WWE 2K15 was in most part a fun game, however, while I in particular enjoyed its Showcase and Universe mode, my enjoyment was hampered by not only losing ALL my data once, but on two separate occasions.  No matter what game you play, losing data is always an enthusiasm killer.  But despite this, I could see that at the very least it was a step in the right direction ever since 2K acquired the rights.  Yet despite this, being a lifelong WWE fan and practically owning almost every game ever associated with the franchise, I still looked forward to this year’s WWE 2K16.

Other than a few gameplay tweaks, WWE 2K16 remains much of the same as last year’s instalment.  While it was a matter of taste, I preferred the slower, more realistic pace of 2K15, rather than the frantic drop-kick free-for-all of say WWE 2K14.  In an attempt to add further validation to the realism, 2K has added some subtle gameplay tweaks that most fans might appreciate.  For example, you can no longer reverse to your heart’s content.

Depending on the Superstar or Diva, you will have allocated slots to the amount of reversals that you can pull-off.  So Superstars such as HBK will be able to stock more reversals then Titus O’Neil.  This addition adds a certain strategy to how you might approach a match.  Yes, you could utilise all your stocked reversals within the opening moments of your match, but you will then leave yourself vulnerable later on.  I found myself using two reversals to begin within in the hope of having a good start, and then saving the remaining for later in the match.  In fact, many times I found myself taking a deliberate beating, just so I can save my precious stock.  But never fear, you won’t be stuck to a certain amount of reversals for that one match, they will recharge during the duration of the fight.

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Other minor tweaks that have been made is the ability to get in a cheap shot when the referee tries to break up a grapple against the ropes, something that will suite Superstars such as Kevin Owens or Seth Rollins.  But you do also have the same option to perform such cheap shot for the likes of Mr Goodie Two-Shoes John Cena.  Another notable addition that I appreciate is being able to break out of the entrance scene with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, as you sprint towards the ring to start the fight before the ring of the bell (actually that’s a returning feature).

Changes have also been made to the way in which submission moves are performed and the way in which you kick-out of a pin.  Key submission moves will kick-off a mini-game.  The player in the hold representing a blue cursor and the player performing the hold with red.  The idea of this is for the blue cursor to stay away from the red cursor as much as possible.  90% of the time, this mini-game works, but then the remaining 10% just feels like pure luck.  This can result in a match prematurely from nothing more than a bog-standard sleeper hold, which can be very frustrating.

The way in which you kick out is now simplified; now you must simply stop the cursor within the kick-out zone.  I have no issue with this method, in-fact it’s my preference.  However, what I do have an issue with, is that even if you kick-out of a pin within the first 10 seconds of the match, you will slowly crawl back up to your feet, almost like you’re out of stamina. I don’t know why this is the case, perhaps it was something that was overlooked by the developers, but for next year’s game it would be great if this minor issue could be addressed.

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The biggest improvement however that is made in WWE 2K16 is the sheer size of the roster.  It boasts more than 120 unique Superstars and Divas.  This number does not include multiple versions of a certain wrestler; it’s the number of unique/individual wrestlers that is in the game, which is just insane (in a good way).  This is without a doubt, the biggest roster ever seen in a WWE game and that can only be a good thing.  It’s worth nothing that not all Superstars and Divas will be available from the off-set, as many will need unlocking, unless you buy that Accelerator DLC of course, which unlocks everything.

With such a huge number of playable characters, as you might expect, the quality of likenesses is somewhat of a mixed bag of tricks.  Superstars such as Randy Orton, HHH, Sting and more look fantastic.  While Superstars and Divas such as Paige (especially Stephanie McMahon), and even Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins look a little odd (perhaps the later two are a little more stocky then they should be), while Chris Jericho just looks like he’s been ripped out of the last gen version of the game.  But this is a small gripe and to be fair to the developers, there’s probably not enough hours in the day to get each and every likeness absolutely spot-on, and hopefully this quality will improve year-on-year.  Heck, even HBK looks better this year!

There is one issue with the visuals that was present in last year’s instalment and that’s just how odd long hair looks.  I know this may sound a little picky, but the way in which long and wavy hair looks and moves, just looks rather odd and unnatural.  This is worsened by the fact that the game features multiple generations of long-standing Superstars.  So take the modern day Undertaker and HHH for example, both of whom now have short (ish) hair.  The current era versions look fantastic, but the apparent younger versions of themselves, just looks like they are wearing wigs, as the younger versions look like the older versions, but the only difference is that they look to be wearing wigs!

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Another gripe that I have is with the lack of Divas in the game.  You literally have a handful to choose from, such as Paige, the Bella Twins and a few more.  Now in the time where female wrestlers are finally starting to get the recognition that they deserve with the “Divas Revolution”, it would have been great and a no brainer to include the likes of Sasha “The Boss” Banks, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bayley to name but a few.  Even with the forthcoming DLC, we are only seeing legendary Divas; Trish Stratus and Alundra Blayze.  Yet it would have been great to see the Divas Revolution as a DLC pack, if they couldn’t make the cut in the main game.  But hey, hopefully we’ll get that next year.

One exclusion from last year that fans wanted to see was JBL at the commentary table and I’m please to say that your wish has been granted.  It’s fair to say that the standard of commentary and the depth of dialogue has improved with the three man team of JBL, Lawler and Cole, but it at times does feel disconnect from what’s going on in the ring.  Also with Stone Cold Steve Austin getting his very own campaign in Showcase, good old JR (Jim Ross) and Jerry “The King” Lawler have recorded commentary exclusive to this mode, which not only adds nostalgia, but also authenticity.

It simply wouldn’t be the same without JR shouting “Stone Cold, Stone Cold, Stone Cold”.  However, much like exhibition matches, dialogue does get repeated a lot in Austin’s Showcase, sometimes multiple times during the same match, which quickly becomes grinding on the ears, especially when you keep hearing this from Jerry Lawler “Oh out here (outside the ring) you’re gonna have to be able to think on your feet, lighting fast! One mistake, one moment of hesitation and you can find yourself in a world of hurt!”  Yeah, we’ve all heard that one…a lot.  Speaking of commentary and something that ECW fans will surely appreciate is that during the campaign when taking part in bonus match, you get the chance to play out a match during Stone Cold’s brief stint in ECW with Joey Styles doing the one-man commentary…..”Oh my GOD!

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Overall WWE 2K16 is an improvement on last year’s instalment. Sometimes games improve for the better when only subtle changes are made, and that’s certainly the case here.  2K15 was far from perfect and touch wood; I’ve not had my data wiped (yet), which is always a good start.  The subtle changes to the gameplay such as the counter system brings a hint of realism to the matches and even choices that you make during the create-a-superstar campaign MyCareer now have more of an effect, of which Superstars fight with or against you, and how the crowd reacts to the action.  It’s an RPG element that many fans have craved for since the N64’S No Mercy.  For the record you can now create both male and female characters, along with a championship belts, shows, arenas and more.  My only problem with the create feature, is that when creating a character, you are too often greeted with at times excessive loading, even for the most simplest of changes (and sometimes when no changes are even made).

2K has built upon the foundations inherited by 2K15 and with any annual game, that’s the least we can ask for.  I would have liked to have seen an additional Showcase campaign from the base game, as we did with last year’s instalment, but don’t let that hamper your choice and it by no means made me enjoy the game any less.  Now if you excuse me, I have a can of whoop-ass to open and that’s the bottom-line because Stone….well I said so.

  • The new-gen versions of WWE 2K16 may differ from the last-gen versions.


Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake