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Just over three years ago the WWE games franchise was sold to 2K Games after THQ went bankrupt, and since then it’s been a slow process of 2K shedding the skin that was THQ. WWE 2K15 was the first WWE game on current gen consoles, and was met with a mix between average and negative reviews. Last years entry (WWE 2K16) was a step in the right direction after the failure of WWE 2K15, but it was still missing the components necessary to make the perfect wrestling game. I’m happy to say that not only is this better than WWE 2K16, it’s the best wrestling game in many years.
Being a huge fan of Here Comes The Pain, I have waited over 13 years to get free roaming in Falls Count Anywhere matches, and not only are they back, they are even better. WWE 2K17’s free roaming combines Smackdown Vs. Raw 2007’s crowd fighting along with Here Comes The Pain’s backstage free roaming to make the ultimate Falls Count Anywhere match. Going in and out of backstage areas is done by a simple click of a button or if you’re the aggressive type you can drag them in and out of there.
Once you get backstage, you will notice there are multiple areas you can fight in. These areas include the gorilla position, the hallway, the locker room, The Authority’s office, and the interview area. All areas are pre-loaded and can be entered without a single loading screen, and thanks to the new automatic split screen, there will also be no limits on how far apart you can be from your opponent. With all these features you will not have to worry about any breaks in action whilst fighting backstage.
Now while I really liked backstage fighting in WWE 2K17, and wondered why the hell it took so long to get it back in there are some minor complaints that I wanted to make. Now the first complaint is more of a personal preference, but I really feel there should be a parking lot area in backstage fighting. Parking lots have always been in backstage modes whenever it was featured in a WWE game so it’s a shame there wasn’t a parking lot area. The second complaint which will be echoed by many other WWE games fans is that you can only fight backstage with two people. You can’t crowd fight or go backstage in Triple Threat or Fatal Four Way matches which was disappointing, but understanding due to the new features added like split screen which would have been harder for 3/4 person matches.
Whilst on the subject of match types, there has been some improvements to classics matches such as the ladder match. The ladder match now has a new mini game that’s much more complex, and while not realistic at all (unless it’s Jack Swagger at Wrestlemania 26) it does make ladder matches longer and much more tense. The new mini game is simple, there’s a rotating circle with a small gap, and you have to get a smaller circle through that gap. This has to be done eight times to unhook the title/briefcase. Ladders can now only be placed in certain areas of the ring, so now you will always be under the title/briefcase so no longer will you have to set up the ladder to be exactly under the prize.
Gameplay wise you won’t notice too much different if you stick to one on one matches, but if you’re a fan of multi person matches there’s an interesting addition to WWE 2K17’s gameplay. That addition is the roll-out feature, which is something we all see in multi-person matches on WWE TV. One superstar gets taken out by a big move, and it turns into a 1 vs 1 for a little while, and it’s exactly like that in WWE 2K17. It works perfectly as triple threat matches in the past could never really flow because one person would be standing there either doing nothing or breaking up moves constantly.
Now triple threat matches have the flow and the real life presentation that was needed. There’s also the panic of trying to recover from the big move in time to break up the cover which created some epic near win situations. One example I’d like to share is after I took a huge finisher off a ladder I was outside trying to recover, and the other superstar just had to complete the mini game one more time to win but somehow I managed to get back in and keep the match alive. It’s epic moments like this that you will now have in triple threats that you couldn’t have in previous WWE games due to the lack of break in action between the 3 superstars.
WWE Universe mode has always been a fan favorite with WWE games fans, but for some reason the mode was neglected for so many years. I could never really understand why the mode wasn’t worked on much over the last few years with it being such a popular mode. That’s all changed this year with WWE 2K17 as Universe mode has been worked on, and has major changes that have made this mode the best version of WWE Universe to date! Yes, you read that correct, WWE Universe mode in WWE 2K17 is ridiculously good.
Why is WWE Universe Mode so good this year? Could it be the TV style presentation? Could it be the new layout that makes finding everything in the mode that much easier? Could it be that you can now run in/attack before and after matches now in Universe? Well all those additions are great and all, but it’s the promos that really separate this years Universe mode to past years versions of WWE Universe.
Promos are actually quite in depth, with the player being offered 4 different options of dialogue to choose from. The aim of promos is a mix between getting the crowd on your side/against you, beating the other superstar if you are cutting a promo against a rival, or just simply give the superstar some character. To “win” a promo, you have to fill up your crowd reaction meter by choosing the best dialogue options. It’s not that simple though, as you can pick dialogue that doesn’t connect with your good/bad guy persona or make sense at all.
