WWE is one of the most recognisable brands on the planet. From having it in all of our homes as growing up, it’s something that is known around the world; yet for some reason, where football, American football and other sports have prospered in the video games market, WWE has stalled time and time again, and WWE 2K16 is no different to any of the previous outings the professional wrestling company has produced.
As soon as the game starts, it’s evident that, graphically, it is lacking. On the current generation of consoles, players have become accustomed to seeing works of art unfold on their screens – games like Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto V and Tom Clancy’s The Division have set an unprecedented bar for visuals in video games. Play WWE 2K16 and you get this:
It’s not exactly a work of art. Renee Young is the person featured in this picture, and is a very attractive woman (as are most who work for WWE), but the game lets her down. It lets a lot of other WWE Superstars and Divas down too, as seemingly, characters cannot look natural with long hair, as it appears to be pasted together. On the whole, while we are firmly set in 2016, WWE 2K16 could easily be mistaken for a game made a decade ago.
Especially when compared to the visually beautiful UFC 2. While the latest instalment in the UFC franchise has not been released yet, trailers have shown that on top of pinpoint graphics, the characters in the game move smoothly and strike with the fluidity that they would inside the Octagon. This is yet another issue WWE games suffer from.
Inside the squared circle, it is paramount for wrestlers to be fluid in their transitions between moves, and even though the matches are scripted, these grapples can be extremely hard to pull off. However, it seems in WWE 2K16, wrestlers have even more problems than they would in real life. Walking around the ring seems clunky, as if they aren’t really sure what to do, changing directions while running can be a nightmare, and, even when it goes smoothly, seems like changing direction on a game from the 90s. The grappling system has been markedly improved since WWE 2K15, but it is still something that is ultimately too limited.
The problem with the system for each wrestler is that they have a specific amount of moves in their set; once those are full, you cannot add any more without taking some away, and that is just the opposite of what the WWE stands for, although in a game this would be extremely hard to control. Whereas in a UFC game, controls would be standard for each athlete; WWE cannot have the same focus as there are just too many different moves that a Superstar can perform. However, each wrestler does have two spaces for signature moves as well as finishers, but it’s the basic moves that end up lacking.
While there are hundreds of different suplexes that can be performed, you can be sure that each wrestler might have only three or four to play around with, which just limits the experience for the player. On top of a lack of moves for each wrestler, the system is flawed by the ease in which the player builds to their finishing manoeuvre. In a real match, you would see a wrestler like Randy Orton hit his patented RKO at the end of the match, but in WWE 2K16, performing three taunts and hitting three moves is enough to build up to it, including one of his signature moves. While overall a very difficult factor to overcome, it moves the player away from a realistic experience.
There are three different main modes that the player can enjoy with WWE 2K16 – WWE Universe, Career and the Showcase mode. The WWE Universe and Career modes are very similar and anybody who can wrestle more than five matches in a row with the same Superstar or Diva should be commended, as after half an hour of gameplay, it becomes incredibly tired and repetitive. Due to the limited number of moves each Superstar can perform, every match just turns into a blur of the same thing over and over again, which obviously is not the desired effect.
The Showcase mode is a refreshing addition, as the player goes through Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career and plays different matches with the Texas Rattlesnake. Out of everything to do, it is easily the highlight of the game, and is very entertaining, giving numerous different objectives to complete within each match to ensure that each one is as similar to what happened in real life as possible.
What is arguably the most laughable thing about WWE 2K16 is the ratings for each wrestler. Each wrestler is rated out of 100, just as with most sports games, but half of them make no sense in the slightest, and it’s incomprehensible that some Hall of Famers have been disrespected in the manner they have with this game. Mankind and Ricky Steamboat are apparently as good as current Superstars Stardust, Ryback and Bad News Barrett; with all due respect to the crop of current wrestlers, none of those three hold a candle to Mankind or The Dragon. Eleven-time world champion Edge is rated as good as zero-time world champion Cesaro and current NXT Champion Finn Bálor, who has not been featured on any of the main shows as of yet. To put the icing on this shambolic cake, The Big Show, who himself said he has probably won eight matches in the past two years, is rated better than Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and Ric Flair, and is on par with The Rock and Shawn Michaels. It just seems like whomever created the ratings system closed their eyes and typed in two numbers from the 80s and 90s.
The kicker is that it doesn’t look like they will pick up any time soon. The company keeps putting out a substandard product and the audience laps it up, just as they do every Monday night for Raw.
Lastly, here’s a picture of what should have been Mike Tyson, except WWE couldn’t get the licensing to use him in this game. He looks more like current day D-Lo Brown than 1998 Mike Tyson.