Tag Archive: kane


A mid-card contender

The Attitude Era, a time period that engulfed wrestling in the late 90s through early 2000s, is widely considered to be the pinnacle of modern sports entertainment. Never before had WWE’s brand reached such a wide audience, and many of the television ratings records set back then remain standing today. So, it is no wonder that when wrestling video games need a pick-me-up, they look back to that era for inspiration to put themselves back on track—and WWE 2K16 is no exception.

After a down debut on current-gen consoles last year, the annual WWE 2K franchise looked to one of the greatest faces of the Attitude Era—Stone Cold Steve Austin—as a reason to inject some much-needed edge back into the series. The Texas Rattlesnake was a beast for WWE starting with his meteoric rise in 1997 through to his retirement in 2003, so it’s no surprise that they’d model this year’s 2K Showcase mode after him.

Letting players relive many of Austin’s best matches from his time with WWE is a concentrated shot of nostalgia that any child of the Attitude Era can’t help but enjoy, as classic footage is spliced with recreated in-game cutscenes. Making things even more enticing are Bonus Matches. After completing certain bouts, some of Stone Cold’s best pre-WWE moments—like when he was “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW—are unlocked, letting you take on the likes of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and many others.

While the 2K Showcase mode is great for a walk down memory lane, where the WWE 2K series usually shines is when it lets gamers play wrestling god and create different matches, wrestlers, arenas, and more to satiate whatever their heart may desire to see inside the squared circle. Or, if they’d prefer, they can walk the path of a superstar themselves and see what it takes to win major gold in the world’s premiere wrestling promotion.

For those micromanagers out there, WWE Universe returns, letting players pit their favorite wrestlers of the past and present from the WWE series’ largest roster yet (120 superstars and divas combined) against each other. If you want, you can create major wrestling shows for every day of the week, cultivating made-up arenas with the returning Create-an-Arena feature, and then watch as matches play out. You can also step in, if you’d prefer, and influence the direction of your WWE over the course of several years on the calendar. There are even adjustable sliders that can affect a wrestler’s personality this year, influencing how they will or won’t act in the ring, and injuries can now occur, drastically shifting storylines at times just like the real-world WWE. The only knock against WWE Universe is the inability to create more detailed storylines, but seeing as how much you are able to customize here, filling in the gaps for the usually impressive AI isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Sometimes the best part of the WWE games aren’t just playing as your favorite wrestlers from TV, but inserting yourself, or some crazy cockamamie monstrosity, into the action. Create-a-Wrestler is far deeper than it was last year, bolstered by the fact that you can upload your own personal designs quickly and easily via the WWE 2K16 website to put on your wrestler or their clothes. You can even upload your own face—like I did to create super-journalist Murrow Thompson—and really feel like you’re getting into the game (quality of results will vary).


You can also customize your wrestler’s moveset, with thousands of attacks and abilities available to you. My only disappointment here is the lack of Create-a-Finisher, as nothing makes your wrestler feel more like your own than piecing together a finishing move that no one else in the world has, even if it borrows parts from already existing moves. I think a pop-up DDT would’ve been just what Murrow needed to enlighten the masses; instead I settled for Dean Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds.

Once you have a created wrestler, you can then import them (or a different superstar made from scratch) and enter the revamped MyCareer mode. Looking to add a stronger sports simulation aspect to the traditionally arcade-inspired WWE series, last year’s MyCareer mode was the worst kind of grind that culminated in a single Wrestlemania match. This year is different.

Starting off in NXT, your mission is to one day make the WWE Hall of Fame. By wrestling in highly regarded matches, you can build your character up to more easily achieve a series of possible career goals that will lead to guaranteed enshrinement. What goals you pursue are entirely up to you, however. You can dominate at the mid-card level, winning the US and Intercontinental titles multiple times. Or, if you’d prefer, you can try to hold every title once and get the career Grand Slam. Wrestling in certain kinds of matches at certain venues as well as a multitude of other paths can also catapult you to the desired stardom you require. Although, I will warn that if you choose to focus on tag team gold, the AI for your partner may make you want to go the way of The Rockers sooner rather later. You also get to actually play an entire career, instead of flash forwarding to your retirement match upon completion of certain objectives (unless you choose to retire, which is entirely up to you)—giving the mode much needed longevity and replayability.

