A solid installment of the game that improves on many facets, but lacks a certain polish.
For any of you that know anything about me, I freakin’ love professional wrestling. More importantly, I love WWE because that is the marque name when it comes to “sports entertainment.” For years, I’ve bought wrestling games and loved every second of it. This year is simply no different. WWE 2k17 is a solid overall game that has a lot to offer any wrestling fan.
As solid as a Phenonemal Forearm
I absolutely love the controls of this game. The game feels smooth, and flows nicely, as if you’re actually Finn Balor taking on Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship (you can’t recreate the Universal Championship match at Summerslam this year, because the Universal title doesn’t exist in the standard game. More on that in a bit…). The reversals feel realistic, the kick-outs feel more natural, and taunting even got an overhaul… It no longer strictly increases your percentage towards a signature or finishing maneuver, which saves me from taunting countless times as my opponent recovers.
Reversals also received a major overhaul. The timing is more effective, and reversing actually means something. Typically, there is not a spot monkey sequence as there was in previous years. If you hit that yellow reversal, it likely means you successfully gained the upper hand and can start hitting knockout punches. The chain wrestling is less frequent, and doesn’t engage every time you grapple someone in the green. Thank you 2k for changing that. In a typical WWE match we see that once or twice, not 5 to 6 times until someone actually gets exhausted. Submission sequences are less forced, and don’t feel as loose as last year’s game. You have some direction and can change it quickly dependent on your guy’s defense, but you’re not running into yourself like you were last year.
The targeting system is a saving grace for all multi-wrestler matches. You click in on the right stick and bam, you are targeting someone else. Previously, you just had to hope your superstar would auto target the right person. How infrequently that happened astonished me last season. My guy is always a face, yet is tackling the ref! How stupid. 2k fixed that this year, and it creates a much more deliberate experience in tag-team matches, and fatal four-ways, etc. The gameplay is some of the best we’ve seen in years, and all they did was tweak it. There are, of course, the times when you go through the ring, or slip through the barricade. Those are called glitches, and every game has em. Deal folks. Just deal.
Like Wrestlemania 32, it was awesome, but something was missing.
This part is relatively simplified because there aren’t many game modes, and that’s not a bad thing. Let’s start with the big glaring hole: there is no 2k Showcase. Honestly, this game mode is what I used to change up the game for myself, like going to shoot-around mode in NBA 2k or doing Ultimate team in Madden or NHL. It’s a change-up for myself so I don’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again (which happens with any sports game). So it is unfortunate they didn’t create a showcase for Lesnar or Goldberg or one of the prominent superstars who have had huge “moments” in the WWE. It’s a loss, but not a huge one.
The reason why is Career Mode and Universe Mode. Truth be told, I did not get the full Career Mode experience because of the NXT edition pre-downloads. I shot all the way to the main roster pretty much from the get go. Learning on the fly has been fun though. The new promo engine is fun and innovative, but lacking in the fact that the guy does not talk! Your superstar will mouth his promos, and then the text will appear at the bottom. It’s painfully awkward at times. And it’s also hard to tell what you’re actually going to say because you only get a small piece of the context in the 4 selections. You could pick something that says “I’m here to dominant” and your superstar will say “I’m here to dominant and prove the WWE Universe sucks.” Whoa there Sweetwater, you’re a face, quit being a heel. The ability to cut a promo though? Extremely unique compared to the past when it was strictly backstage interviews.
You also have the option to become a “Paul Heyman Guy,” which is incredibly intriguing as well for anyone who has watched the product in the past few years. He’s taken so many superstars to the promise land. Rob Van Dam. CM Punk (Punk was there but Heyman helped). Brock Lesnar. The thought of being able to become a superstar that guy would like to manage? How awesome is that? Plus, you can’t even be considered a Heyman guy, until you win your first belt. True to form, Heyman sticks to winners (let’s not talk about the failed Ryback, Curtis Axel, Cesaro moments).
Universe mode is just as deep as it was in years past. This is like My Career but with GM mode from NHL 17. You control everything! If you’re like me, you take your created superstar, inject him in the Universe, and play GM with the talent you have at your disposal. Thankfully, they made your career mode superstar exportable, which was taken out of last year’s edition for whatever reason. You control the rosters for every show: Raw, Smackdown, NXT, even Main Event and Superstars. You control the championships, and frankly, you control the card. That dream match of Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn at Mania for the World Title? All in your hands. The downfall? The brand split is not built into this, but you can re-create if you so desire.
Through this, storylines are created through the wins and losses as well as superstar reactions. Through there, you get the opportunity to go after certain achievements that allow you to open more and more avenues. Universe mode is just as deep as ever, and it allows you the chance to go outside of WWE even, and create your own organization like Lucha Underground or ROH. Even TNA if you dislike yourself. OBSOLETE.
Like Paul Heyman’s Smackdown, it’s your playground.
Admittedly, I’ve never been much for wrestling online. It’s one of the few sports games where I dislike online gameplay, simply because it’s such a hard thing to get used to when you’re tapping buttons and trying to control the flow of the match. I love the concept but dislike the execution. This year’s servers are pretty solid and I’m sure it’s a mode I will attempt to dive into at some point.
Online with this game is built around the community. People can upload and download created superstars and championships. This is the one good thing about the Universal, World Heavyweight, and Women’s championships being so similar. You change the background and the leather strap and you’re good to go. The ability to share and customize is a great resource for debuting superstars from other promotions (Roderick Strong, TJ Perkins, and so on and so forth).
+ Gameplay is arguably better than last year
+My Career can eat up hours out of any day
+The customization capabilities make you believe you’re better than Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley as acting GM.
+NXT Edition has a lot of cool additions
-The lack of 2k Showcase is disappointing
-The additions to the game are not as fleshed out as they should be
-Ratings for wrestlers are questionable at best
-I’m still sad about no CM Punk, and that’s a me issue I’m dealing with.
Brunner 1.0 is not a stupid idiot, and the only list he makes is “Member of the Geekiverse.”
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