|System: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Visual Concepts/Yuke’s|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: October 27, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i||Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, and Violence|
by Jenni Lada
WWE 2K15 was enough to make you lose faith in the series. With lackluster custom superstar options, one of the smallest character rosters in the series' history, limited match types, and constant chain wrestling and reversal loops, it was quite possibly the most disappointing game to carry the WWE name. Fortunately, WWE 2K16 rights nearly all of those wrongs, but introduces a few new flaws that keep it from being a headliner.
When it comes to options, WWE 2K16 has players covered. There is so much to see and do here. There is a general play mode with eight different kinds of matches, with between two and twelve options for each one. This is fantastic for people who want to immediately pick up and play, especially since a large cast of Superstars, Divas, Legends, and Managers are immediately available. The Handicap match is most limited, with only two options, but most others have at least three variations to choose from. The one on one matches especially shine with 12 ways to customize a match.
One could even say WWE 2K16 steps into simulation territory, with its multiple story modes. MyCareer is the clearest example, with three character slots available for original Superstars. You not only participate in matches for this man you make, but the decisions made in bouts, on shows, and during interviews influence the avatar's personality. You can go for different belts and varying levels of prestige, starting out in training under Matt Bloom at what is apparently the WWE Performance Center. It's quite intriguing.
This simulation element carries over to the WWE Universe mode, as you can have matches simulated and go through virtual days, weeks, and months to see how rivalries progress leading up to a major event. During my play session, as an example, things were leading up to an Extreme Rules match. Even now, as I write this, I'm acting as a spectator and watching a virtual Smackdown match.
Especially interesting is the 2K Showcase mode going through Austin 3:16. This storyline follows Stone Cold Steve Austin's career, taking you through every match. Here, the simulation element requires you to meet certain objectives to recreate the actual chain of events. For example, the first match is a 1996 King of the Ring battle against Jake "The Snake" Roberts and requires a player to bring him down to critical damage to win.
All this variety in WWE 2K16 is a huge step in making amends for WWE 2K15, especially since gameplay is improved as well. Aside from more match types and more people in the ring at once, a number of core mechanics have been changed to make things feel less gimmicky. WWE 2K15 overwhelmed players with mini-games, which would pop up when chain wrestling, putting someone in a submission hold, and relentless reversals. Here, I typically only encountered one chain wrestling encounter per match, and submission holds occurred quite infrequently. Each were easily explained, leaving less mystery to finding a way out. Also, the limit on reversals keeps them from being abused.
However, I did notice a downside to the new WWE 2K16 reversal system. To trigger one, someone must press the lower right trigger at exactly the right time. It took me about an hour to work out the timing perfectly, so I wouldn't get a dreaded "too fast" or "too slow" message. Even still, I find myself slipping from time to time, especially in online matches.
As for online matches, the quality varied. Stability was vastly improved after a match, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate in a practice match while I waited for someone to join. My custom diva still has some issues where her outfit didn't look quite right in an online match, but her hair looked better after the patch, so I'm certain a future update will make sure she looks exactly the way I intended.