the sound quality isn’t great (the commentators are excellent, but the crowd and in-ring noise sounds like it was plucked from a Genesis game), I have to admit that the PSP version is a fantastic port.

Sure, I’m giving this game the same score as every previous WWE All Stars game, but for a PSP game, that’s a big deal. Except for online play, everything from the other versions is present — in-game commentary, video content, and the overall experience are all available on the PS3. That’s saying a lot considering how many WWE PSP games are missing critical elements.

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2. WWE Smackdown Here Comes the Pain

WWE Custom Here Comes The Pain Cover in 2016 by WWEACProductions on  DeviantArt

The anticipation of its debut grows with each passing season, and its fan base’s apparently unending list of additions and requests only seems to get larger and longer with each passing year. Regardless of whether those appeals are granted, WWE Smackdown continues to sell faster than THQ can possibly publish it, with the buzz around this year’s version, dubbed Here Comes the Pain, reaching new heights.

But it’s all for a good reason, as THQ has been touting WWE Smackdown 5 as the company’s most ambitious wrestling project to date. Here Comes the Pain has made a lot of promises to its customers, including a fresh new grappling system, an enlarged career mode, and the inclusion of some of the all-time greats from the WWF (WWE) history.

While the Los Angeles-based publisher and Yukes’ Japanese development team have a few things to work on for future editions, WWE Smackdown! more than lives up to its potential. With all the hype surrounding this sucker, it had better be good.

Every year, the ever-changing roster of WWE Smackdown is one of the most talked about features of the show. Originally planned to have 69 different playable superstars, the game’s final retail version has been pared down to just four.

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Though the departure of grapplers Johnny Stamboli, Nunzio, Hulk Hogan, and the Ultimate Warrior was greeted with disdain by the game’s die-hard fans, the remaining lineup of 65 WWE superstars is still rather remarkable. In comparison, RAW 2 for Xbox has 64 superstars, whereas WrestleMania XIX for GameCube only has 45.

Despite the fact that Smackdown has a minor numerical advantage over its competitors, we can’t help but feel like there are a slew of established superstars who should have (but didn’t) made the final cut. Many established wrestlers, like as Bradshaw, Farooq, Maven, Shane McMahon, Sylvan Grenier, and Rene Dupree, are currently enjoying WWE storylines that were previously disregarded.

Even though it’s common known that the WWE has final say over all of its gaming lineups, the fact of those grapplers leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths. The WWE women’s roles are another thorn in the side of the roster. The game’s extended roster of girls, which was supposed to be included in the season mode with the men, ends up being nothing more than exhibition fodder.

At some stages in your career, you’ll be able to control a pair of ladies for a singles or tag team match, but you won’t be able to do so for a whole season. Gail Kim, Molly Holly, Ivory, and a number of other well-known female wrestlers join some of our male demands as grapplers who have been badly overlooked.

The inclusion of 11 legends was an intriguing concept, and it’s a nice approach to offset Acclaim’s popular Legends of Wrestling series, which was inexplicably absent in 2003. Unfortunately, after a few brief encounters, this specific sector of the roster quickly loses its novelty appeal.

Controlling the Old School Undertaker, the Road Warriors, and Roddy Piper is fun for a time, but when you consider their usefulness to the game versus adding 11 more active superstars, it seems like an unjust trade-off.

This roster-based nitpicking, however, should not discourage you. Despite our list of complaints, the 65 grapplers under your command behave and wrestle just as they should. With a few exceptions, every wrestler on the roster has utilized every move they’ve ever seen on television and does so with the same regularity. It’s all there, from Brock Lesnar’s incredible (but botched) shooting star press to The Undertaker’s grapple setups with the standing elbow.

Here Comes the Pain should provide fans with lots of wrestling options, easily outdoing last year’s version in terms of match formats. Players will be able to choose among singles, tag team, and six-man tag team matches, as well as handicap bouts, hardcore matches, the Royal Rumble, Survival Mode, and Main Events, which are divided into eight categories.

