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Review: WWE 2K17

by onOctober 23, 2016
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While most sport entertainment give their fans a choice, wrestling fans dont have the luxury of choosing between two competing licenses each year, but it doesn’t stop anyone to wait for the next WWE 2K. This year, WWE 2K16 is part once again in following the trend of its predecessors, from the good part to the same defects.

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Starting with the highlight is the MyCareer mode, now back for its third consecutive, accompanied by several changes. The first of them is that you don’t start in the NXT days, you’re more like at transition phase, and depending on your player avatar’s performance in its first evaluation matches, which will see you – if succeeded – straight into the WWE roster. The second change is the way your relationship will be Paul Heyman. In addition to managing your relations with the Authority, something already seen last year, the player can also choose to pay favors to Paul Heyman or oppose him, which will see you become a marked man for Brock Lesnar.

Since wrestlers are generally very talkative in real shows, the Yuke & Visual Concepts’ studios have added a new interview management system in WWE 2K17. The “Promo Engine,” as it is called, is certainly the main novelty of MyCareer mode (and it is also used in WWE Universe Mode which we will talk more about later). And if it’s a good idea on paper, this system still has a long way to go before becoming a convincing feature. Basically, the interview is all about choosing a sentence between four several choices and try to make coherent sequences that match the needs of different audiences, in order to make them react to the dramatic conversation between you and another wrestler, or even direct monologue speeches to the crowd. Unfortunately, the Promo Engine is not a particularly clear mechanic or even an interesting one. I felt like the character does not necessarily say what we want him to say based on the choices you pick, which on their own don’t give a good indication of how it’s flowing. Not to mention that the dialogues are not particularly well written and does not really match what would the wrestlers actually say in these real show. In any case, the MyCareer mode is still better and richer than last year, but I will still mention that the pace needs to be fixed, as player spends too many hours repeating the same matches, which I wish could be simulated until you get to the interesting ones.

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Jumping on the “WWE Universe” mode, players can as usual create and manage WWE events, Pay Per Views main matches, and establish rosters participating in these shows. You can decide to follow the evolution of rivalries generated by the game, or force the hand of luck by choosing the matches and creating alliances/conflicts between wrestlers. If this mode already provided so many options to players, WWE 2K17 crossed a milestone this year, with every almost can be changed, from loading screen, generic filter on the image, ring banners, entrance. The general feel of WWE Universe events is more authentic than before, thanks to changes in their presentation and their progress (staging, introduction, comments, etc).

After being happy to discover that 2 main modes are more and less upgraded version of last year’s, I sadly discover that the 2K Showcase mode is nowhere to be found. Instead the developers created a virtual currency system know as VC (the same as NBA 2K17 and the previous games). Each design and customization element in the game is now sadly associated by a VC coin amount needed for you to pay. Now while these coins are gained by completing matches (and other things like finishing challenges), they will be needed throughout the game to to customize and improve your MyCareer wrestler, and not just for clothe, but also enhance its stats and abilities. For players who want to dive quickly into the WWE Universe mode and customize it, the temptation to go through microtransactions is now stronger to fight than in previous years.

Speaking of customization, you should know that this year’s creation tools have been upgrade player. While the usual wrestler wrestlers creation tool is logically back, they have added extra layers such as in the use of custom logos for example, and a way better self picture scanner (instead of using the Kinect which was horrendous). The latter is now done after uploading a JPEG or PNG image of you via a dedicated website, which can then be applied and morphed into your character’s 3D model. The arena’s creation tool is also more comprehensive and flexible than before. Players wishing to reproduce iconic arenas or have bigger ideas in mind here are much more likely to achieve what they want to build, including the creation of in-game video clips (to create a video intro of your own wrestler for example which used to be there couple of previous episodes ago).

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Now let’s talk about the most important thing in all these games: The gameplay. Well this year, gameplay is one of the biggest positive highlights of the title. The developers have taken the basics of previous titles while improving the pace of the fight, and which fixed so many issues, like 4-man fights. WWE 2K17 also marks the return of fighting in crowds as well as backstage clash, with interactive areas with several NPCs. Finally another thoughtful addition, is the ability to continue the fight, even after winning, and teach your opponent a lesson, continuing to beat him up. All these fun addition are good, but I have a problem about the gameplay’s general realization.

You see, WWE 2K17 is still powered by the same engine that its predecessor used since almost 2007, which despite its upgrades through the years still has simple limitation. To start, don’t expect major visual changes from last year, but there’s slight general visual rendering of the game, especially with the wrestler’s faces, reworked to look a bit closer to their real-life counterparts but like with NBA 2K17 and FIFA 17, there’s inequalities between the huge stars and the lesser or even Divas. But at least the public is visually more responsive and composed of more varied audience sprites. In addition, the developers have continued to add new animations (contextual, transitions, etc.) which give a more realistic and fluid combat. Unfortunately the game still suffers from the same technical problems: framerate drops, screen tearing, and banana collision bugs. Like previous games in the series, it happens that absolutely absurd bugs just take over complete matches (deformation of a wrestler, merges with elements or other wrestlers), and they can sometime force you to restart a game, which is not fun considering how long loading screens are (especially in My Career).

WWE 2K17 was reviewed using an Xbox One copy of the game provided by 2K Games. The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published

What we liked

• A totally adaptable to individual preferences gameplay.
• A great roster in comparison to last year
• Better modeled faces.
• Universe Mode is realistic and customizable.
• Good improvements to the way games are run
• The backstage and audience fights
• So many more animations added from last year
• The enhanced creation features for rings, events and superstar
• Improvements level of public appearance.
• A fuller career mode (yet still too repetitive)
• The Promo is a good idea (even if badly implemented)

What is not fun

• Not a fan of the minimalist menu layout
• Showcase mode has disappeared.
• It's time for a new game engine
• long and frequent loading times.
• Still some incredible bugs and weird collisions.
• Some characters are better modeled than others.
• What happened to the commentary this year?
• That's the choice of a Puff Daddy curated soundtrack?

Editor Rating
 
Concept
7.9

 
Graphics
8.8

 
Sound
7.1

 
Playability
7.3

 
Entertainment
7.6

 
Replay Value
7.2

Final Score
7.7


Our final verdict
 

In the end, like with all the previous episodes, WWE 2K17 undeniably offers you a great time, and could almost become a must-have for wrestling fans. I value how developers this year sought to give full power to the players in order to bring more variety in the game, but the game still lingers in pre-THQ era engine, which will prevent the license to truly express its full potential.

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