There are also more ways to play to the crowd and develop your wrestler’s personality. By participating in Extreme Rules matches and the like, and using weapons and tables, your aggression and other personality traits will adjust. The most important personality factor, however, comes from your post-match interview with Renee Young. From here, depending on your answers, you can start rivalries, change alliance, or turn face or heel. What decisions you make there can in turn gives you more options, like participating in a new feature that allows you to interfere with your rival’s matches.

The biggest addition to MyCareer mode is the in-match feedback on how your match is going. Move variety, hitting signature and finishing moves, and sprinkling in some “OMG! Moments” will help result in a 5-star match. Repeating moves, never countering, or quick matches will result in lower stars and less progress for your character. This emphasis on move variety helps each and every match feel genuinely like something you’d see from the real life WWE.


Even with all these modes and the additions made to them, though, it would all be for naught if the in-ring product did not make advancements from last year’s game—and in a fair amount of ways it did. A slew of new mechanics have been added to WWE 2K16’s gameplay, and most of them work very well. A new, slowly refilling reversal meter finally nerfs players who know how to perfectly time every move, with each wrestler only having three-to-five reversals to start a match, and you’re never allowed to hold more than whatever you started with. You can also now slow the pace of matches down with Working Holds. Just like in real life, these allow wrestlers to catch their breath while also draining the stamina of their opponents. These two changes alone greatly expand the strategic depth you now carry into the ring, especially when combined with the chain wrestling and stamina meters added last year.

One gameplay addition misses the mark, though, and that’s the new submission system. The button mashing minigame of yesterday is thankfully dead, but in its place is an overlay system where you must try to get your bar to consistently overlap an opposing wrestler’s. The more tired they are—or if it’s a finishing submission like a Sharpshooter—the easier it will be to make them tap, but controlling the bar makes it feel like you’re wrestling the controller as much as your opponent.

WWE 2K16’s in-ring product has also seen its fair share of polishing. While the occasional glitch still pops up, it’s nowhere as bad as last year. Many character models also look much better—especially impressive considering the 120-person roster—but there are still a few examples where wrestlers look like they were being pulled from games that are two or three years older than this. While she never steps in the ring, I feel it necessary to point out the aforementioned Renee Young looks particularly stiff and frightening during your MyCareer interview segments.

It also needs to be said that, unlike the look of the game, the commentary has not come very far. Some new lines have thankfully been recorded to avoid as much repetition as last year, but too often Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler talk about subjects irrelevant to the match, making you think at times the dialogue has glitched. Oh, and it sounded like JBL, who was added to mark the first time we have a three-man commentary team in the game, had a cold when he recorded his lines.

Some minor annoyances aside, WWE 2K16 has taken a step largely in the right direction. Many, but not all, features missing from last year’s game return. Online functionality was questionable on the first day of launch, but seems to have stabilized over the weekend from what I’ve seen. A fully realized MyCareer mode and reliving the glory days of Stone Cold Steve Austin highlight an improved in-ring experience and the largest roster in the series’ history. While not ready to hog the spotlight like a main eventer, WWE 2K16 should find a nice spot on any wrestling fans’ roster of fall games.


Developer: Yuke’s/Visual Concepts • Publisher: 2K Sports • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 10.27.15
A big step forward for the series, WWE 2K16 is still some polishing and a new submission system away from being Hall of Fame material, but should make a nice living as a stop gap in your library before hopefully bridging the gap to a bigger and better game next year.
The Good The fleshing out of MyCareer. Reliving Stone Cold Steve Austin’s glory days. The long-awaited balancing of reversals. Return of many match variations.
The Bad Submission system still misses the mark. I miss Create-a-Finisher. Tag team AI needs work. Awful announcing.
The Ugly The haunting robot that claims to be Renee Young when it comes time for your MyCareer interviews.
WWE 2K16 is available on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by 2K Sports for the benefit of this review.