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The “I Quit” competition and the King of the Ring event, which were featured in last year’s Shut Your Mouth, have been completely found from the lineup.

THQ has replaced them with three new match types that are more in sync with current WWE storylines. The most basic of these, known as the First Blood Match, makes good use of the game’s new damage system; letting players to use whatever moves and weapons they want until their opponent bleeds, it’s a fun and mindless method to see who can rip the other open first.

To say that THQ and Yukes have turned this series’ fortunes around is an understatement. Smackdown would have done well even if its developers had decided to do nothing but sit back and update its roster after selling over 5 million copies in its previous versions.

Fortunately for the game’s supporters, THQ listened to their feedback and went back to the drawing board to create a product that would appeal to the public. WWE Smackdown! isn’t without its own set of problems that need to be addressed in the time. One of the best wrestling games we’ve ever played is Here Comes the Pain.

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3. WWE 2K22 

WWE 2K22: 10 Hands On First Impressions You Need To Know

WWE 2K20 had numerous well-documented flaws, to put it mildly. So, after a two-year hiatus and an apparent return to the drawing board, you’d expect WWE 2K22, the latest installment in the wrestling series, to hurl its heaviest lariat.

So far, based on my limited hands-on time with the game, it appears to have come out Cesaro swinging… largely. At first glance, WWE 2K22 does not feel to be the series’s promised drastic change. Sure, everything feels more polished and refined, but that’s to be anticipated after such a long production time; yet, when compared to the last installment in the series, things start to sparkle and the progression continues.

Beyond the noticeable improvements in visuals and sound, the major advancement feels to be in the overall presentation of the WWE product.

Camera angles and lighting tweaks, for example, help to make the simulation closer to the television experience. The ring feels to be smaller and more in proportion to the wrestlers inside. Minor changes, to be sure, but they all add to the larger goal of achieving the perfect WWE experience.

There’s also a level of attention to detail that really helps tie everything together. Little elements like music playing as soon as a pinfall is registered, genuine faces filling the Thunderdome’s screens during the epidemic era, and fan emotions and replies feel significantly more in tune with real WWE.

And I couldn’t help but smile when the crowd began singing Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance music, which you can hear on Smackdown every week. That’s not to say there hasn’t been attention to detail before, but this time it feels like the whole presentation has been a priority, especially when it comes to putting everything together in the ring.

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The new gameplay engine, which appears to have been constructed from the ground up, is perhaps the most prominent update for WWE 2K22. Again, this does not appear to be the upgrade that is advertised at first glance, but after a few matches (and after shaking off those old gameplay tendencies), I began to notice a new degree of fluidity.

Dynamic combos have replaced the tedious and place-consuming grapple mechanism. We’re not talking about complicated, Street Fighter-style quarter circles here, but by combining your light, heavy, and grab techniques, you can now do striking and grapple sequences that would feel right at home on WWE TV. It’s as simple as pressing light, heavy, and then grab to hit a dazzling pumphandle suplex right away.

The most exciting aspect of this project is how welcoming it will be for newcomers. I’ve played a lot of matches against newcomers in the past, and most of them ended in a never-ending series of strikes with no genuine flair. But now I don’t see why a novice couldn’t perform a crushing DDT right away.

That isn’t to argue that button slamming isn’t a realistic strategy. In addition to reversals, WWE 2K22 also includes three other defensive options: blocking, evading, and breakers, the latter of which is a new for the series and a significant variant on reversals.

When you and your opponent both press the same attack button at the same time, a break is established, which prevents someone from repeatedly pressing the same attack button and encourages variety in your options.

Unlike WWE 2K20, you now have infinite reversals, which, for me, caused constant swings in match supremacy, focusing the action on the drama rather than who could store the most reversals. I am, however, concerned about how easy it was for me to reverse when confronted with AI, to the point that it felt as if I could never not reverse something.

