WWE Immortals iOS Review
WWE always positions itself as a larger than life spectacle when it airs on TV. Some weeks it may not live up to that self titled billing, but when the company decides to get its act together it can produce some great, shocking, memorable moments. For years various companies and developers have been trying to capture the fleeting greatness that WWE can achieve in video game form, but for the most part they fail. If you are not the kind of person that likes funny videos on the internet, mainline WWE games (now published by 2K, but still tainted by Yuke’s) continue to be a letdown.
There was WWE All Stars though, a game that reached for the brass ring and succeeded where others had failed. I have said it countless times, to anyone in earshot that will listen to me, that it was the closest we got to a great WWE game in years. It had wrestling in it, but it was not obsessed by that alone. It was not afraid to be over the top, and go wild for the sake of letting players have fun. WWE All Stars was a zanier version of WWE that could only exist in video game form, and was all the better because of it.
Now we have WWE Immortals.
WWE Immortals is certainly not obsessed with anything resembling real world logic. It is probably the most outlandish WWE game released since back in the PS1 days. For the most part, this is due to the fact it looks to the supernatural and fantasy realms to give WWE Superstars extraordinary superpowers and attire that match up, at least in some small way, with their current wrestling personas. Kane is now actually a demon, The Rock is a stone monster, and Roman Reigns looks like a Centurion in the Roman Army (which makes Roman look strong), and Undertaker is a necromancer for Christ sake.
Not everything matches up. Newcomer Diva Paige likes ravens for some reason. Nikki and Brie Bella are a strange mix of Mortal Kombat’s Mileena and Kitana mixed with Sub Zero and Scorpion. Big Show can look like a hulking lumberjack if you want him to be (for reasons unknown to humans). And Trish Stratus is an angelic looking witch – maybe that’s a side effect of Yoga?
Before progressing further I should probably highlight WWE Immortals is a 3v3 Fighter. There is no squared circle in sight, but there are some wrestling moves to be seen. As the game is a touch based platform exclusive, the fighting engine has been pared down significantly compared to its console based big brothers. Taps on the screen are for light attacks, and swiping the screen does heavy attacks. Both of these can be comboed to deal extra damage. If a character gets dazed you get a few seconds to swipe in a particular direction to do a slightly more impactful move like a dropkick or shoulder charge. Holding two fingers on the screen to block is the last of the basic movesets all characters share. Diligent fighting builds a three-tier meter located at the bottom of the screen. This is used for three signature attacks unique to each character. Some of these can have a connection to moves the wrestlers actually use in the ring, but can also just be batshit insane for the sake of having fun.
The fact that the game has so much fun with its source material is probably why I like it so much. Whilst WWE 2K15 and many of its predecessors can feel very stale, Immortals, even though it has many limitations due to its chosen platform, seems a much livelier game. You have Kane who can set people on fire with moves. Brock Lesnar who can tear up the ground with the force he tosses people into it. Then there is John Cena who looks like Superman – which is an hilarious reference if you follow today’s product. Amazingly, he can have his opponents run over by a Humvee. That is both an amazing sentence to write and quite a sight to see. The designs for all the characters along with the moves they do are bizarre, kooky, and wonderful in equal parts. It feels like the artists involved in their creation had fun doing their jobs. Whoever they are, you have done a wonderful job. Thank you! In a perfect world, this whole game could be a fully-fledged console release with a ton more nutty but talented people involved. If it was I would buy it in a heartbeat.
Outside the fighting, gameplay revolves around levelling up your wrestlers and equipping them with items. At first glance the system is basic – a higher level means more HP and bigger attack numbers. However, digging a bit deeper shows there is some depth to be had. Characters can equip different gear and enhancements that further boost damage and improve HP. These stat boosters can be equipped pre-fight, but some character’s signature moves can temporarily boost stats mid-fight as well. There is even a “team chemistry” system at play, so like minded characters will have boosted stats if they are in a team together. None of these systems are hugely complex – you wont need a spreadsheet to suss out the best setup – but they are much deeper than I was expecting going into the game.
Other parts of levelling up are tied in with the game’s Free To Play systems. With this been a F2P game, you can expect it will poke at and annoy those not wanting to pay to play. Regretfully, there are some annoyances in the game that stand out, but thankfully there is substance to gameplay if you don’t want to pay. The main point of concern will likely be the implementation of an energy system that limits how much you can play. Each character has 10 units of energy, and participation in a fight burns at least one unit – early fights burn one, later fights can burn two units. All three of your chosen characters need the required amount of units to fight. This looks to be a bit of a hassle early on, but seeing as the game gives 15 free refills from the get go, and seems to hand out refills for finishing some fights, early hours with the game are kinder than expected. Between patiently waiting for energy (on a 12 minute timer), and diligently using refills, I was never forced into paying for playtime. Also, once you have six characters (which will take some time if you want to play for free), that effectively means you’ll two teams you can swap between, meaning double the playtime.
The other F2P part of the game is accruing coins that can be traded in for a range of items – characters themselves (higher tier characters are more expensive), gear (that can be equipped by the aforementioned characters), or packs (that give random gear/characters when opened). It looks like every character and piece of gear is available to buy separately with the coins, but are more expensive if you want to buy them outright. If you are up for rolling the dice, and letting a Random Number Generator decide your fate, card packs are the way to go. They are the cheaper option, and you will get something good, but it might not be exactly what you want. These coins can also upgrade each of the character’s three signature moves – with the final (usually more ludicrous move) been a level 20 unlock – which is a time investment to get, and longer to level.
Coins for all of the above can be earned by winning events. To be fair, the game hands out a decent amount as you play – so much so I was able to buy a Gold Pack (the highest tier available), after around 6 hours with the game. Out of this pack I got two pieces of gear, and one Gold Tier Character for my investment. There is an online mode in the game too, but you don’t go up against live players – instead you line up against AI controlled teams based on those of real players. Beating these teams unlocks even more coins, gear, and enhancements to improve your team. If you want to speed this process up, the game will happily accept your credit card information to buy some coins. I never felt compelled to go down that road though – and I applaud the game for that.
For someone that truly enjoyed WWE All Stars and not much else WWE gaming related in recent years, it is nice to see an interesting product arise bearing the WWE name again. Immortals is not perfect by any means, and has its fair share of downsides – alongside those that inherently come with the game been a F2P release – but for some reason I like it. Touch controls may mean the game’s fighting engine is limited, F2P may mean playtime is sometimes restricted, and it may have Michael Cole shouting at the start of every bout, but for some reason I still like the damn thing. I am not sure if the bar for good WWE games has fallen shockingly low, I am easy to please, or if this truly is a better game that its F2P nature initially suggests. I am still playing though, and I think I will keep playing after this review is done.
I like WWE immortals despite myself, itself, and everything else. That’s a good thing, right?