I've been a wrestling fan for the past few years. No, I'm not talking about UFC and I'm not talking about boxing. I'm a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment, more commonly known as the WWE -- you know, scripted wrestling. I attend live events, I buy apparel, and quite frankly I spend more money on wrestling-related gear each year than I would like to admit.
I originally intended to purchase WWE 2K16, but the mixed reviews made me hesitant. Our sister site Gamespot gave it a 4 out of 10, while others have called it "the best wrestling game in years." The game scored a 74 rating (out of 100) on Metacritic, a CBS-owned website (as is CNET) that aggregates reviews from a variety of sources.
I've now played the game for the past few weeks and have had more fun than I expected. It's not exactly a home run, and if you go in thinking it will be perfect you will be let down. But there's a lot to like about the game, and wrestling fans will enjoy battling it out with their favorite superstars.
Can I get a 'Hell, yeah'?
WWE 2K games include a special Showcase mode that allows you to play historical matches and events. Last year's WWE 2K15 game focused rivalries between a number of high-profile wrestlers, such as John Cena vs. CM Punk and Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.
Rather than focusing on a variety of different characters, the Showcase mode in 2K16 lets you play through the long and wild career of cover star "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. It's straight wrestling nostalgia as you play as Austin against opponents like Bret Hart, Dude Love, Vince McMahon, The Undertaker and The Rock. The best part? WWE legend Jim Ross returns to call the matches.
Normal matches are called by Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and WWE Hall of Famer John "Bradshaw" Layfield, another welcomed addition to the game. The commentary isn't anything special and definitely not the same as watching an episode of Raw, but it gets the job done. Unfortunately, all three characters look terrible, but we will get more into that in the next section.
Aside from the Showcase mode, my favorite feature was being able to create my very own WWE superstar. I've already come to terms that I won't be a professional wrestler, but I can at least live out my hopes and dreams inside of a video game. WWE 2K16 includes Create a Diva/Superstar, Create a Show, Create an Arena, and Create a Championship features. There's also a MyCareer mode, which returns from last year's game. Oddly enough, though, you can't use a diva in the MyCareer mode.
Meanwhile, I had fun creating my very own character and working my way up through the ranks of NXT. I had originally hoped to make it to the main WWE roster, but I'm not very good at the game (and it gets repetitive). The MyCareer mode has a number of exciting feature. You can tailor your character's traits for a specific wrestling style, hire a manager or sidekick to distract referees, and make decisions that result in you being either a heel or face (a villain or a good guy). My character is currently a face and aligned with Finn Bálor (I ran in and protected him during one of his matches). I also have a feud with Tyler Breeze, which is fitting because I can't stand the character in real life.