Based on my limited time with the game, I feel the reversal window may be even smaller in order to truly highlight those moments.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of WWE 2K22’s in-ring gameplay, but what I’ve seen so far seems to strike a good balance between depth and newcomer friendliness. Like some of my favorite fighting games, I immediately found myself poring over the combination lists, attempting to memorize my favorite moves, and the game rewarded my dedication by making the matches feel dynamic and exciting at all times.

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At least in the case of singles or tag teams, where the space allows for expressiveness. As with past installments in the series, having five or more wrestlers in the ring produces mayhem and interruptions, but it felt like the targeting system had been enhanced, which is a good addition.

With a pre-selected or creative character as your avatar, MyGM puts you in charge of a WWE show. I didn’t have access to the custom creator in the version I played, but I was still able to choose from on-screen characters like Adam Pearce, Sony Deville, and Stephanie McMahon.

You’re then given the task of booking the lineup for your selected event on a weekly basis, and you’ll have to deal with feuds, contracts, demanding superstars, and all the other nuances that come with putting on a successful wrestling show.

My time with MyGM was brief, but it’s evident that it’s a mode that benefits from extended playtime. However, I began my little workout and could already feel progress. The majority of my decisions felt valued and reciprocated by the weekly ratings and audience response, whether it was to establish a GM vs.

superstar feud with Shane McMahon and Montez Ford, or to boost the show’s production budget. However, instead of intelligently critiquing on a case-by-case basis, match critique appears to be heavily weighted toward pairing pre-assigned wrestler types together.

I was told that Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns wouldn’t make a good match since they’re both powerhouses, but that’s complete nonsense. WWE 2K22, based on my limited experience with it, appears to be a step up in every way.

It’s difficult to predict if these new technologies will develop the necessary depth over time, but what I’ve seen so far demonstrates tremendous attention to detail in presentation, a welcoming stride for newcomers, and a dedication to authentically reflecting the drama of a classic WWE match.

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4. WWE 2K14 WWE 2K14 - Playstation 3 : Take 2 Interactive: Everything Else

There’s a boisterous small kid recreating their favorite matches with six-inch plastic figures somewhere deep in the heart of every hardcore wrestling mark. They’re testing immovable objects against irresistible forces. They’re bending their elbows and raising their brows.

They enjoy recreating old experiences, but they are also eager to create new ones. WWE 2K14 equips any wrestling fan with the necessary tools to achieve both. Though it suffers from many of the same AI and commentary faults that have plagued the series for years, it expands on its many achievements, creating a sports-entertainment feast that can easily take dozens of hours of your time.

We saw WWE ’13’s innovative take on narrative mode, The Attitude Era, last year, and it felt like the beginning of something amazing. 30 Years of Wrestlemania, this year’s greatly expanded edition, collects 46 of the most memorable matches to ever grace the event, utilizing historically accurate objectives to make bouts like Ric Flair’s retirement match against Shawn Michaels feel like more than just another fight for the old 1, 2, 3.

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Yukes has excelled itself with this realistic recreation of WWE history, including plenty of archival footage, images, and historical accounts framing each match. Even the TV overlays and film grain from the 1980s are faithfully reproduced.

Wrestling is a type of physical theater, and being able to play along with the true-to-life highs and lows of each historic match acknowledges that aspect of performance without limiting player flexibility. Even if you aren’t old enough to mark-out over Hulk vs. Andre or even Rock vs. Austin, following the script accurately nets you some wonderfully done mid-match cutscenes, as well as some unlockable goodies, so there’s reason to play along.

There’s also a segment dedicated to The Undertaker called The Streak, where you may try to protect or end The Phenom’s 22-0 Wrestlemania streak, although it’s not as entertaining as I’d imagined.

The latter method works well as a sort of optional boss fight, although protecting the streak is curiously handled through a slobber-knocker match, which any wrestling fan knows has nothing to do with the streak. While it’s perfectly practical, it contrasts with the mode’s overall feeling of tradition and respect for history.

