If you’re ready for a new WWE game, gimme a “hell yeah”!
WWF/E video games have been around since the NES, highlighting the stars of the day like Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Andre the Giant, and that mystery burst of air that somehow lifted and bodyslammed Andre at Wrestlemania III (formerly known as Hulk H-... I mean, burst of air, yeah) in various matches. They’re that unique, vaudeville crossover of competition and storytelling, which makes them ideal for the video game world. And they’re all under the 2K banner for the third year now, so we can get regular yearly updates like other sports and “sports entertainment” franchises.
According to their information there are over 120 playable characters available within 2K16, which is nearly double the previous game’s roster of 75. A final roster hasn’t been revealed yet, but we should expect not only WWE and NXT, but legends and members of the Hall of Fame, and hopefully a few surprises. And if somebody’s not there, Create-a-Diva and Create-a-Wrestler modes are available (dunno why this wasn’t an option last year, but hey, water under the bridge, right?... right?...) to help bolster the massive roster even further.
But if you're interested in the Terminator, you'll already have 'em there—Arnold Schwarzenegger's classic T-800 is already included. If you missed Triple H's entrance at Wrestlemania 31 this might be a surprise, but The Ahhnold has been around WWE for decades now, so he's getting his chance in the form of his classic T-800 character.
Parts of the game look a little rough, but the version I played isn’t a finished version, so those final touches (like hair that swims across shoulders and odd collision issues) should be resolved by launch. By and large, the characters shown look true to form, from Seth Rollins’ partially-dyed hair and scraggly beard to Tyson Kidd’s headphones and hoodie (get better soon, Kidd!), and their reactions to punches and submissions look right. The most striking visual thing is their eyes—they’ve been rather hollow and lifeless before, and now they seem to actually have some life in them (for some characters at least, like Austin).
Chain-wrestling isn’t going to mess with casual players here, instead replaced by a simple, timing-specific reversal that can shift momentum between players and makes strategic play a necessity. Different attacks have a different amount of reaction time, so while it’s entirely possible to counter-counter-counter-counter, it’s just not likely, so the dominance change can come off more real to the experience of watching wrestling on TV or PPV. This means the flip-flopping that makes a match interesting is able to be achieved by more players and give the match more weight.
The “Showcase” mode is back again, created with actual footage from the events being recreated and displayed before starting in on the action. The only scenario available to me was Stone Cold mixing it up with Jake “The Snake” Roberts for King of the Ring honors in 1997, as a form of introduction to reliving history. The game plays it out fabulously, complete with Austin’s slow and deliberate Stunner (before he was handing them out like a coupon kid outside a grand opening). And with Jim Ross back for those matches once again, combined with the introduction of JBL to the commentary team, the background voices of the WWE are better than any previous game has been.
The game is slated for release in late October of this year around the world, and the WWE faithful will have a familiar-yet-new experience to play through (and create misleadingly-titled YouTube videos with when I miss a big match and go searching). It should receive less backlash than the last version did, that much should be good at least. But we’ll see how the final game plays out in October. ¡Viva la raza!