CM Punk continues his unending quest for respect and not even Mr. McMahon would get in his way! All the details inside this week’s Sleeper Hold!

Main Plot Overview:

Monday Night RAW this week was one of the most adrenaline fueled, emotion driven episodes we had seen in quite some time, but that’s what happens when the Chairman of the Board is back in town. Yes, Mr. McMahon was present in Sacramento, CA, for his annual state of the WWE address. However, CM Punk would not let him finish since he felt that Vince McMahon, for the longest time, had been the most disrespectful one of all to Punk.

With a slap that no one would soon forget, Punk walked out of the ring laughing as Mr. McMahon writhed on the ground. But no one pushes Mr. McMahon around and gets away with it and with more venom and anger than we had seen probably in his entire feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin now more than a decade ago, McMahon said if Punk didn’t face him that night, he’d simply fire him. With an insane gleam in his eye, Punk gladly accepted.

And surprisingly, it was an interesting match. Heck, Vince put on a better match with Punk than John Cena has in half of the matches he’s had with Punk. At first, the WWE champ dominated the much older McMahon, but Vince doesn’t back down from a fight and when Punk thought his point had been made and turned his back, he made a vital error. The match then took on a somewhat old-school ECW vibe as Kendo sticks and announce tables soon became the theme of the match as the men battled and beat each other down. Finally though, Punk, with a pair of Kendo Sticks, wailed on Mr. McMahon’s back and it looked like he would be down for a while.

Then came Ryback.

Punk ran out of the ring though ‘like a scalded dog’ as JR so eloquently put it in his Oklahoma drawl, but there the injured, one armed John Cena came down to the ring and blindsided Punk, threw him into the ring, and Ryback got his last meal of the night. When he went to hit his finisher though, Punk wriggled out of his grasp and this time ran through the crowd. McMahon then drabbed the mic, his eye bloodied from the confrontation, and laid out an ultimatum for Punk. At Hell in a Cell he had two choices. Face John Cena for the WWE Championship. Or face Ryback for the WWE Championship.

Honestly, it’s clear that Cena is nowhere near 100% and that these Ryback interventions have been to try to build him up to Championship status in a short time. This ‘ultimatum’ is just another move by WWE to see how Cena heals after another week of rest and rehab. At this point though, I think Ryback versus Punk would make for a very interesting PPV match because Ryback is clearly a beast and the crowd loves him flaunting his power. Ryback would never come out victorious though because the ‘Punk is scared of Cena’ storylines are ripe for the picking once John is healthy again enough to continue his feud with CM Punk should Punk ‘choose’ Ryback.

Match of the Night:

There were some solid matches during this RAW. From Antonio Cesaro again dominating to Ryback being fed Epico and Primo and doing his maneuver on both men (yes, he put almost 500 lbs on his shoulders and walked around the ring carrying them). Of course, my favorite part of Epico and Primo is Rosa Mendes who seems to wear less and less now whenever she comes to the ring.

But no, these would not be our Match of the Night. In fact, hell no! As in Team Hell No versus Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio in a tag match was the winner. Kane and Daniel Bryan continued their winning ways after their odd mix of teamwork resulted in Kane choke slamming Dolph Ziggler (and Ziggler selling it very well as always) and getting the 1, 2, 3.

The best part of this match though was how it had a very old school tag team match feel with the heels dominating and isolating Daniel Bryan for a large chunk of the match before Kane got the hot tag and went crazy. And then we still saw glimpses of Team Hell No’s disfunction as the two would then tag each other in and out for the end of the match until finally Kane’s choke slam would prove to be the deciding factor. It was one of the better wrestled matches I’ve seen in a while and that’s a credit to all four combatants and it ended with a clean victory fitting of the faces that Kane and Daniel Bryan are becoming.

Promo of the Night:

I wanted to give this to possibly to Daniel Bryan and Kane arguing more backstage with special guest Larry King for when Daniel Bryan said that Kane looked like someone slapped him in the face with a Fruit Roll-Up, but one great line does not a promo make, no matter how funny it was.

