For the last four years 2K Sports has nailed the authenticity of its sports games to a tee, and things are no different with WWE 2K16. Each wrestler’s entrance is recreated with all the razzmatazz that you’d expect when watching professional wrestling on T.V., while replays of major moves are played out cinematically with all the flair of the on-screen superstars, with the highlight being the hard-hitting ‘OMG’ moves which you can view again from various camera angles.
Once again, animation and character models look fantastic, though it’s evident that developer Yukes has certainly put more time and effort into some superstars than others. Wrestlers like Randy Orton, Cesaro, and John Cena are incredibly detailed, but others, like Chris Jericho, Tyler Breeze, Dolph Ziggler and every Diva, look like they were imported from the PS3 version. Still, it’s an impressive cast with character models capturing the on-screen personas of their counterparts superbly.
The biggest change in 2K16 can be found in the reversal system. In the past, players were able to reverse almost every attack and grapple coming their way with a simple timed press of the R2 button, but with the new system Yukes has implemented a point bar. Depending on the superstar you have up to five bars to use on reversals. This basically means you can reverse up to four attacks, and after you’ve used them all up you pretty much have to take a beating from your opponent.
These bars regenerate throughout the match which adds a new level of strategy to bouts. Learning which attacks to counter and which ones to let the opponent connect to is crucial, especially the longer the match goes on. Though the changes to the reversal system add a new and welcome challenge, players who would rather revert back to last year’s system also have the option of simply switching it off.
Other changes don’t fair quite as well. The submission system requires you to move the right analogue stick and align your red bar with the opponent’s blue bars. Doing so keeps the submission going and increases the chances of your opponent submitting. The problem with this system is it hardly ever works in your favour. When rotating the analogue stick, the cursor suddenly stops and moves in the opposite direction, while the A.I. seems to predict your moves before you even make them.
The Pinning system isn’t great either. Although the pinning system in the past was based more on how much damage you did to an opponent, this time it’s reduced to yet another mini-game. When getting pinned you are forced to stop a cursor as it moves around a circle in the highlighted green area to kick out. The more damage you take the smaller the highlighted ‘kick out’ space gets. The problem is that the A.I. is a master at kicking out. At one point I was playing as the Undertaker and did a signature move and two finishers in a row on Heath Slater and he ended up kicking out, which really shouldn’t be the case.
One of the biggest criticisms of last year’s game was the lack of match types, superstars, and game modes. All that criticism has been addressed in 2K16, which sports over one hundred superstars and divas; and that’s not counting the alternate versions of Sting, or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Commentary has been improved too, and though it falls a little flat at times, the dynamic pairing of Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler in the 2K Showcase mode proves to be a highlight as they capture the excitement of each bout.
Indeed, WWE 2K Showcase returns in 2K16, highlighting the carrier of Stone Cold Steve Austin. This is a great mode that mixes actual footage from the WWE that showcases Stone Cold’s rise in the ‘sport’. Impressive promo videos before Stone Cold’s major matches and feuds give the battles an air of authenticity, while rivalries with the Heart Foundation, The Rock, and The Undertaker from the Attitude era are great fun to watch and experience.
My Career mode returns with players able to create their own superstar or diva from the vast and impressive Create a Superstar mode. This time your superstar begins his rise from NXT up to the main roster and eventually challenges for whatever title you want. As great as creating your own superstar is, the loading times can test your patience. Each time I wanted to preview an article of clothing or a new hair style, it would take up to five seconds to load.
2K is slowly easing its way into the pro-wrestling genre, and the signs in WWE 2K16 are that the developer is on the right path. Fans should be happy with improvements from last year’s title, including the increased roster and numerous match types to enjoy. The 2K Showcase is a great trip down memory lane and Create a Superstar is as great as ever, if a little slow. Bad pinning and submission mini-games could have been handled better, but WWE 2K16 is definitely a step in the right direction from last year’s outing.