Wwe 2K16

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Last year, WWE returned to the PC for the first time in over a decade with WWE 2K15, which was a welcome sight for the wrestling fans of the platform. The WWE 2K16 instalment builds upon that, but doesn"t take very many steps forwards, and it"s a shame to once again see the PC version arrive about six months after its console counterpart. Nonetheless, WWE enthusiasts are sure to have a great time, but anyone who wasn"t convinced before, isn"t likely to see much to change that view.

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The most notable change to the gameplay comes through the reversal system. Superstars and Divas have up to six boxes, each of which indicates the ability to reverse a move. These refill throughout the match but, while all are empty and the first slowly refills, the wrestler is very vulnerable and pretty much defenceless. This change adds an element of strategy to the game, but can often reduce matches to baiting an opponent to use up all of his or her reversals, and then unleash an unstoppable barrage. The new system does remove the chance of matches descending into spamming the reverse button, but the reality is that it all starts feeling very one-sided, very quickly.

Anyone familiar with the TV show will know that wrestlers have frequently interrupted each other"s entrances to attack their opponents and get an early upper hand. Finally, this feature has been implemented in a videogame. Not every match time facilitates the ability to do so, though, as is the case with cage matches. The only drawback to this is that matches will automatically end in a draw if all the competitors are not in the ring within an undefined amount of time. Initially this is an annoying realisation, and turns into something that limits an, otherwise, great feature. Hopefully, a future instalment will make it possible to take the fight backstage, before eventually entering the squared circle.

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Outside of those two changes, it is difficult to notice any other differences. Matches still begin with the chain-grappling mechanic which is a rock, paper, scissors mini-game that leads to rotating the analogue stick to reposition or reverse a hold, depending on the player"s position. The stamina meter still dictates whether or not a character can do any kind of move, which can lead to awkward situations where it is necessary to stand around while the meter refills before performing a finisher. Some wrestlers can now use rest holds, just like the show itself, so that he or she can refill the stamina meter while staying in control of the match.

Once again, the main attraction is the 2K Showcase, which this time follows Stone Cold Steve Austin, from his days as Stunning Steve Austin, to the birth of Austin 3:16 and beyond. The Showcases is made up of a series of matches that represent key moments in Austin"s career, each with different objectives to complete. This is a great way to step into the shoes of one of the biggest wrestlers ever, but it can be disengaging to be drawn into a cut-scene with a QTE in the middle of a fight. Even worse is the fact that these segments run at 30fps, which can be very jarring. Archived footage helps to make the experience truly authentic, and audio is even applied to cut-scenes rendered with the game"s engine to complement the video clips. Despite its problems, the 2K Showcase is probably the best single player element of 2K16, so it"s a shame to see only two different Showcases, the second being made up of matches staring inductees of the 2015 Hall of Fame, like "Macho Man" Randy Savage, while last year"s game had five.

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In addition to the Showcases, the MyCareer and Universe modes provide more in terms of single player gameplay. MyCareer involves creating a Superstar and taking him from NXT to the WWE Championship and beyond, through a series of battles and storylines. There is a rating out of five stars in each match, therefore, it is beneficial to keep the crowd entertained with a variety of moves to get the best reception. The mode has been expanded, by giving a choice of which championship belts to challenge, introducing The Authority as the antagonistic faction that can help or hinder the player"s career.

Universe mode returns to let players take control of the whole WWE, not just a single Superstar. Managing every show from Monday Night Raw to PPVs like Wrestlemania, involves either letting the computer simulate the results of each match, or actually playing them out to craft a storyline according to a specific vision. These two modes are welcome returns, but they don"t do a lot to build upon the older versions, so the biggest draw is the increased roster size, which leads to more options. Anyone who continued to enjoy these in 2K15, is sure to welcome their return, but those who grew tired of them still won"t find much to keep their interest.

The offline multiplayer modes also haven"t taken huge strides forward, as some key match types are still noticeably absent, like Casket matches and the Three Stages of Hell which were in 2K15"s Showcase mode, but not available elsewhere. The existing types have been made available to more players, for example TLC matches can now be played under Triple Threat and Fatal 4-Way Rules instead of just one-on-one, yet it"s hard to get excited for something that has been in previous WWE titles. Online play fares a little better this year as it isn"t unplayable, but there is noticeable input lag, meaning that the online community isn"t likely to grow as it isn"t a very smooth experience.

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2K15 was criticised for omitting older customisation features, even something as fundamental like creating a female wrestler. 2K16 corrects this, as it is once again possible to create a female wrestler, as well as a show, arena and championship belt. 2K shouldn"t be praised to including features that had been inexplicably removed, yet it is a welcome sight to see them finally return. The customisation suite also includes the option of sharing creations with others, so it"s easy to add new life to the game without spending a lot of time tweaking character models. It actually didn"t take long to find stars like Goldberg, Rob Van Dam and AJ Lee ready to import into the game.

All of the different gameplay options outlined above are delivered in a package that look fantastic. The well-designed visuals make each match look like it was taken from the TV show, especially as nearly every Superstar and Diva has been facially scanned to make them look as authentic as possible. While the in-ring action runs at a smooth 60fps, the frame rate inexplicably drops to 30fps during entrances, and even cut-scenes seen during the middle of a match in the Showcase mode, which is a shame as it jars the experience. The commentary can get very repetitive, very quickly, but the lively crowd keeps the atmosphere alive with chants of "this is awesome" after particularly incredible moments, like putting something through the roof of Hell in a Cell.