No, and not really that surprisingly, it has to go to when CM Punk interrupted Vince during the State of the WWE address. It felt like they had wanted it to be more a Vince/Stone Cold promo of old, but Punk and McMahon went much darker and deeper than that and it felt more like the pipe bomb that Punk dropped a year ago as he started talking about how Vince held him back and didn’t know what to do with him. And then the slap was a great exclamation point as Punk then chastised those who cheered him because they were doing it only to be ironic. WWE has to be careful though because if they push Punk too hard with this heel arc, although he plays a great one, he’s getting dangerously close to ‘crazy Austin’ territory and all the work he’s done over the year could begin to unravel.

Shocker of the Night:

There really wasn’t much that was shocking on this episode of RAW beyond CM Punk, but in order to keep this from being dominated by Punk, I’m going to choose the Divas Championship match between Kaitlyn and Eve because it was actually well wrestled even if it was only a 5-minute match. Kaitlyn, still nursing her ‘injured’ ankle would finally cash in her Championship match as number one contender and dominated Eve for much of the match hitting some great maneuvers and even showing off some strength herself until said injured ankle gave way on an atomic drop.

Eve, ever the opportunist, would lock Kaitlyn into a painful looking submission maneuver that focused on the ankle (it looked like a cross between a figure four and an ankle lock) and Kaitlyn would have to tap out. But this was a rare women’s match that I enjoyed watching for the actual wrestling and not just the hot ladies in skimpy clothing. Definitely a shock to me.

Cheap Pop of the Night:

For some reason Larry King was on the show, promoting his new Hulu series I believe, and so a promo between him, Kofi Kingston and the Miz (looks like they’re finally going to give Kofi another singles push with a focus on the IC belt) erupted when the Miz demanded everyone sing him happy birthday.

Besides this though, there were two cheap pops in this segment. Larry King started it off by exclaiming his love for Sacramento and the Kofi did the same thing when he took the stage and the microphone. A good segment all around for Miz and Kofi as Kofi did some high-flying acrobatics off the stage and onto the Miz, but the pair of pops (which even the Miz pointed out) to get a rise out of the crowd for the pointlessness of Larry King was easily the Cheap Pop of the Night.

A little late this week due to the Labor Day hangover, but it wasn’t the best episode of RAW this week either as, although we all love CM Punk as much as the next guy, as you’ll see, it was a bit too Punk-centric for my tastes. So here is this week’s Sleeper Hold!

Main Plot Overview: Things kicked off big time on RAW as Punk ambushed Jerry Lawler and kicked him in the back of the head again. Lawler was so hurt, he would not take part in this episode of RAW as Punk continues his rampage looking for respect.

Punk could do no wrong in his hometown of Chicago though until he decided to skimp out on the Champion vs Champion match he had lined up against Sheamus by GM AJ Lee. Punk, claiming to take a personal day (after all, it was Labor Day).

Punk would not completely leave the arena since his Night of Champions opponent John Cena was still to be in action though and when Cena’s Falls Count Anywhere match with Alberto Del Rio went to the back room, Punk intervened and hit a GTS on Cena on the hood of a parked car. This gave Del Rio the win and we also then saw our Shocker of the Night shortly afterward.

Match of the Night:  There wasn’t much going on this night in wrestling aside from CM Punk stealing the whole show, but one other rivalry that’s brewing is Dolph Ziggler vs Randy Orton and talk about putting on a show. These two guys are both some of the most technically sound wrestlers on the RAW roster and with each one hitting great spots, this match was a joy to watch. Although it ended on a classic heel move when Ziggler grabbed Orton’s tights, everything up to that point was terrifically tight and a shoe in for Match of the Night.

Promo of the Night: Just in order to break up the CM Punk love, we’re giving the Promo of the Night to the Kane/Daniel Bryan anger management sketches. They’ve been hysterical watching Bryan and Kane work out not only their personal issues with each other, but in general. Kane, of course, is angry because he’s the Devil’s Favorite Demon, his real dad being Paul Bearer, etc. And Daniel Bryan is just being angry at the WWE Universe. They also set up the hysterical ‘Hug It Out’ option, which the WWE voted for, but devolved into Kane wreaking havoc as always.

