Developer: Visual Concept/Yukes
Publisher: 2K Sports
Review Context: I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since the late 80s and 90s. I’ve played a lot of wrestling video games and still consider WWF No Mercy (N64) to be my favorite.
Date of Playthrough: January 23, 2017
Another year, another WWE 2K series fans are hoping new features would be added, or in a fantasy world, have the series go back to its prime with arcade gameplay. Since this is the only wrestling game around, (sadly) you don’t have much of an option. While modes are added to show they’ve heard the feedback, modes have been removed as well. Is this the year 2K Games gets it right with WWE 2K17, or will you skip this quicker than a Goldberg match?
With the help of Visual Concepts (NBA 2K series), the visuals for the wrestlers are done better for some (Kevin Owens), while others make you wonder what went wrong (Diane Brooks). The arenas look like their TV counterparts and the movements are more realistic running at 1080p at 60 frames per second. However, for the first time, I have noticed the game will drop in frames when a finisher is performed. This would be the start of things that surprises me on how this got passed Q&A (Quality Assurance). The motion capture for the moves are well done, which makes me hope that WWE will give Visual Concepts full rain on development since Yukes’ engine is really showing its age despite being reworked.
The gameplay has stayed unchanged for the most part with a few exceptions. You can finally taunt on the turnbuckle, and doing so helps your meter to make your moves do more damage on your opponent for a brief time. The game starts off faster by removing the collar & elbow tie up mini-game. Submissions are now a QTE (Quick Time Event), but you can go back to the old format if you want. The most improvement in gameplay for me is the targeting system. Doing matches that consist of multiple wrestlers, I mean “superstars” would be a pain to lock on someone, only to get suplexed because I didn’t focus on that person. Not only is the targeting on manual by default, but the speed to lock on is much faster and I can now have a fair fight.
When it comes time to perform a finisher the input still takes its time to display, causing you to leave yourself defenseless. Counters are limited but you can turn it off. I prefer limiting amount of counters to prevent the game from being about how many reversals you can do. With these tweaks, I still find the controls only good for veterans of the franchise. Newcomers will be turned off by the complex controls, which is unfortunate, since I find wrestling games to be the most fun for multiplayer.
One of the main stays for wrestling games are the insane amount of modes available. On the older WWF/E games this would be the case, but for some reason there will be a mode, for example in WWE 2K14, only to be removed the following year. After being absent since WWE TV barely does this on their show, the return of backstage brawl is back, but features had to be sacrificed for this.
The biggest mode omitted this year (unless you get the Hall of Fame DLC) is 2K Showcase. This single player mode would have you follow the timeline of a certain wrestler to revive moments from their time in the company. Since Brock Lesnar is on the cover, I guess having him suplex opponents would be tiresome, but they could’ve went back to his first time with the company when he did more than one move.
With that, My Career makes a return with some new tweaks. You are no longer limited to using a created wrestler and you can choose to start on NXT (developmental) or the main roster (Raw or SmackDown). The mode also shows what a wrestler has to go through with the crazy schedule of the WWE, along with a new promo system giving you a certain amount of time to say a certain phrase that would declare you a Heel (bad guy) or Face (good guy). Too bad they don’t let you know who you are based on the decisions you make. One of the biggest gripes with the mode from the previous game is that you would be in feuds with someone for a very long time and that is still present this year.
Customization has you now creating your own titantron video so your created wrestler no longer has to walk out to the WWE logo or someone else’s video package. Thanks to copyright, you still can’t upload licensed music for your intro. While the amount of modes is present, some matches have been removed for reasons unknown, like the Tag Team Ladder match. WWE Universe makes a return for you to make your fantasy booking come to life with weekly matches and picking who you think should be the face to run the place. It is shown be noted that the game was in development before the draft, so you don’t get the new Raw and SmackDown Live sets, but thanks to the Community Center, you can download arenas, belts, wrestlers, or create your own. You also create alternate attires for the current roster, but it once again takes up a create a wrestler slot which makes no sense. Why is it I can create not one, but four alternate attires without taking up a slot on an N64 game but not here?
The roster lineup is decent while outdated since some members are no longer with the company *cough* Alberto *cough*. The legends lineup is impressive, but you have to unlock them with in game credits that brings back the days of unlocking content, but for $5 you can skip this.
The online mode has its moments when I go from having decent to unplayable matches, as 2K Games’ netcode is known for having spotty connectivity issues from time to time.
While the sound effects of the crowd and ambient noise of the wrestling ring sounds like what you would hear in a WWE match, I need to take this moment to rant about something that has plagued this franchise. From WWE ’13 to now the commentary has been atrocious due to multiple repeated lines of things being said that is not happening and the cut/paste tactic of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and John Bradshaw Layfield letting you know they are reading from a script with no cares given. Even worse is if you downloaded the HOF (Hall of Fame) Showcase; when you do the fantasy match of Papa Shango vs The Godfather an outtake by Jerry Lawler is in the game. Even with the latest patch, the outtake of him flubbing his lines and telling the director to do a retake is still left in as of this writing.
For me, this shows how little 2K cares since it’s a yearly franchise, and with no other wrestling game in town, they have the “Madden effect.” Now with that, Visual Concept does a fine job with the NBA 2K series (for the most part) and their commentary is the highlight. I believe if WWE gives VC full reign on the series and drop Yukes, I feel the series will be in better hands.
Similar Games Liked:
WWF No Mercy (N64)
WWF SmackDown (PlayStation)
Similar Games Disliked:
WWE Raw (Xbox)
WCW Nitro (PS)