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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that WWE 2K16 is the latest installment in this long-running WWE wrestling-game franchise. Players take on the role of male or female wrestlers trying to become champions. The sport is violent and dangerous, with many moves risking serious injury to both the performer and the target. Wrestlers' heads can be targeted and cut open by repeated attacks, with blood covering their faces. Weapons can be used to assault wrestlers, with arms and legs targeted and crippled for the duration of the match. Billboards and messages remind players not to attempt these moves at home. Wrestlers wear tight, skin-revealing clothing, with some using pelvic thrusts and gyrations as taunts to opponents. Some drinking references can be found in videos and on fan-made signs in the audience. The words "ass," "bitch," and "bastard" are frequently used in dialogue. There are serious privacy and safety concerns thanks to unmoderated multiplayer.
What's it about?
WWE 2K16 is the latest release in the popular wrestling franchise on the PS4 and Xbox One. The game has received a ton of enhancements and additions to make the on-screen action feel much like the television shows and Pay-Per-View events. This year's title packs the largest roster ever seen in a wrestling game, with more than 120 current and Hall of Fame characters included. This year expands the WWE Universe mode from last year to allow players to cast wrestlers on multiple shows, further complicating matches and battles between superstars. The My Career mode not only lets you conduct post-match interviews but also allows you to set up rivalries and ambush your opponents as you try to become a champion in your own right. The Creation Suite has been boosted significantly, with more options to create championships, divas, arenas, shows, and more. Additional adjustments have been made to in-ring action, including revamps to the pin system, striking mechanics, and reversals of incoming attacks.
Is it any good?
This year's installment for wrestling fans overwhelms with depth and content that will keep gamers playing for months. Many of the omissions that were left out of last year's game have been included for this year's title, such as the ability to create divas, championships, and shows, making players feel like the GMs of their own shows or events. It's also great to see enhancements to the MyCareer mode; you almost feel like you're cutting your own wrestling promos when you're answering interview questions, letting your personal attitude shine through. Speaking of attitude, the decision to focus the 2K Showcase on Stone Cold Steve Austin really highlights the Attitude Era of the WWE. His style of wrestling drives home many of the new gameplay elements, such as triggering a reversal to avoid a match-ending finishing move or running in and ambushing other wrestlers during a fight.
There are so many improvements in this year's game, it's hard to highlight all of them. But there are still a number of mistakes that can't be overlooked. For one, though it highlights NXT as a development ground for the show, there's no focus on the Divas division and the NXT women that brought much-needed excitement to shows this past year. The reversal system, though much better than last year, can still feel flawed when you really need it; even if you pound on the counter button at the time the prompt pops up and your reversal meter is full, countering can still be hit or miss. Plus, though the presentation of the game has been expanded to a three-man commentary roster, they have a tendency to repeat the same dialogue constantly or at the wrong moments, which breaks the broadcast-like feel. And sure, there are still some graphical issues and glitches, even with a big patch that comes with initially starting the game. But many of these issues can be overlooked, especially if you consider the large roster and the number of customizable elements that have finally been added back. For wrestling fans, WWE 2K16 cleanly pins all comers for the win.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between simulated violence and real-world violence. Why do you think some fans attempt to perform their favorite stars' moves at home? Do they not understand the risks associated with most wrestling moves, which are choreographed and practiced for hundreds of hours by professionals?
Talk about rivalries. Why do you think fans enjoy the rivalries that constantly erupt in wrestling? Are there ever really "good guys" when many players attack or ambush other wrestlers?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.