Roman Reigns WWE 2K16
Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring in "WWE 2K16". Facebook/WWE 2K

“WWE 2K16” greatly improves over one of the few things “WWE 2K15” did right, moving away from the arcade-style grappler of year’s past and becoming an actual pro-wrestling simulator. While it’s still not a perfect game due to inconsistent visuals, it is definitely a step in the right direction and a big improvement over last year’s game.

Definitive wrestling gameplay

Simply put, “WWE 2K16” is a game changer to the genre, as the game’s new limited reversal system is also one of its best features. Players will have to be strategic with their reversals, as the bars refill slowly, once the reversal bar is empty, players will be sitting ducks when their opponent gains a signature or finisher.

The game also introduces a revamped submission system, which is admittedly a bit hard to use at first. Players should get used to it after a few matches, but it’s definitely more difficult to get the submission win this year.

Like last year, stamina continues to be an important aspect of the game, since a lot of it is needed to execute finishing moves and to make opponents tap to submissions. To refill stamina easily, the game introduces a new rest hold mechanic, which lets players drain the opponent’s stamina and refill theirs, making it incredibly handy.

Brock vs Undertaker in WWE2K16 (Credit: YouTube/WWE2Kdev)

Old and new modes return, better than ever

Many fans were disappointed when “WWE 2K15” stripped away a number of match types, along with create-a-diva and create-an-arena. It was originally thought that the My Career mode would compensate for this, but many fans felt that it was too simple. This was due the lack of compelling storylines and an over abundance of filler matches that the player had to slog through, in order to advance the story.

Thankfully, 2K Games has listened to fans, as “WWE 2K16” not only brings back a number of match types from previous games, but also reintroduces create-a-diva and create-an entrance, with more options than before. Players will be able to import their faces and logos for their custom superstar, diva or arena, truly showing the power of a current-gen console.

Last year’s disappointing My Career mode has also been vastly improved. Players start out in NXT, as they learn the ropes and build their stats, before heading to the main roster, with the goal to reach the WWE Hall of Fame.

Not only is the mode longer, but it also offers more options as well. Players can initiate rivalries with other superstars, form tag teams and even interfere in a rival’s match.

Player choice truly dominates My Career mode, as players can stay in NXT as long as they like, participate in a number of rivalries and even defend their championships on a regular basis. Gone are the days when Vickie Guerrero would have nothing to do for the Intercontinental Champion. Fans can also choose to be a face (hero) or a heel (villain), with backstage interviews with WWE’s resident interviewer Renee Young.

WWE 2K16 Creation Suite (Credit: YouTube/WWE 2K)

An action-packed history lesson.

The 2K Showcase more or less remains intact. This year, players get to experience the career of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who is arguably the most popular superstar in WWE history. Fans will get giddy with nostalgia, as they re-experience his awesome rivalries with Bret Hart, Vince McMahon and The Rock, while also participating in his early matches with “Flyin” Brian Pillman and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

If there’s anything wrong with the Showcase mode, it’s that players will be playing as Steve Austin for a long time, participating in 30 matches or so. Additionally, some fans might get tired of constantly fighting The Rock or Bret Hart, so the mode is best played in small bursts.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Jake Roberts: WWE 2K16 2K Showcase walkthrough - Part 1 (Credit: YouTube/WWE)

Inconsistent presentation in a superstar package.

The game’s presentation is a mixed bag. While modern day superstars like Stardust and Finn Balor look great, the game’s legends are of an inconsistent quality. The late British Bulldog for example, looks great and is one of the game’s best character models. On the other hand, Ricky Steamboat and Jake “The Snake” Roberts look a little too cartoony, compared to the realism of the other characters.

It also doesn’t help that some of the series’ familiar glitches continue to appear. While they don’t break the game, it is distracting to see a character’s foot twitch around after a stomp, or an opponent flip after a ground attack.

Verdict: Buy it

Despite some flaws and a couple of nitpicks, like Ryback starting off with his heel entrance and Booker T having the exact same character model from last year, at the end of the day, they’re just nitpicks. While it’s still not perfect, it’s definitely a step in the right direction and is one of the best wrestling games to come out in years.

Right now, no other wrestling game matches the pure satisfaction of countering Randy Orton’s RKO with one reversal left and finishing him off with Kevin Owens’ Pop-Up Powerbomb. Add up the player choices of My Career and reliving the birth of “Austin 3:16”, it’s clear that “WWE 2K16” has something for even the most jaded wrestling fan.

*This review was of a next-gen version of "WWE 2K16." The versions for PS3 and Xbox 360 will not have My Career, or the new gameplay enhancements, as noted by WWE 2K.

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WWE 2K16 Launch Trailer (Credit: YouTube/WWE 2K)