Nostalgia is a word that I can associate with WWE games for very few reasons, the most prominent being the hours spent after so called “bed time” with friends busy mashing buttons to be crowned king of the ring. I have never been a fan of wrestling though and any sense of enjoyment came from playing with friends and the hilarious disbelief that they could actually think wrestling was real and that the “metal chairs” were real and that the acting was real and that “The Undertaker” rising from the dead was real, etc.
I despise wrestling, not only because it is a bunch of grown adults pretending to fight, but because a bunch of grown adults actually enjoy watching grown adults pretend to fight. The play acting is also rather unnecessary and I really don’t care that I can’t see John Cena. Yes, I can see you Mr Cena and, yes, I can also see that you and your “colleagues” (I am still reluctant to refer to wrestling as an “occupation”) have used copious amounts of body enhancing drugs to make yourselves look like overgrown brainless gorillas. Good luck chaps, when your metabolism ceases to exist and when your hearts start to realise that health has nothing to do with lifting heavy things.
Now that my rant is over, please know that this article is completely unbiased and that I will base my review and judgement on the quality of the game and not on my absolute hate for WWE and everything that it stands for. I must also apologise for a lack of knowledge regarding this incredulous craze but, please be warned, I do not care for your misgivings. I started, or rather was convinced, to play WWE (WWF back in the good old days) by some of my less interesting friends when I was younger and I took the most satisfaction in irritating them through my grappling skills rather than the actual gaming itself. Things have vastly changed however and with new technology comes improved gameplay and graphics and it is with these improvements that the WWE 2K series can try to simulate something that isn’t real in the first place. The WWE 2K series is similar to most sports gaming titles being released annually and the sense of familiarity could no doubt put many gamers off, just as it does with titles like FIFA. This fine tuning is something that I enjoy though, especially with sports that are real, and I am not one to complain about incremental refinement over the years.
The first port of call has to be the graphics in WWE 2k17. Many of the more famous wrestlers look as though they are actually on live television rather than in game and this makes for an engaging experience being able to see every ounce of muscle that these wrestlers actually have to lug around on a day to day basis. This is something you’d expect though seeing as though it is a essentially a fighting game and, while there are an impressive array of about 120 wrestlers to choose from, the amount of input required to achieve this seems to be reasonable when taking other titles into account. This is not a gripe, just an observation.
For those of you who are actually imbeciles (and I mean that) and enjoy this charade then you will be most satisfied at the signature moves of the various wrestlers on show and the cut scenes dripping with the attitude and arrogance so renowned in the classic WWE stand offs. This is obviously so in most previous iterations of the series, of which I have mostly observed rather than engaged, but it makes you feel like you are watching the real thing. I was sitting with a couple friends playing WWE 2K17 and I must say it was an averagely fun time, mostly made up of the laughs at the absurdity of it all. I enjoy the various submissions during the fights, which themselves are smooth and reasonably accurate. Engaging in various styles of combat and linking up a host of hits, grapples and signatures can be rather satisfying and the learning curve is somewhat quick to overcome – although I doubt I will be able to take on the true fans.
Taking on the AI opponents is not particularly difficult and, if you can properly preserve your stamina and recover from the bigger hits, you can finish them off without too much hassle. There are frustrating moments when you hand out so much beat down to your opponent but still end up on the losing side. I guess it’s all scripted anyway so this was not a surprise to me even after dominating a fight. The big moves are spectacular to watch and, as mentioned, accompanied by some impressive visuals, but they do not feel like they damage opponents as much as you would expect. WWE 2K17 requires a lot of unlocking through downloadable content and this will no doubt make some fans irate, especially those who are interested in historical famous moments in the WWE franchise and the various sagas that have ensued throughout.
You are able to design your own oaf, or oafette, in Create a Wrestler Mode which I found rather entertaining. There are so many options that you may spend an absurd amount of time designing the perfect wrestler that you think you’re playing the SIMS. Career mode is just that, a career of wrestling – which again doesn’t sound very real – where you learn to act (fight), act (fight), make enemies and alliances, choose a manager and fine tune your abilities and skills. And this is all with your very own oaf or oafette. There are so many different modes and challenges that true followers of the franchise will get hours of gaming. Those who aren’t fans will simply see the different modes as a rehash of what the game is actually about – wrestling. This is not unique to WWE 2k17 though and is seen throughout most sports games, where different modes are created to keep fans engaged but the essence of these modes are much the same in that you always end up wrestling, playing basketball, playing football, and so on and so forth. For fans of the genre it is great news, just as I love the diversity in FIFA titles, but for those who aren’t that obsessed it can become tiresome and contrived.
If you enjoy your wrestling then I’d take a wild guess and say that this is the best title out there for you. I have not changed my opinion on WWE itself but must say that WWE 2K16 was much better than I had originally envisaged and, I confess, my preconceived notions were misplaced. If you have the earlier iterations of the game then perhaps wait for a while until the price drops, or purchase second hand. If not, then this is likely the game for you.
WWE 2k17 Rating: 5/10
Check out the WWE 2k17 website: WWE