Game Review: WWE2K16

 WWE2K16_1

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin covers WWE2K16 this year, but the retired pro wrestler’s not the reason we picked up the game.

UrbanWire’s interest in World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) peaked when we met Dolph Ziggler at WWE Live in Singapore in July, and we’re excited at the prospect of playing as him. And if we ever tire of that, there are more than 120 other WWE Superstars in the game:the most varied roster in the history of the 26-year old game series.

 

Gameplay

WWE2K16_2

To get a taste of the game, we started off with a One-on-One exhibition match. As Ziggler, we wrestled Enzo Amore (one of the lowest-ranked Superstars on the roster. Okay, don’t judge us…)

Publisher 2K Sports has thankfully addressed plenty of bugs from last year’s game: the grappling moves are much smoother, and the flurry of reversals has been replaced by the new reversal system where you must hit the R2/RT button at the perfect time. Too fast or too late and you’re going to take damage. We appreciated that, as we followed up a Superkick with a Zig Zag to earn a win by pinfall against Amore.

After playing more games, we realized stamina also plays a crucial part in winning a round in this version, more so than ever before. Roman Reigns’ famous motto, “Hit Hard, Hit Often” unfortunately doesn’t apply in-game. Sure, your opponent will be laying flat down on the mat from your relentless pounding, but you’ll be down from exhaustion too if you fail to let your Superstar rest.

Another issue with the ‘Stamina vs Damage’ dilemma was pulling out a signature and/or finisher early. There’s no way Baron Corbin is going to kick out after going to Suplex City, no matter how early it’s used in this game.

 

WWE Online, 2K Showcase & MyCareer

Apart from exhibition, you can play 3 other modes: WWE Online, 2K Showcase and MyCareer.

WWE Online lost this round. We hate to say it, but EA Sports is still tops with their FIFA Ultimate Team game mode, immersing players into their virtual card game, and keeping them wanting more. WWE Online has a rank system, whereby you rank up with points, except you earn those whether you win or lose. It feels kind of hollow and less than satisfying to be moving up the ranks when there’s no real goal to achieve.

 

WWE2K16_3

2K Showcase has been what sealed the deal for 2K games ever since taking THQ off their game rights to the WWE franchise in 2014, and this year it revolves around the illustrious career of The Texas Rattlesnake, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. It’s a familiar feel as per last year’s showcase progression with John Cena (who also happens to be the game’s highest rated character at 95). So if you aren’t fans of the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, we assume you’ll lay off this mode, though we’d love to convince you to give it a chance. Not just for the commentary of Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, who will heighten the nostalgia, but because, if you’re decent player, you’ll get to demolish opponents with the Stone Cold Stunner often enough. That, alone, should be incentive enough to play the game mode.

MyCareer is the most fun we had playing the whole game. The process of creating your own Superstar can be an all-consuming vanity project. You get to look into all the intricate details, playing God in the way you determine his physical attributes, his image/aura and, of course, his move-list. Note that this exercise can take a considerable amount of your time, so you shouldn’t rush into it if you’ve got life-changing exams/your wedding/a project at work that will decide if you get the promotion waiting on the sidelines.

 

Game Aesthetic

This is the 1 aspect of the game we wish was much better. The commentary during the game lagged at moments, especially during the post-match interviews that happen in MyCareer, terribly annoying. The ‘run-in’ sequences were also pretty awkward, with ‘run-in’ looking more like walk-in. While the characters are dynamic in-ring and during gameplay, they suddenly, and inexplicably, look really stiff at some moments.

WWE2K16_4

For what it’s worth, we were expecting the wrestlers to all look like themselves, especially with the face-scan technology being used to reproduce the faces and physiques of the WWE Superstars and Divas. Admittedly, they’ve gotten the physique spot on for every character, but the likeness for some people were somewhat suspect. Paige’s face doesn’t look anywhere near how beautiful she actually is, and Brock Lesnar’s head looks like a swollen pumpkin. If they can get Rusev and Seth Rollins spot on, why not everyone else?

 

Final Words

 Playing as him in WWE2K16 was just as much fun as speaking to The Showoff Dolph Ziggler at WWE Live. Despite the aesthetic shortcomings, the game is a joy to play either alone or with friends, not to mention a great anxiety beater.

It still isn’t the perfect product, the game still has some ways to go. But we’re banking on WWE2K17 to be the one that gets our overwhelming plaudits.

Whatever you do, just don’t challenge us to a match. You’ll lose. “It’s too bad, we’re too good.”

 

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

 

Information

Release Date: 27 October 2015

Developers: Visual Concepts, Yuke’s

Publisher: 2K Sports

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Price: $78