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WWE 2K16

Score: 53%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 6 (2 - 6 Co-op), 2 - 6 Online
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)/ Sports/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:

2K Sports brings a follow-up to the wrestling world with the hopes of rejuvenating a franchise that, to be frank, has been lackluster as of late. WWE 2K16 is that entry, and by all accounts, it is a giant move in the right direction as a game… overall. If you’ve sensed the hesitation in my written voice, continue on and know that it is warranted. High hopes are unfortunately dashed with this year’s effort.

Graphically, WWE 2K16 is a mixed bag between semi-stunning all the way down to downright disappointing. On the plus side, the presentation of the game is pretty outstanding from a visual standpoint. Ring entrances for Superstars and Divas can actually get one’s adrenaline pumping and the animations are smooth as an oiled-up wrestler, for the most part. It is easy to get drawn in from the first match, and depending on your chosen character, maybe even have a moment of "Hell Yeah" cross your mind… but then, when you really analyze the game, a lot more care could have gone into making the models great. There is a bit too much of a cartoony feeling in some models – especially the older Superstars of the past – that really pulls you from the moment, including the ringside announcers.

The commentary in the game is pretty decent as a whole, as Jerry "The King" Lawler, Michael Cole, and John Bradshaw (and Jim Ross in the Stone Cold Steve Austin Mode) call the action in and out of the ring. Aside from that, the next most prominent aspect of the audio is in the sounds and presentation, which as previously mentioned, are very well done. It needs to be mentioned, however, that during the My Career Story Mode, your created wrestler’s voiceover is horrific and monotone, as if you are listening to someone read directly from a script for the first time, not knowing how to put character into the voice. Shameful is the only word that comes to mind when comparing with the over-the-top wrestling personalities that usually grace your screen from week to week.


I must start this section with one inescapable fact… I have NOT played last year’s game, but have read some fan feedback indicating that WWE 2K16 is 10x better than 2K15. That said, there are quite a few high scores out there based on what sounds like a comparison to last year’s title. I’m quite satisfied that I didn’t play the previous incarnation because that means I’m entering this review with fresh eyes and an unbiased opinion. Keep that in mind… and fanboys and girls be warned… this review is the way it should be, as a standalone game and not based on how much it has or has not improved. So let’s get off the soapbox, sound the bell, and get into the ring already to find out that…

I have yet to win a match by pin fall.

There… I said it, and it is true. That does exclude dirty pins, disqualifications, and special matches, but still… What kind of insanely horrific gameplay is so gut-wrenchingly painful that a once enthusiastic user becomes bored with the monotony of button presses that fail to deliver the Smackdown on his/her opponent? I’ll tell you what… it all starts with an effort – likely justified, mind you – to get away from button-mashing and ending in a tedious system of constantly trying to time reversals until the other person in the ring is worn down enough to pin him/her. The result is WWE 2K16, a game that shows TONS of potential and really realizes very little.

There are oodles of gameplay options in WWE 2K16. Of course, you can choose from different types of matches, from 1-on-1 and Tag Team on up to Fatal Four-Ways and Royal Rumbles, with everything in between. Grab a TLC match or Hell in the Cell, if you please. The number of match types is outstanding in this game… enough to please all fans. It doesn’t stop there either, as you can drop in and create your own wrestler to bring up through the ranks of My Career and be a part of the WWE Universe, just to name a couple. It’s an exciting thought to jump into the squared circle in any one of them.

In fact, creating a wrestler and taking the fast track to WWE stardom sounds like a plentiful way to enjoy WWE 2K16. The setup is actually pretty decent, although there is room to grow. As a rookie, you have the ability to work your way through the ranks and, in the meantime, form alliances and rivalries with fellow competitors while becoming a heel or a face. Interviews after matches are also offered, with the ability to call your own answer to a staged question from an interviewer. Unfortunately, this interview system, like much of the game's controls, feels contrived and pointless and is about as fun being pile driven onto the concrete where it takes place. Hopefully next year’s title is far superior and takes this feature where it deserves to go.


WWE 2K16 is hard. There are different difficulty settings to choose from, but as always, I tend to stay at the defaults for as long as possible to get a feel for what the developers think is "Normal" as far as average players are concerned.

To its credit, it really isn’t that WWE 2K16 is a difficult game to play. It isn’t like a fighting game where you need to know all of the combos to have a snowball’s chance at winning. On the contrary… this title has simple button presses for the most part, without overly-complicated controls. That is, for button presses.

Where the game suffers is that it’s incredibly easy to get bored trying to constantly time reversals since they seem to be the central point of the gameplay. Too soon or too late, and your opponent controls the match. Nail it and you have your opening, only to be thwarted again when your enemy stares you down with the same reversal. While this is the nature of a good wrestling match, it is overused tremendously in WWE 2K16. Adding to that the rock-paper-scissor nature of grapples and the flat out clunky control stick moves for submissions, and this game essentially became a different type of button masher… just a slower one.

Game Mechanics:

There is a lot of fanfare that surrounds wrestling, and the game is no different when you hit Start for the first time. Then it happens. I can’t really describe how quickly the game ripped out my heart. Between the passive reversal system and the systematic way submissions and grapples are handled, disappointment sets in quickly. Rather than wrestling and working on the next move, most of my matches consisted of me trying to time my RT presses to reverse my opponent. WWE 2K16 really didn’t feel balanced between combat and technical maneuvering, which is a staple of wrestling since the beginning of time. Without beating the dead horse again, playing WWE 2K16 was not exactly my idea of fun.

With so much to offer, WWE 2K16 is nothing shy of a disappointment. I cannot recommend this game outright without you first renting it for more than a day to give it a chance. If you are a fan of the WWE, you should give this a chance. You may find this outing far different that my perspective, but either way, please try before you buy. Yes, the reversal and grappling system can be mastered, but it is easy to be underwhelmed without being able to have the kind of patience needed for something that should have just be fun out of the box with little effort. I’ve been bitching about button-mashing for years in these types of fighting games and longed for something a bit deeper… but maybe I was wrong. I’ll take fun over technical next time I step into the ring.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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