Aside from that minor disappointment, 30 Years of Wrestlemania features a robust and varied single-player mode that would be enough to warrant my purchase on its own. The decision to rely so heavily on the Fed’s past was wise, as it allows older fans to relive their favorite wrestling memories while providing new fans with a fun, participatory opportunity to get a taste of what they’ve been missing.

Yukes’ WWE games attempt to give us nearly every option available to real-life wrestlers in the ring, and 2K14 continues to do so without making the controls overly difficult. Matches take on a pleasing ebb and flow once you’ve mastered the ropes, similar to what you’d watch on an average Monday night.

I always felt in complete control, whether I was working the legs like The Nature Boy or working the crowd like The Brahma Bull.

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There are some significant modifications and enhancements to the way it plays this year, while there are no major changes. Characters with catch finishers, for example, can now set them up by propelling running opponents into the air first, which looks particularly amazing when massive guys like Brock Lesnar use it to pancake defenseless small cruiser-weights.

Strike combinations have been considerably sped up, and fights have become smoother and snappier with the elimination of last year’s interminable reversal cycles. In some cases, perhaps a little too snappy.

When compared to the more methodical grappling moves, the increased speed makes striking a lot more strategically viable, but it may also make them look like they’re playing in fast forward, stripping them of weight and impact. It’s a welcome shift in terms of playability, but I’d like to see the visuals smoothed out for next year.

However, there are a number of other items on that to-do list, including several long-standing faults that have plagued WWE games for years.

Even when it has you dead-to-rights, the slightly better AI still stands there slack-jawed, collision detection gets shaky when more than two wrestlers are near each other, and the commentary remains unnecessarily broad and fragmented. I grew up listening to JR and Lawler call matches, so it’s all the more sad that they’re taking away from the experience now.

It’s easy to whine about a few trees, but this forest is enormous and dense. The creation suite in WWE 2K14, for example, is mind-boggling in terms of scope and depth. As always, you have complete control over practically every aspect of the game, from game balance to rosters and venue selection.

For wrestler entrances, you may match camera cues with creative pyrotechnics, create people with pink hair and devil horns, or give Chris Jericho a tattoo he should never, ever acquire in real life. You may also utilize the powerful narrative creator to plan, write, and lead branching plotlines for existing shows, or simply create your own to go crazy with.

WWE 2K14 may make the brains to give acceptable AI and commentators, but it more than lacks up for it with brawn. 30 Years of Wrestlemania delivers the series’ best campaign backbone in years, the in-ring action is faster and more fluid than it’s ever been, and because to WWE 2K14’s ever-expanding creation suite, we’re swimming in more options than we ever knew we wanted.

“It’s time to play the game,” as they say. WWE 2K14 may make the brains to give acceptable AI and commentators, but it more than lacks up for it with brawn. 30 Years of Wrestlemania delivers the series’ best campaign backbone in years, the in-ring action is faster and more fluid than it’s ever been, and because to WWE 2K14’s ever-expanding creation suite, we’re swimming in more options than we ever knew we wanted. “It’s time to play the game,” as they say.

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WWE 2K14 may make the brains to give acceptable AI and commentators, but it more than lacks up for it with brawn. 30 Years of Wrestlemania delivers the series’ best campaign backbone in years, the in-ring action is faster and more fluid than it’s ever been, and because to WWE 2K14’s ever-expanding creation suite, we’re swimming in more options than we ever knew we wanted.

“It’s time to play the game,” as they say. The in-ring action is faster and more fluid than it has been in years, and thanks to WWE 2K14’s constantly expanding creation suite, we’re swimming in more options than we ever knew we wanted.

30 Years of Wrestlemania provides the strongest campaign backbone the series has had in a long time, the in-ring action is faster and more fluid than it has been in years, and thanks to WWE 2K14’s constantly expanding creation suite, we’re swimming in more options than we ever knew we wanted.

