WWE is a sport that involves two oiled up grown men slapping the shit out of each other while faking injury and near death. But you know what, I bloody love it. Ever since I was a kid I've watched it and loved it. Even now I still watch the big events WrestleMania, Summerslam, Hell in a Cell etc, etc. But I've never been a fan of the video games that come out every year. WWE216K is the latest entry into the series but is it as much fun as the real thing.
There are a lot of modes on offer. Fancy a Tag team match? Go ahead. What about a one-on-one? Sure, why not. You wanna Cage match I hear you cry? Go for it. Ladder tag team? Obviously. Handicap tag team? It would be rude not to. Tornado tag matches? Elementary my dear Watson. But the star of the show for me is Showcase mode where you get to play as Stone Cold Steve Austin and replay the important matches that elevated him into superstar status. With online modes and Universe mode there is a lot to do here.
I've never been into the whole create a character concept but here it's tweaked into something I have never seen before. Not only do you assign attributes but you will need to develop your character's personality through interviews. These do come across are very strange and bordering on weird. But this is the WWE universe and anything goes. I didn't spend an awful lot of time playing as my own creation and why would I when the roster is full of 120 WWE Superstars to play as.
Without any hesitation I chose to play as the greatest WWE Superstar there has ever and will ever be, The Deadman, The Phenom, the one and only Undertaker (although I still have a soft spot for Mankind but that's a tale for a different time). As the lights darkened and the bell tolled I felt shivers down my spine and the hairs on my arms stone to attention. I wasn't expecting to feel this way but I still love The Undertakers entrance. I went into this game fully expecting to be stood in the middle of the squared circle slapping the shit out of my opponent. How wrong I was. There is a lot going on here and it's brutally hard.
I spent the majority of my opening matches on my back scrambling to get up only to be knocked straight back down again. This led to a lot of frustration and time after time I was defeated. This game is all about timing though and once you get your head around that it just flows. Kicking, punching and bodyslamming your opponent's all feel great and really give you a good sense of weight and impact when they connect. But the game relies too heavily on reversals and these are a right bitch to pull off. Your timing has to be impeccable. I like to think my reflexes are highly tuned after all my years spent gaming but these are ridiculous and if your opponent has you cornered this is your only way out.
The problem with reversals is they are a ball ache to do. You have it press a button to counteract whatever it is your opponent is about to do and it has to be timed to absolute bloody perfection and I do mean frigging perfection. There is no margin for error. If you mess the timing up that's it you're now going to get the shit kicked out of you and it really kills the fun which eventually just leads to frustration and shouting expletives at the TV. Getting out of a submission holds or tie-ups triggers a bizarre mini game that involves moving sliders of different colours in opposite directions or making circles movements with your right stick. These are also excruciatingly painful to get right and completely disrupt the flow of the game.
As bad as all that sounds and the fact that I'm finding the game incredibly hard I am enjoying myself. I'm not sure if it's the entrances which less face it are as integral to the whole experience as the actual wrestling or the odd time I'm victorious but it has that must have another go quality. I've never been a fan of sports games and I loose more times than I win. But in my defence I am getting better, just. So for the first time in my life I'm loving a game that I am completely shite at and I don't care. And for the record I was complaining to my 13 year old Stepson about the difficulty and he just laughed and challenged me to a one-on-one match and kicked my arse 5-0. The little shit.
Review copy supplied by XCN.
Game: WWE 2K16.
Developer: Yuke's, Visual Concepts.
Publisher: 2K Sports.
Platform(s): Xbox 360/Xbox One.