Wrestling games might not be to everyones taste – but they certainly deliver a hefty punch for their buck. Gamers love taking up the role of their favourite Superstars and playing out their fantasy matches. Yet not every great wrestling game comes from WWE’s madhouse. There are plenty of wrestling games that make a strong shout for the best wrestling games?
Which ones should you check out? Find out in our list below (Also, check out our shouts for the worst WWE games of all time!
10. Def Jam: Fight For New York (PS2, 2004)
Arguably the most interesting game on this list, Def Jam: Fight for New York began existence as a WCW video game. AKI Corporation were back in the drivers seat and everything looked great, until WCW went under. With no direction, the company partnered up with EA for the sequel to their Def Jam game.
The sequel is arguably better in every way, making clever use of wrestling mechanics that made WWE No Mercy such a draw. It’s hard to take it so seriously though, as the game launches rapper after rapper in your face. Thanks to a solid core though, the entire experience is well worth a look for those who wish to see wrestling games reach beyond the squared circle. (It also showcases how these backstage games should have been done).
9. WWE2K17 (PS4, Xbox One, 2016)
I was very hesitant to put this one on here – if only because it looks set to be superceded by the imminent arrival of WWE2K18. But we have to remember that 2K17 finally righted the ship that 2K had steered way off course years earlier.
In came a number of new features, such as the (hugely flawed) promo engine – allowing gamers to finally have a hand in crafting the direction of on screen characters.. The career mode was fully fleshed out, delivering a solid single player experience for gamers. Add in the fact that gamers could finally go all out on customizing their Universe Modes, turning shows into the wonderful and weeird creations of the dreams, 2K17 was amassive step up from the previous years offerings.
8. Fire Pro Wrestling World (PC, 2017)
The return of the iconic isometric wrestling series is arguably the best ever – and the game isn’t even out of Steam’s Early Access yet.
With an exhaustive selection of match types (Including landmine deathmatches), MMA setups and a heap of customisation – there’s plenty for modern gamers to get their teeth into. While the style may not win over everyone – the charming throwback to SNES and Genesis era games fits perfectly in with the tone of the entire package. Well worth a look if you fancy trying a great modern non-WWE game.
7. Smackdown 2: Know Your Role
Arriving hot on the heels of its predecessor – Smackdown 2 took everything PlayStation gamers loved about the original game and turned it up to 11. The backstage area was massively expanded – creating an almost endless maze of areas for gamers to run around fighting in.
What really sets Smackdown apart from most games though is the arcade approach to its gameplay. Where modern games strive for realism, this was a game that relished in being as over the top as possible. It also helps that the career mode in this game is easily one of the better attempts from WWE games.
With a huge roster of iconic stars and a lot of ways to make them fight – Smackdown 2 certainly knew how to make fans get excited.
6. WWE All-Stars (PS3, 360, 2011)
THQ really knocked this one out the park, offering up a hugely surprising outing for a game that really.
The game takes a step back from the serious approach that the main line of games takes – instead delivering an over the top arcade outing that genuinely stands out. What really elevates the game is the exciting mechanics. It’s easy to throw out flashy moves and deliver the kind of smackdown that isn’t possible in other wrestling games.
Who else wishes that 2K would take a look at this propety again?
5. WCW/nWo Revenge (N64, 1998)
Right around the peak of NWO’s popularity, this AKI game (You’ll be seeing more of their work on this list) landed – blowing away pretty much everything WWF was offering up at the time (Probably explains why they brought AKI on board for the N64 games).
WCW/nWo Revenge is a precursor to the WWF Wrestlemania/No Mercy games – offering smooth wrestling mechanics in an entertaining WCW package. All the favourites are here – from Hulk Hogan through to Sting. What really helps this game to stand out though is brilliant gameplay experience.
From here, it was all down hill for WCW. None of this games sequels (developed by other companies) came close to matching this game.
4. WWE2K14 (360, 2013)
The first WWE game to be released under the 2K banner but the final one developed under THQ’s watch happens to be one of the most complete packages ever offered up by a wrestling game.
Stuffed with an insane number of creation options (From wrestlers, finishers, entrances, belts – all the way through to outlandish storylines) that could be shared infinitely. The game also came packing a fully functioning Showcase mode (One of the better ones too), Universe Mode and a career mode (Even if it was a bit pants). WWE2K14 was a love letter to everything the seires had experimented with under THQ, offering a deliciously rounded package that gave gamers everything they wanted and more.
It’s just a shame that the jump to the next generation took the series back a good 5-6 steps.
3. Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (PS2, 2005)
There’s a huge section of wrestling fans that would argue Fire Pro Wrestling Returns deserves to be number one on this list.
The game features an absolutely daunting roster of over 300 wrestlers from around the world. Not only this, you can create and customize wrestlers in as you please. The ability to add logos and create your own rosters only adds to the genuine excitement that this game brings.
But really, it’s in the solid core experience that things really feel grander. The game is excellent and plays like a dream, allowing you to create the style you want within your wrestling promotion. It’s a great game and any true wrestling fan should rush out to snap it up – it’s worth the experience.
2. WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain (PS2, 2003)
Arguably the most famous of all the wrestling games, WWE’s Smackdown series of games arrived just as the product was at the peak of its popularity. While some might say that Smackdown 2 (2000) is the most fun of the series, I point one of its PlayStation 2 sequels for best overall experience.
What really puts Here Comes the Pain leagues ahead of its PlayStation peers is how solid the overall package is. It has one of the largest roster of Superstars in any WWE game – while the list of matches on offer are exhaustive yet comprehensive. Add in the fact that the career mode encourages exploration (Something 2K are returning to with 2K18 this year) and it’s the closest you’ll ever come to feeling like a true WWE Superstar.
Also, we can’t help but mention the fact that this game, in terms of gameplay, arguably marries the “over the top” nature to the realistic direction the series was heading in at this point best of all.
1. WWF No Mercy (N64, 2000)
It’s cliche to say at this stage, but WWF No Mercy is the ultimate wrestling game. So many have attempted to imitate the glory that this entry delivered – but few have managed to come close to the outright fun you can have with this game.
What makes the game so great though? Its core mechanics are so tight and well refined. Unlike modern WWE games, which lumber themselves to slow mechanics, WWF No Mercy focuses on making the experience of wrestling as silky smooth as possible. Moves are easy to execute, while the execution of the mechanics means everything in the game feels fair. It also helps that the games career mode features one of the best branching adventures in any wrestling game. It’s the kind of feature that’s incredibly underrated by most – but is a delight for those of us who got to experience it the first time around (Plus admit it, who didn’t try winning the WWE Championship with Godfather’s Hoe?)
WWF No Mercy is just the most fun you can have with. It’s well balanced, easy to understand and arguably makes the most of its exciting ideas.