The promo system is a surprisingly great feature in the game. I thought it would become mundane after a few times, but even as a write this review I just want to go and cut another promo because they are so fun to do. Why are they so fun though? I think it’s because they are actually quite complex for a completely new feature. For example the sheer amount of dialogue at the users fingertips, I can say I haven’t come across the same promo yet, and this is after cutting countless of promos. There’s also a wide range of promo types like a call out promo, talking to the fans promo, interrupted promo, attack/staredown during a promo, and tag team break ups.
Now some will complain that the promo system doesn’t have voiceovers, but I totally disagree with people who complain about this. If promos had voiceovers, there just wouldn’t be any depth to them at all and would also be extremely repetitive. With text based promos the developers were free to write as much dialogue as they wanted to give the players more choices and make the quality of the promos much better. I was actually really impressed with some of the promo scripts in the game, and dare I say better than the ones we see on WWE TV? The only real complaint I had with promos is that I feel there needs to be character specific ones for superstars such as Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker for example.
While WWE 2K17’s Universe mode is the best one yet, it still does come with some disappointing issues. For some reason you are now unable to simulate matches on the card until the match before has either been completed or simulated. This means you can’t just simulate all the matches you don’t care about, and play seamlessly through the matches you want to play. I was also getting a lot of the same cutscenes in rivalries, and to make it even worse they are ones that have been in for years. Unfortunately I didn’t come across many new cutscenes, and the only differences I noticed to old ones were that new commentary has been added.
MyCareer is improved but is still kind of a mess unfortunately. I want to mention what the mode does well first though before I get to the issues. It’s much less of a grind compared to last year as VC is much easier to obtain from the new t shirt sales system, promos, and other opportunities to make VC which was not offered last year. NXT can also be totally skipped if you perform good enough in the tutorial were you have to complete tasks at the performance center. Due to my performance I was offered a spot on the main roster, and automatically added to #5 on the US championship rankings. With ranking up and NXT in general being so grindy last year, it’s great to see 2K allow more experienced players to get right into the action.
Now the issues I had with the mode was almost right away as my match after being promoted to the main roster was a random handicap match with my character against Rusev, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose. Yeah it didn’t make sense at all. Rusev the heel teamed with two faces in Cena/Ambrose who I had no rivalry with. Then for some reason I had to compete in Main Event/Superstars matches even though I was a main eventer and usually those matches were complete filler with no reason for the matches to happen.
Commentary in WWE games has somehow gone even worse over the years, and in WWE 2K17, I think it’s reached even lower levels. The lines are repeated over and over, some of them don’t make sense, some have been in WWE games for years rather than replaced with new lines. I’m not sure how it got this bad, but something needs to change next year because the commentary is negatively impacting a really good game.
WWE 2K17 like most WWE games has its fair share of bugs, glitches, and other issues. Most of the bugs I noticed were physics related that have been causing problems for years. Superstars flying in the air, warping into the ropes/objects, and other issues that look like they are not being fixed anytime soon. I noticed also that in WWE Universe mode that if you end a promo with a brawl that the results of the promo are not saved and you have to do the promo over again which needs to be fixed immediately.
As always WWE games has some of the most extensive creative options in gaming today. Create your own superstar, edit the attires of current WWE superstars, arena, moves, logos, championship, shows, and returning for the first time since Here Comes The Pain is create a victory. Yes, gone are the days were you was limited to the same victory scene over and over again for your created superstar. Now you can choose between a list of generic victory scenes or choose one of the many victory scenes of an actual superstar on the roster.
The Final Verdict
WWE 2K17 is one of the better WWE games to come out in quite sometime, possibly the best since the name change from Smackdown Vs. RAW to just WWE/WWE 2K. The changes made to Universe and MyCareer were needed, and are welcomed changes, though both modes still have issues. I can’t explain how happy I am that free roaming/backstage brawling is back in WWE games, and I’ve had a blast brawling all over arenas. There’s still issues like commentary and bugs that really need to be fixed hopefully in the next game. If you are a fan of WWE games then this is your ultimate wrestling sandbox.
+ The promo system is a great addition.
+ Universe Mode improvements.
+ Backstage brawls/free roaming
+ Roll out system
+/- MyCareer is improved but still flawed
– Still filled with bugs
– Commentary is awful
Final Score: 8.5/10