Depending on what you’re looking for in a wrestling sim, WWE 2K17 is either as thrilling as a last-count kickout from a pin or as disorienting as getting your face bashed into the turnbuckle. Regardless of whether or not it’s what fans want, 2K Games continues to push for what passes for realism in its attempt to replicate the moves and personality drama that gives the WWE so much TV appeal. If you’re looking for physics-defying leaps or arcade-style tag team antics, you’ll need to dust off a copy of WWE ’12, because things have been headed in a grittier, more grounded direction for years.
Game: WWE 2K17
Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 11
It makes a lot of sense that crossover star Brock Lesnar is on the cover, because the in-ring action resembles the precision of his previous life as a UFC star. The complex web of holds, counters, grapples, secondary submissions and stamina management hews close to what you’ll find in the octagon. While the integrity and balance in the fisticuffs, which makes for convincing slugfests both online and off, you may find yourself longing for less realism and more outrageousness. The game values intensity and precision over taunting and grandstanding, which tends to turn matches into dry, joyless wars of attrition that would make TV viewers doze off.
The excitement factor picks up considerably in career mode, which lets you design a grappler from the ground up, choosing from design features with a dizzying amount of looks and attributes to mix and match. Want an Undertaker clone with the athleticism of John Cena? Done. Looking for a Triple H-style bruiser who celebrates victories with something resembling an Irish jig? You’ve got it. Developers let you craft your own arenas, tournaments, events and dramatic turns, letting you into the thought process of a WWE producer, pulling all the right puppet strings to create a fantastic, never-ending TV show.
The visuals go for more of a stylized, comic book-like exaggeration rather than Madden-level detail. Each of the more than 150 characters — which include not only current wrestlers but an impressive selection of past superstars — look and play just the way you’d envision them. Managing to unlock all those characters is an effort that could take you either weeks of irritating grinding, or convince you to plunk down more money to buy the characters via microtransactions. With 88 characters available the first time you boot up the game, you don’t exactly hurt for options if you decide to ignore the locked characters and stick with what you’ve got.
Nearly every game — especially sports titles — is better if you’re playing with or against friends, but weirdly, the opposite is more and more true with WWE games. Because of the design, you get the most out of what’s available if you are in sole control, with no one else around to muck things up. Online play in these games usually devolves into top players relying on the exploit of the week until they’re snuffed out by whack-a-mole updates. In WWE 2K17, the most fun you’ll have online is uploading your creations and seeing what others have come up with. The current WWE game may not be the one you grew up with, but it’s flexible enough to let you make it into whatever you’d like it to be.
WWE 2K17 Reviews Around The Web:
“A varied and fulfilling selection of pretend-o-fights, bolstered by new features which don’t all work exactly as intended – but show tantalising promise for the future.” –Games Radar
“Allowing players to get straight into the action is a huge step in the right direction.” –Fox Sports
“The key gameplay-related changes not only make for a better overall experience, they fix new and old problems in smart ways.” –IGN
WWE 2K17 Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.
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