2k Sports returns alongside developer Yukes with WWE 2K16, its latest effort into the complicated world of pro wrestling, and its major leagues: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Wrestling fandom is a very odd beast, perhaps even the oddest of all fandoms. At least most of the time, for most people, you either love it or hate it, and as someone once said: “for those that get it, no explanation is needed; for those that don’t, no explanation will do.” But I’m not here to debate the fandom, I’m here to review the latest game… so let’s get to it!
Following last year’s abysmal WWE 2k15, between its mostly abandoned 360/PS3 version, and its ultra-stripped down XB1/PS4 version, WWE 2k16 is a major, major improvement. Nearly every feature that was cut from last year’s game has returned, including (but not limited to) Create-A-Diva (no idea why anyone would cut out the ability to create a female character, but whatever), Create-An-Arena, Create-A-Championship, and 100 save slots to go crazy with all of your custom…well, everything! The game also provides the largest roster of wrestlers ever in any wrestling game, with over 100 unique playable characters from both WWE‘s main roster as well as their highly-popular NXT developmental system.
Also returning is the 2K Showcase Mode, which this year focuses on the career of legendary pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and his rise from perennial mid-carder going nowhere in WCW to perhaps the most popular wrestler of all time as the face of WWE’s beloved “Attitude Era” of the 1990s (you know, back before wrestling went corporate and was still edgy and ultraviolent – the good old days!). You can relieve Austin’s entire WWE career, as well as go back and revisit some of his historic matches from his pre-WWE days in WCW and ECW. It’s a fun, easy to follow game mode, that unlocks all sorts of stuff by playing it.
If wrestling’s glory days isn’t your thing, or if you just want something a bit more current, there’s also the MyCareer Mode, where you create your own original wrestler, and work your way up the rankings of NXT and WWE in hopes of becoming one of the all time greats and earning your spot in the Hall of Fame. While this mode was available in last year’s game, this year’s is much, much deeper, and doesn’t just abruptly end on you. In fact, you could log countless hours just on this one mode.
Finally, rounding out the returning modes is the highly popular Universe Mode, where you literally control every single aspect of WWE programming, from the wrestlers, to the matches, to the pay per view events, to the TV shows, and everything in-between. You can also play exhibition one-off matches with your friends at home or against the computer, and of course play matches online, too. I’m not one for multiplayer (and I particularly hate it when games insist upon multiplayer) so I didn’t really explore that avenue, just giving a heads up for those of you who enjoy it. So if pro wrestling is your thing, you’ve got more than enough here to keep you busy for at least the next year.
As for the gameplay, it’s mostly the same as previous years, with a few major changes, that sadly all stick out as something of a problem. First of all the new “grappling system” and “submission system” are annoying little mini-games that really just over-complicate the actual gameplay. The one thing about pro wrestling is that it’s fast-paced, action-packed, and fun… and these little mini-games just take away from that. Thankfully, if you dig into the settings you can at least turn off the grappling system, though you’re basically stuck with the submission one. Loading screens also take a fairly ridiculous amount of time, particularly with created characters and the community creations boards (where you can download all sorts of “not in the original game” versions of all your favorite wrestlers who may or may not be in WWE now).
Finally, the worst feature in this entire game has to be the crashing issues. I personally ran into at least 10 instances where the game would completely crash and return me to the home screen when I was trying to use the create-a-wrestler, or tinker around in MyCareer Mode. Hopefully, 2K will be releasing a patch for this soon, but let’s be honest here… 2k isn’t exactly known for doing this very often… in fact, 2k14 was about the buggiest pile of garbage on the planet and 2k15 wasn’t much better. As the old joke among gamers goes, “the patch for a 2K game is you wait for the next year’s release”. Hopefully that’s not the case here, because otherwise, we’ve really got the first truly good WWE game from 2k on our hands with this one.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, WWE 2K16 is a much-needed return to form for a franchise that was quite frankly suffering over the last few years, having not had a truly good release since THQ’s WWE ’13. The modes are diverse and fun, the roster is the best it’s ever been, and the return of the best custom creation suites in perhaps ANY video game are all very high marks for this one. Unfortunately, the crashing issues do slow things down from time to time, and again, hopefully 2K actually fixes this rather than just make gamers endure this until next year. If they do, the score goes way up here, but as-is, I just can’t justify a bigger score… even if it does dwarf last year’s game’s. – 7.5/10
Editor: Nerd Nation Magazine
Xbox Live: DaveHarlequin3