The roar of the crowd, the music hits, it’s JOHN CEEEENNNNAAAA!!! He runs to the ring, where Randy Orton stands, coiled up like a snake. Yes, it’s that time of the year when the stars of WWE make their annual migration to console and you get to experience moments like this. And the usual debates about how the game plays in comparison to the favourites of the series’ fans. Here in this WWE 2K17 Review we’re going to find out how this one stacks up against 2K Games’ previous outings.
Read below my thoughts on the game based on my Xbox One playthrough, including a look at all the elements and a new promo mode that was something a bit different for their series. Don’t forget to leave me a comment at the end with Disqus or Facebook and check out more of our Reviews Here.
So how does 2K17 measure up to the Hall of Fame of wrestling games? Let’s make our way down to the ring and find out.
The Look of a Champion
The WWE games have made serious graphical leaps over the last 20+ years, and with the new gen of consoles, new games have come with serious tech. The facial and body capturing on display for the last couple of games is here again.
That said the new menu overlay is dull. The main menu is white lines around lists of text, you don’t have to click into the menus, you just move to the thing you want and select, but after so many bright, busy menus it feels a little…. Bland.
Although you do get to see superstars walking across the screen behind the menus. Which is kind of cool, but seems to be a wasted effort as perhaps this space could have been saved for fine tuning the gameplay.
The Squared Circle
The games have gone through as many control configurations as visual overhauls over the years, and fundamentally this system remains familiar from the previous entries to make the transition easy enough.
The main updates here relate to how much the game can cope with. My first match was a falls count anywhere match against John Cena. I learned a few of the new tricks and traits of 2K17. First off, you can fight backstage, you can fight in the crowd, and you can fight in the ring, in the locker rooms and even in the GM’s office.
When fighting out of the ring, the camera changes to a side on view, more in line with WWE’s programming, however this camera can get a little jittery, so it would be nice to have the option to have a ‘classic view’ – it’s a relatively minor issue I know, but it is worth noting.
The presentation change I liked the most was what happens if you are far from your opponent or walking away backstage in a separate section of the locker area. The screen splits right down the middle and both you, and your opponent are in separate halves.
In previous games the camera zooms out, and online this was exploited by annoying players to annoy you into quitting or whatever (an idea called griefing) so now that cannot happen it certainly makes you more keen on playing online.
That said this camera angle/split and some of the backstage area action, pre-patching, becomes riddled with frame rates issues. At time of writing, there has already been a large patch, and some of the behaviours seem to have steadied out, but there are still some glaring inconsistencies.
Balancing on The Top Rope
The presentation issues aside, the game looks good, but as with all WWE games since they became yearly releases, there is a fine balancing act. 2K17 launches out of date – I am not criticising the game for that, it is just a fact.
The game launches with no Universal title, no cruiserweight title, the Dudley boys are on the game, Billy Gunn is an unlockable (if you are wondering he has been fired, and is a no-no for the company due to drug issues in real life) – these things relate purely to the nature of the wrestling, just an interesting state of affairs.
There are odd little issues in the game where moves look a little clumsy, glitches relating to collisions, and some of the contextual moves change as you try to trigger them (this for me was move noticeable with strong strikes).
Weapon collisions behave a lot more favourably than past entrants in the franchise, there are also new ways to position ladders to use them as bridge, new ‘OMG’ moments.
Lots of new moves, and a few tweaks to the kick out, skills and limb targeting, but the most ‘fan service’ of the systems tweaked is the submission system.
There are now 2 options, the ‘cat and mouse’ thumbstick version, or a button mash button, you will need to bash the button that shows in meter, fill it, and the character will tap out, if they fill it, they escape.
This change, and keeping the option of both, will allow fans to play that part of the game how they like.
Speaking of customisation
A Universe of Possibilities
As always, you can create custom superstars, entrances, you can download other creations, tweak movesets, you can add to that custom celebrations, and all of it is shared by the community. What I alluded to earlier in this article about the game being outdated can be fixed with a download of missing superstars and titles from the community creations.
It does also pose the question about the need for DLC on this game, but I digress.
With new (and much improved) scalability options for custom characters, my character (based on my, and not the one you’ll see in a bit) looks tubby, but imposing. Which makes me happy.
Then there is universe mode and career mode. Universe mode gets three slots this time around, which is nice, meaning you could play through a few years, start a new file, keeping old progress and trying new characters and new ideas, all without losing time invested elsewhere.
The career mode plays much as it did last time around, and tells of your rise to prominence, and part of this is the newest, and probably most divisive features on the new game.
Last year we had the odd backstage interviews, where stars were given face/heel bumps depending on responses.
Promos go beyond that and feature a myriad of options: break up a tag team, turn heel/face, self promotion, and call someone out. This mode breaks down to text selection, similar to the typical RPG dialogue tree. And whilst hard to master, they feature some fun choices including some not-so-PG language.
You have a time limit to make selections, and some are better than others, although the game doesn’t indicate the consequences of your choice. That said I would presume eventually a guide will surface on the internet.
WWE 2K17 is a good wrestling game. It is one of the better modern games, however that said it is hampered by some niggly technical things, which can and probably will be patched over time.
It has some great ideas, but really serves to prove that wrestling games could perhaps do with an off year, so many changes are being levied at these games that even ideas like Universe mode or Create an entrance feel unfinished.
Perhaps 2K games could title the next one WWE 2K18 and launch it in time for ‘Mania 2018. This would give them a few extra months to fine tune and iron out the few niggles that dampen an otherwise fun game.