Each year I look forward to the new WWE game and come away with mixed feelings. WWE 2K14 left me optimistic for the future, but 2K15 was a disappointing game. With WWE 2K16, Yuke’s promised the largest roster, gameplay tweaks, and more. I’ve been playing it for a few weeks now and there are a lot of improvements, but still far too many flaws.
If you’ve been a fan of wrestling games for a while or are new to them, you probably notice most reviews mentioning earlier games. I’m not talking about games from last year, but the classics from the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. The Smackdown games keep getting spoken about highly because they are memorable and fun to play. 2K has been consistently pushing for realism and while that does pay off in some aspects, others suffer. With 2K16, 2K has tweaked various gameplay aspects and some of them are plain baffling.
A lot of the positives come from adding back things removed last year or from tweaking some annoyances. You can build your own arenas, belts, divas, and more. The strong create mode allows you to make up for some glaring omissions in an otherwise huge roster. 2K16 touts a roster of 120 superstars, not including variations of the same people, and it more or less delivers. Game modes removed from 2K15 have been added back for the most part as well.
This year, 2K Showcase focusses on Steve Austin. This covers his early career as Stunning Steve Austin and covers all memorable moments. I consider the Attitude Era as the highest point for the WWE and this Showcase mode brought back a lot of memories. I don’t want to spoil it for fans, but you will see The Rock throwing the championship belt into the river. However, I hope they add the ability to restart a match from the last failed objective instead of making you repeat multiple objectives each time you need to repeat something.
The MyCareer mode has received a few tweaks. The aim of this mode is to create a wrestler and put him through the ropes and try and get him to superstar status. You get to form rivalries, change face, and maybe eventually win some titles. I’m not a fan of the indirect push towards buying the MyPlayer Kickstart that gives you a boost in stats. Everything seems a bit unfair without a lot of grinding.
Submissions were never something I really considered game-changing until I played WWE 2K16. The new system is garbage, and even that is letting it off lightly. There’s a cat and mouse mini-game in a circular interface that you use to navigate your cursor over the opponent’s cursor. The more you overlap, the more damage you do and the closer you are to winning.
Have you ever been enjoying a nice biryani only to bite into a clove that ruins everything? Well, the submission system here is worse. I’ve had Showcase matches go from me dominating 90 per cent of the time to suddenly losing because of the stupid mini-game submission. I rage quit Showcase mode multiple times because fulfilling about eight objectives in a long match only to lose to a stupid submission is beyond annoying. Another annoyance is the pinning mini-game. This now takes place in a circular interface and it takes some time to get used to coming from last year’s system.
Visually, 2K16 looks both amazing and disappointing. Most of the current roster looks great since faces were scanned, but there are many who look downright embarrassing. This is jarring because it feels like you’re playing a game with characters from different generations of consoles in some cases. Entrances are fantastic though with Triple H’s and Undertaker’s being the highlights for me for realism and atmosphere. The crowd looks bad. It almost feels like 2K took shovelware from Steam Greenlight for crowd character models.
Commentary is another place where 2K16 disappoints me. What is the point of commentary if you’re going to hear generic stuff like “What a fantastic move!” and “These two wrestlers have quite the history”? I also had multiple occasions where King straight out called wrong moves during a match. The soundtrack selection this year is good though. Music chosen for the menus is extensive and memorable.
Overall, I wish I had enjoyed WWE 2K16 more. The large roster, creation mode, and amazing 2K Showcase lift it higher than last year’s disappointment, but this is still not a must-buy wrestling game for fans. If you’re a fan of Stone Cold, this is more than worth it just for the Showcase. The fact that this game still has glitches seen in 2K15 shows how little 2K seems to care about their fans. I should write off wrestling games at this point, but I remain optimistic for 2K17.