Review: ‘WWE 2K16’ is the undisputed champion

The definitive video game wrestling experience has arrived, and it’s name is “WWE 2K16.” The newest edition of the 2K …

The definitive video game wrestling experience has arrived, and it’s name is “WWE 2K16.”

The newest edition of the 2K Sports’ franchise improved upon last year’s title in virtually every way.

A truly massive roster of more than 120 current and past WWE Superstars offers someone for everyone. As expected, all of today’s biggest names are present, and it’s no surprise to find the likes of Ric Flair and “Macho Man” Randy Savage on the roster. But the inclusion of names such as Mikey Whipwreck and Savio Vega shows how deep into the past “WWE 2K16” goes. Gamers were spoiled this fall.

More importantly, the in-ring action is better than ever thanks to come key changes in the reversal, submission and pinfall systems. Reversals are now a limited resources, preventing the reverse-fests that played out last year. They recharge over time, but planning when to use them or goad them out of an opponent is major strategy now. Pinfalls and submission are more workable this time, although AI opponents have a distinct edge over humans on the harder difficulties.

MyCareer is back and improves upon last year’s foundation. The lengthy mode drops players into the fray much quicker this time, and the addition of interviews that dictate your created superstar’s personality add new life to the proceeding rivalries. It’s still a bit of a grind, but it’s more entertaining overall.

The best mode remains 2K Showcase which, unfortunately, only offers one story line to play through instead of last year’s pair of stories. The good news: This 2K Showcase is the career of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, “2K16’s” cover boy and one of the most popular Superstars of all. It’s a treat to relive the highlights of The Texas Rattlesnake’s career. More of this is always better.

Online play remains a mixed bag in terms of connectivity, which is the only real knock against “WWE 2K16” other than rare in-ring glitches that didn’t mar the experience.

But it would be pessimistic to place great emphasis on those negatives. The graphics are better, the commentary team is boosted by the addition of John Bradshaw Layfield to the team, the creation suite is deeper and allows for more created content to be stored, WWE Universe offers more options, there are more match types, and AI Superstars make (mostly) more intelligent choices.

“WWE 2K16” is the best professional wrestling game of the millennium, perhaps ever. Don’t be afraid to challenge it to WrestleMania.

“WWE 2K16,” from developers Yuke’s and Visual Concepts and publisher 2K Sports, is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Scott Fontana