By Dean Moses
Platform: PlayStation 4, Play Station 3, Xbox One and Xbox 360
Rating: T for Teen
October is upon us again, golden leaves descend and Halloween is on the horizon. For WWE fans fall is less about trick or treating, and more about the release of the newest wrestling video game: WWE2K17.
Life Between The Ropes
For the past few years WWE games have employed the 2Kshowcase mode, a single player experience that allows one to relive famous matches from Vince McMahon’s actual televised product, including the best WrestleMania bouts in history and the greatest moments in the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. 2Kshowcase has been a must play for fans, so it will come as a surprise to many that developers Yukes and Visual Concepts have done away with this popular mode to focus on other aspects of the game. After the standard exhibition modes, this only leaves My Career and WWE Universe modes for players to indulge in. We have seen Universe before, an in-depth micromanager that allows the customization of shows and Pay Per Views, from the cities and dates they fall on, to which wrestlers and championships appear on them. This year, however, it has been keenly tweaked and enhanced, but has neglected many new features, leaving little new to participate in. If you are familiar with previous outings, you will know what to expect here. My Career mode tasks you with creating your own superstar before delving into the wacky world of WWE programming, creating rivalries and friendships, chasing titles, and even following merchandise sales. Sadly, this sounds a lot more entertaining than it actually turns out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it can still provide a good time in short bursts, yet over prolonged periods of play the content becomes somewhat monotonous, with the infrequent cinematic scenes feeling like a godsend.
Grappling with Gameplay
While the story modes are rather lackluster, the gameplay is at its bone crunching finest. The more realistic, simulation style of last year is continued and ultimately optimized this year. Grapplers become exhausted over long contests, new taunts allow for extra showboating, and the transitions amid moves are almost seamless. Other new additions include combatants rolling outside of the ring to gain their composure in triple threat and fatal four way matches, just as they do on television, and, perhaps the most substantially enhanced element, the ability to duke it out among the crowd and in and around the backstage area. Throwing an opponent into the boss’s office and preceding to beat him or her to a pulp as the C.O.O looks on in displeasure is a welcome inclusion. The wrestling world changes fast, new men and women are introduced year round, therefore the roster must reflect these changes, which WWE2K17 has done a fantastic job of achieving. Fan favorites such as AJ Styles, Enzo Amore, and Samoa Joe make appearances. Not only that, the women of the World Wrestling Entertainment are finally given their due with the likes of Charlotte, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Sash Banks, Bayley, and Asuka, all rivaling their male counterparts in athleticism. There are still many characters missing, though. Like many games on the market today, WWE2K17 suffers from the disease that is special editions and preorder bonuses. In order to obtain the insanely popular Shinsuke Nakamura you must shell out $100 on the NXT edition, and for Goldberg you would have had to pre-order the game. These characters will become available to purchase later, still locking out content from players who purchased the standard edition feels slightly unscrupulous.
The visuals primarily look gorgeous. If you are aware of a superstar’s real life equivalent, you will be stunned by their likeness. This is achieved via wrestlers tangible faces being scanned, thus allowing the developers to recreate the famous athletes virtually. The inability to scan older and/or deceased WWE alumni shows, thanks to these individuals looking more like PlayStation 2 models than what should be gracing current generation systems. Aside from this slight discrepancy, A WWE game has never looked so good.
I have been an avid fan of the WWE2K series since its inception, never missing a release. Nevertheless, the criticism that these games are nothing more than a roster update has never seemed more deserving. Hardcore fans and those new to the franchise will find the updated gameplay and the ability to fight in the bowels of the area a treat, yet sadly this is not enough to keep things interesting until next October. WWE2K17 feels like a bone with a few, juicy and enjoyable scrapings of meat clinging to its hollowed-out surface.