Shocker of the Night: Although it came in the final 15 seconds of the show, this was easily the most exciting moment of the night. After knocking out John Cena and helping Alberto Del Rio pick up a win, CM Punk got into a car and started driving away. But before pulling all the way away, the driver rolled down his window, and Paul Heyman stuck his head out. What this means for the WWE Champion and John Cena’s match at Night of Champions, we will have to wait and see until next Monday, but at least we have something to look forward to now.

Cheap Pop of the Night: Easily the Cheap Pop of the Night came during everytime CM Punk opened his mouth as he related everything to his Second City home of Chicago. Even when he stormed out of the arena, he expected his hometown crowd to understand as he related it to them taking the day off for Labor Day. So all night long, CM Punk’s lovefest with Chicago takes the Cheap Pop of the Night.

This week’s Monday Night RAW saw the love triangle that has been AJ, Daniel Bryan, and CM Punk start to sink the champ and the number one contender. John Cena, Chris Jericho, Kane, and the Big Show are also starting to get into each other’s heads as MITB is right around the corner. Teddy Long was this week’s Interim GM and he put on the quite the show. Quick note folks: EGM will be down at San Diego ComicCon all next week and so The Sleeper Hold will be put on hold for a week. Thanks for understanding.

Main Plot Overview: With an opening promo that really set the two main storylines off and running, it’s hard not to start getting excited for MITB. Although John Cena continued to walk the company line and turn all negatives into positives, Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan saved the day with a hysterical catchphrase battle with Jericho obviously winning as he has a much fuller repertoire than D-Bryan.

CM Punk also came to the ring though and talked about the irony of AJ being the special guest referee for his and D-Bryan’s MITB WWE Championship match, but soon Kane and Big Show joined the fun before all hell broke loose.

Clearly, the WWE knows the WWE Championship has the best players involved right now so by putting over both Punk and Bryan’s blossoming rivalry along with re-inserting John Cena and his rivalry with Big Show and Jericho and Kane into the picture, this is the reason why we continue to watch wrestling. And the best part is how AJ finds a way to always steal the show!

Match of the Night: In terms of match quality, this was one of the weaker RAWs we’ve seen in a while. Most matches ended in only a few minutes or didn’t even get started due to classic heel maneuvers. It was good to build characters up for the MITB PPV again, but if you were looking for any kind of wrestling, this definitely wasn’t the night to watch.

But if I had to choose, I was pleasantly surprised actually by the Mixed Tag Team match between the odd team of Sheamus and AJ taking on Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler. Obviously, this was mostly a match between Sheamus and Dolph as the two put on a really good show hitting very solid spots. If they had put on this good a match at No Way Out, I would’ve walked away a much happier camper than I already was from that PPV. The end was also solid as after Sheamus Brogue Kick’d Dolph out of the ring (just after Dolph did the cowardly heel move of tagging in Vickie), AJ came in, pulled off a couple of nice moves including her Daniel Bryan-esque kick to the head finisher and got the pin.

Promo of the Night: As good as the opening promo was, especially with Jericho and Bryan trading catchphrases, and a later catty one between Eve and AJ that was surprisingly solid, the clear winner for this is Paul Heyman’s interview via satellite with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.

Heyman’s big announcement was that Brock Lesnar is waiting for the 1,000th episode of RAW to announce if he will participate in Summerslam (need to fill those three hours pretty badly now). But it wasn’t just this announcement, it was that he declared he had figured HHH out. That HHH wanted to be destroyed at Summerslam by Lesnar because then HHH could be a hero, the king carried off the battlefield on his shield and placed in the corporate suit he has desired for so long without losing any face with the WWE Universe or the wrestlers in the locker room. And he did with that classic Heyman venom that makes you appreciate how good a heel he truly is.

Shocker of the Night: Tyson Kidd’s quick upset of Tensai was in the running for this, but again this seemed to just be a way to build up hype and conflict between participants in MITB. But it was the frontrunner until the very end of the night.

