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Up until now, aside from a few Flash Games, I've only reviewed retro games here. For the record, I still play current games. I don't participate in the "console wars" about which system is better, Sony or Xbox. I just happen to have an Xbox One. There is a new Fire Pro Wrestling game coming out for the PS4, though, so I am checking into getting one just for that reason. Still, it's been awhile since I've played any "newer" WWE games. The last one I played was probably RAW vs Smackdown 2009, I think.
With the Xbox Gold subscription that I have, Xbox gives you three or four free games each month as a bonus. A few months ago, they gave away WWE 2K16. I was only mildly interested at the time but I was smart enough to download it in case I ever wanted to play it in the future (it was free, after all). Recently, I finally gave it a try and I'm glad I did! I ended up playing it, off and on, for the last month or so and I ended up having a lot of fun with it so I decided to make it my first official review of a current generation game.
Most games (especially older ones) have two companies involved in its production. This one, however, has four. WWE 2K16 was released on October 27, 2015 and was developed by Yukes and Visual Concepts, published by 2K Sports and distributed by Take-Two Interactive. I always remember Take-Two for releasing the first few Grand Theft Auto games on the PC and PS1, so they do have a good reputation for quality games as far as I'm concerned.
One of the main selling points at release was the inclusion of Arnold Schwarzenegger, in character as The Terminator, being included as part of the roster if you wanted to pay an extra couple of dollars for him. I decided not to purchase this, though. The price is reasonable but I just wasn't that interested in the character being included and the roster is already huge on it's own so you don't end up missing Arnie much, if any. Even without The Terminator DLC purchase, the roster for the game ends up being 120 unique playable characters.
That's not to say that there are literally 120 different superstars to play as, though. Some of the "unique playable characters" are just different versions of the same superstar. Like, you can play as Shawn Michaels or you can play as Shawn Michaels with his red tights and "girly braids" in his hair; the way he looked when he wrestled Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14. Some of the superstars with different versions of themselves are pretty cool though. With Sting, you can be Sting from 1991 with his bright colors and blonde crew cut or you can be "Sting: The Crow" version from late 90's WCW or you can even be the current version of The Stinger. With Steve Austin, there's lots of Stone Cold variations (basically just different vests) and even a "Stunning" Steve Austin character thrown in for good measure. The character model for that one doesn't look especially great though. It kinda looks like they took the character model for one of the Stone Cold versions and then dropped a blonde wig on his head. When "Stone Cold" was "Stunning", his face was a lot thinner so this ends up making him not look very realistic here.
With a roster so big they had to include some great legends, right? Right. This game has some great WWE Legends to play as which was a big step towards "getting over" with me. There's also tons of them to choose from. Greats like Andre the Giant, Rick Rude, Ricky Steamboat, Brian Pillman and so on. Even some superstars of the Attitude Era show up like the entire, original Nation Of Domination! My personal favorite thing to do is to take control of Sgt. Slaughter's former lackeys, Gen. Adnan and Col. Mustafa (Iron Sheik), and see if I can use them to defeat the biggest and baddest tag teams that I can dream up as opponents. I think I mostly like them because Gen. Adnan looks so insane in his in game wrester picture. He's just staring up at the sky all "crazy-eyed". It's pretty comical, actually.
There are different modes and match types to play. Match types include the same ones that have been included for a long time; TLC, ladder match, Elimination Chamber, Hell In A Cell, Extreme Rules.. I'm sure you're familiar. The different modes are pretty interesting for the most part. There's a career mode which I didn't try. I assume you make you're own superstar and play through your WWE career. Then, there's WWE Universe mode that I did try out some. In it, you basically play through whole shows and Pay Per Views and form tag teams, start rivalries, I assume destroy someone's personal vehicle in some over the top fashion at some point because that's a WWE thing, right?
The mode I played the most (besides single matches) was 2K Showcase. WWE 2K16's "showcase" is a showcase of Steve Austin's career. It's mostly his Stone Cold WWE run and nothing prior to that but some bonus matches that you can play through highlight his earlier WCW run with the "Stunning" Steve Austin gimmick. I really enjoyed playing 2K Showcase at first, but after a while it got a little repetetive. The presentation is great with cutscenes and objectives during the matches that make you have to play the matches out in the way that they actually occurred. They even use the original JR and Jerry Lawler commentary for the matches which is a nice touch. The part that gets a little old is the lack of variety of opponents and match types. Let's face it, Stone Cold didn't do many gimmick matches so every match is pretty straight forward. Also, you get to face off against superstars like Dude Love, Shawn Michaels, and The Rock (all classic Stone Cold rivalries) but you have to wrestle them all three or four times in a row, just like Austin did himself. It just wears a little thin after a while.
Regarding any minor complaints; I can't complain about the gameplay itself. It's really smooth and the animations are great. Gone are the days of button mashing in WWE games. Some matches even start with a "chain wrestling mini-game" in which you try to out grapple your opponent with some good, old fashioned, scientific chain wrestling. Each superstar or legend has a set number of reversals available to start each match. The ammount of reversals available seems to be based on how big of a superstar they are. Main eventers, past and present, start with the most reversals. Mid-card or lower talent start with less. Once you use one of your reversals, you can earn it back through keeping your momentum during a match. This reversal system makes for a pretty good balance of gameplay because it gives bigger stars better stats but no matter what, no superstar will be able to reverse every move you attempt to throw at them. It gives everyone a fighting chance.
Also, I haven't mentioned my infatuation with blood and wrestling for a while but I do like the fact that they still allow blood to be present in WWE games. It makes the matches more exciting and there's some cool effects to go along with it. For example, if you bust your opponent open with a steel chair shot, their "blood mark" will be visable on the chair for the rest of the match or until the chair is "used up" and disappears. Just one of many nice little details throught the game. I think anyone who's played a WWE game in the last 15 years or so knows that there are spots where the game can get a little glitchy.
I never ran across anything "game breaking" while I played, though. Just the usual wonky entrance of a superstar every now and then or weird physics on the ring ropes when you enter and exit the ring sometimes. Nothing big.
All in all, I really enjoyed 2K16. I was even pleasantly surprised by some things. The 2K Showcase mode got a little old after awhile but it did let you unlock all of the cool extras of the game like the playable legends and arenas so, it was worth playing through. I imagine sometime in the near future, I'll lace up my boots again and give it another try. It also makes me look forward to the inevitable WWE 2K18 release that's sure to be coming up. Although I don't keep track of the exact release date for things like this; I'll be looking forward to it nonetheless.
Also, before I go, I'd like to thank one of my favorite YouTube channels, Funhaus. Their hilarious WWE 2K17 gameplay series is mainly what got me into the spirit of trying this game. I say everyone should give this one a try. Even if 2K17 is available and 2K18 is upcoming; this 2016 model is still pretty solid.
Until next time.... keep mashing those buttons!