5. WWE 2k Battlegrounds

Wwe 2k Battlegrounds - Playstation 4 : Target

The WWE 2K series has had a terrible couple of years, with WWE 2K18’s switch port being a near-unplayable mess and WWE 2K20 being a buggy nightmare (on all platforms), resulting in the core series taking a much-needed year off.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds has taken its place, a cartoony and arcadey take on professional wrestling in which wrestlers may jump 50 feet in the air, swing opponents like rag dolls, chuck them into crocodiles’ waiting jaws, and so on.

On theory, that seems like an interesting break from the simulation-focused main series in favor of something more comparable to 2011’s unappreciated WWE All Stars… but beyond the spectacular animations, there’s absolutely nothing.

It may be simple to pick up and play, but neither its combat nor its roster of 70 wrestlers, the most of whom are locked behind a microtransaction-infested barrier, have much depth.

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One advantage of WWE Battlegrounds is that, unlike many other wrestling games, it is immediately intuitive. Chain wrestling, timing-based pin minigames, cat-and-mouse submission minigames, how to set up and climb ladders in ladder matches, how to place your opponent on a table in a table match, and so on are all things you won’t have to worry about.

All you have to do to teach someone how to play is hand them a controller and say, “Here’s your punch button, here’s your kick button, this is how you throw, this is how you block, remember to press the button on screen when you get grabbed to do a reversal, and if someone tries to pin or submit you, just mash these buttons.” Done.

This puts Battlegrounds in a unique position as the most simple wrestling game in years for complete newbies, but it also comes at a significant cost.

Its combat, in particular, lacks any resemblance of depth or complexity. For a wrestling game, especially an arcadey one, the movelist for each character is incredibly short, with each wrestler possessing only a few basic combos and throws.

Worse yet, practically every wrestler in the Powerhouse, Brawler, All-Rounder, Technician, or High-Flyer classes has these moves copied and pasted onto them. As a result, Shinsuke Nakamura has nearly identical moves to The Miz, Charlotte Flair has nearly identical moves to Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H has nearly identical moves to Andre the Giant.

There are a few minor differences, such as a few select characters having one or two unique moves, and each character has their own signature and finishing move. Aside from that, these characters are interchangeable.

At the very least, each of the five classes has a few distinguishing characteristics. Powerhouses are slow, yet their attacks can withstand their opponents’ blows; Brawlers have the ability to create weapons out of thin air, such as steel chairs and motorcycles, and their hits have increased potency.

Technicians have incredibly powerful throws and can even injure opponents’ limbs, causing them to stagger for a short time. High-Flyers can jump off the ropes, throw running throws, and get to the top rope faster than other classes, while All-Arounders can do it all.

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It’s similar to what WWE All Stars did with its class system, but this time it’s more about defining what specific interesting things you can and can’t do than it is about defining a style of play.

Apart from the bad hit detection, the reversal mechanism is my major problem with Battlegrounds’ gameplay. It just allows you far too much time to reverse throws and attempts to compensate by making throws cost a percentage of your Heat meter, which is used to execute your signature and finishing moves.

As a result, many of my most competitive Battlegrounds online matches were also among the most depressing: we just took turns reversing everything, with neither of us making much progress toward the match’s conclusion. Then there are the standard match types, such as steel cage matches, triple threats, fatal fourways, and so on.

The issue with all of these is that Battlegrounds’ gameplay is tuned in such a way that characters get back up super quickly after being knocked down; this makes match types like traditional tag matches, Triple Threats, and Fatal Fourways, where the first player to get a pin wins, a nightmare because it’s so damn hard to keep everyone down long enough to secure a three-count, a nightmare.

Years ago, the core WWE 2K series handled this by kicking you out of the ring and requiring you to take a little respite if you took too much damage, however Battlegrounds lacks this feature.

Finally, as much as I admire Mauro Ranallo and Jerry Lawler, their commentary is excruciating to hear. Not because of their performances — they do a fantastic job of transferring their on-camera energy to the voice over – but because their calls are usually incorrect.

It’s basically one flub after another, whether it’s yelling out the wrong moves, continuously reacting to something incredibly late, repeating language, or overreacting to a routine move.

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