At this point, AJ’s continued interference in matches isn’t something new or surprising. In fact, it’s getting close to the point of irritation now (I still love her though) and hopefully this storyline will start to wind down after the results at MITB. But how she decided to interfere in the CM Punk and John Cena vs. Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan tag-team main event of the night was absolutely brilliant.

After all four men entered the ring for the standard chaos that ensues in these kinds of tag matches, Cena and Jericho fought each other up the ramp and out of sight. Punk and Bryan, the legal men, then put on a great individual effort with quick pacing, a few great spots with counters and high flying maneuvers, and then AJ made her appearance. When ignored by the two terrific tacticians in the ring though, she resorted to desperate measure and pulled out a table. Maybe like the Dudley Boys of yesteryear, she’s got a thing for wood. Anyway, she climbed to the top turnbuckle and made it seem like she was going to put herself through the table. Finally, Punk and Bryan’s attention was got and they moved over to convince her it wasn’t worth it. When in the right place, AJ then pushed them both through the table, started laughing maniacally, and started a ‘Yes’ chant all her own. My jaw dropped as my fellow New Jersey AJ native pulled one over on the WWE Champ and number one contender. Wow.

Cheap Pop of the Night: Continuing the trend leading up to the 1,000th episode, Heath Slater has been taking on WWE Legends. And for a good while I thought this would be the week the streak of this being the ‘Cheap Pop of the Night’ would be broken as Doink the Clown returned to a WWE ring…unfortunately. Lucky for Heath though as he finally broke his losing streak and emerged victorious. The cheap pop came though when DDP, Diamond Dallas Page, walked down to the ring to congratulate Heath on the win. After a hearty handshake, not surprisingly, DDP then hit the Diamond Cutter and the crowd erupted.

Honestly, DDP looked in bad shape. He was deathly thin and I thought he was going to hurt himself doing the Diamond Cutter and looked the worst of all the Legends to come out for this segment so far. I also wonder what sorry sap had to come to ring dressed as Doink as I highly doubt it was the original.

If you smell what the WWE is cookin’

After a decade-long brand divide, the WWE’s recently made strides to show unity with their RAW and SmackDown shows and pay-per-views. In response, their yearly videogame’s dropped the annual SmackDown vs. RAW title to hammer home this brand solidarity—but that’s not all that’s changed in THQ’s annual wrestling sim. WWE ’12 finds a way to take the great customization and storyline strides that last year’s game made and refines them to provide the most authentic wrestling simulation to date.

Of course, what’s the first thing any player does with a typical WWE game? Check out the Create-a-Superstar feature! Even non-wrestling fans get caught up in the fun of creating a grappler from the ground up, and this mode sees much of the detail of previous versions return, along with new logos, designs, and physical-feature models to hit an even wider range of possibilities. But WWE ’12 also adds the new Create-an-Arena mode. Not only can you whip up your own wrestler from scratch, but you can also dedicate a squared circle to your grappler—or any of your real life-favorites. Hulkamania can run wild again with a ring drenched in red and gold, or you can show off your Macho Madness with a rainbow electronic ticker in honor of the dearly departed Randy Savage—and this is just scratching the surface of a mode I poured several hours into alone. And you can once again create logos, finishers, movesets, and even your own intro videos for the Titantron—and it’s all shareable via the WWE Creations online feature.

Another key to making this the most authentic WWE experience yet? The WWE Universe and Road to WrestleMania options. Now featuring stories that more closely mimic those you might actually see each week on RAW or SmackDown, these modes make every match and decision truly count. Maybe you’ll try to bring Sheamus back into the limelight of the WWE Title chase or push your created character to the top of the ranks and make him a legend in his own right. The Road to WrestleMania’s been trimmed, though—instead of choosing from one of five superstar storylines, you simply press play and begin the near-endless simulations of what you might see from varied wrestlers’ points of view.

But the action in the ring’s where you might see the biggest step up. The controls now feature a more casual-friendly A-button grapple prompt instead of the second analog stick, which actually gives the game a bit more of an arcadey feel, as you’ll find yourself button-mashing a bit more than you’re used to—the experience almost hearkens back to the No Mercy and WWF Attitude days in some ways. This might bother some people, but it isn’t striking enough that you won’t be able to adjust. The in-ring action’s further augmented by improvements like “wake-up taunts” to help set up finishers, better movement on the ring ropes, and an onscreen presentation that more closely mimics the actual WWE TV shows.

One element that’s definitely been criticized in past iterations, though—and it crops up again here, unfortunately—is the collision system. You’ll still see the occasional “quicksand” glitch where a wrestler’s suddenly waist deep in the mat, while an Irish whip against the steel steps can have you or your foe quivering and quaking for several seconds. Still, these moments happen more rarely than I’ve seen in any previous version of the game.

WWE ’12 is strong coat of polish on last year’s game, and when you combine that with even more customization and creation features and a beefed-up roster of several dozen wrestlers (including old standbys and never-before-digitized legends, like one of my personal favorites, the man they call Vader), and you’ve got by far the best WWE wrestling simulation we’ve seen to date—one that’ll layeth the smacketh down upon any and all wrestling haters.

SUMMARY: Some control improvements and fleshed out game play modes highlight the deepest WWE videogame experience yet.

  • THE GOOD: The most realistic WWE experience yet
  • THE BAD: Some collision and control issues remain
  • THE UGLY: Some of the created characters already uploaded to the servers

SCORE: 9.0

WWE ‘ 12 is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.

Originally Published: November 11, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

I reviewed WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 for the Xbox 360 from THQ as a part of CGR Undertow.

Working Like a Dog

Originally Published: August 20, 2010 on PlayerAffinity.com

It’s a classic story: The good hearted criminals who are looking for that last big score so they can ride off into the sunset comfortably and with a pretty lady in tow. Unfortunately, when you’re hired thugs Kane and Lynch, these situations usually end up going awry before they even get started.

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days sees our anti-heroes brought together again a few years after the end of the first game. Lynch has fallen into a nice situation as an enforcer for the number two crime lord in Shanghai and has been tasked with a gun running deal that will allow him to walk away from the business for good with his new lady friend Xiu. It’s a situation that is too good to be true and so he reaches out to his old friend Kane in the hopes of getting him a cut of the good life, especially since things have been a little rougher on Kane since last we saw him.

Kane’s daughter, Jenny, who miraculously survived the events around the first game’s ending, refuses to talk to her father, still blaming him for the death of her mother. Kane isn’t thrilled about teaming up with the still psychotic and pill dependant Lynch, but hopes that this last huge score will help him and his daughter make amends. Or at the very least, allow him to help Jenny achieve a semblance of a normal life from here on out.

As soon as Kane lands in Shanghai and is met by Lynch, you can just feel things are going to turn sour. Lynch informs Kane that he has to rough up a small-time hood with a big mouth before escorting him to his hotel and invites him along for the ride on what serves as the obligatory tutorial mission. As soon as Lynch (who you control this go around, instead of Kane like in the first game) kicks down the door, you know there is more going on than was originally alluded to as the small-time hood, who is in the middle of…umm…relations…with his girlfriend at the time, runs out the backdoor, firing a blind hail of bullets towards Kane and Lynch. The two quickly chase him down, while teaching you the basic controls along the way, and corner the hood and the half-naked woman in a dead end alley.

In the heat of the moment, Kane shoots the girl, who the hood was using like a shield, and the hood in turn cuts his own throat. As Lynch now recognizes the woman who Kane shot as the daughter of Shanghai’s largest crime lord, the two soon realize this has now become a mission of pure survival as there will be a bounty on both their heads that would put their arms deal profit to shame.

The most unique aspect of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days has to be the “real” cam the game features. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads everywhere with sayings like “Real is blood in your teeth”, etc. and then you see our two anti-heroes with Lynch showing a blood-stained grin. The entire reason for this was the new camera system for the game where it is as if a third person was following Kane and Lynch and documenting it with a handy cam. The hope was to make you feel as if you were watching amateur video on YouTube or the nightly news instead of something dreamed up on a Hollywood sound stage. They even go as far as to have the faces of those you beat extra brutally blurred out and to have the sound on the camera go in and out depending on where shots are coming from and who is yelling.

It was a novel idea at first, but after playing through an entire campaign and having the multiplayer locked into that feature as well, I think I actually felt nauseous from motion sickness for the first time in my gaming life. Add in the annoying glare from lights and how it gave the developers the chance to be a little more lazy when it came to environmental details and I appreciate the attempt at something new, but the “real” cam was more irritating that immersive.

Aside from the camera, the game is your standard third-person shooter and doesn’t blow you away with anything in particular. The “sticky” cover used in the first game has been replaced with your standard button prompt cover tactics as seen in Gears of War or Uncharted and you see a typical array of weaponry from pistols to machine guns. The game is also chock full of glitches in both single player and multiplayer. Although I admit I’ve never laughed so hard on headset until I saw a few of the awkward positions my teammates were left in after some of those glitches.

The plot is also very generic and you have a hard time relating to the characters as it seems they bring it all on themselves just to have an excuse to throw more enemies at you and give you a more difficult game experience. I truly believe that Kane and Lynch are two of the unluckiest characters in gaming history and it’s all because they are too stupid to get out of their own way. Next time, they need to include an option to make sure Lynch keeps taking his pills because I actually found myself getting frustrated at how stupid he would act.
One plus to the game is that the voice acting is solid. Everyone gives a good performance with the limited amount of dialogue incorporated. The graphics are not as strong, but again, this goes back to the “real” cam feature and that a handy cam is not going to push an Xbox 360 or PS3 to the limits.

Another mediocre point is the campaign more. You’ll only get your money’s worth if you crank the difficulty up to Extreme mode where one or two hits will kill you, otherwise there is only about eight hours worth of content with no replay value here.

Possibly the strongest point to the entire game is the multiplayer. The campaign is weak to begin with, so co-op does little more for it, but the versus modes are something to behold. Fragile Alliance mode returns and constitutes up to eight players who can work together to pull off a heist, or turn traitor on their teammates to try to collect all the loot for themselves and leaves room for some interesting headset moments when you’re the first victim of a turncoat. The victims though can get revenge as they get one life as a cop to try to take down the criminals and collect a cut of the loot for themselves.

Building on to Fragile Alliance is Undercover Cop mode where you not only have to worry about possible traitors amongst your gang of thieves, but the knowledge that it is one player’s sole purpose to basically turn traitor. The undercover cop’s job is that as soon as a crime has been committed, to take down all the criminals. Not always easy in a full room, but it can be done and can be quite the challenge. The final mode is Cops and Robbers which is a play on your standard six-on-six death match.

Overall, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is solid, but not spectacular. The new gimmicks employed in this game grow tired quickly and seems to be a blatant attempt to just dress up an alarmingly average third-person shooter. Worth a rental over a weekend, I’d only buy it if you fall head over heels for the multiplayer because the story mode doesn’t have enough on its own to make this a keeper.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best.

Graphics: 6.5: The “real” cam limits the amount of detail this game can go into, but the detail that is there is solid.

Audio: 8.0: Good voice acting with impressive sound effects due to the “real” cam’s built-in microphone makes this one of the game’s stronger points.

Plot/Plot Development: 7.0: Originally I had this as a higher score, but as I kept playing and continued to grow more and more frustrated with the stupidity of the characters, their situation became less and less believable and more and more frustrating and made playing through the rest of the story a chore.

Gameplay: 4.0: Glitches galore knock this down a couple pegs, but it was only mediocre to begin with. Couple the glitches with only standard third-person shooter action and little variety and you have a below average score.

Replay Value: 7.0: The return of the highly original Fragile Alliance mode and the new Undercover Cop mode highlight a tremendous multiplayer, but there is nothing to bring you back to the campaign, even with a co-op option.

Overall (not an average): 6.0: At the end of the day, Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is a standard third-person shooter with some bells and whistles that fall flat. The game is nothing spectacular besides the multiplayer, but definitely a nice effort overall. Worth a rental over a long weekend, but I would definitely hold off on a purchase unless you go bonkers for the multiplayer.

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is available now for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

-Ray Carsillo