Ah, WWE 2K17 – the latest in a saga of games released on PC as terribly ported afterthought, whose only purpose is to eek a few extra quid out of existing products.
Why PC games aren’t designed concurrently with their console counterparts, I do not know. Perhaps it’s an intentional discouragement of the increasing popularity of the PC as a platform, perhaps it’s just incompetence. Either way, there’s not a lot we can do about it.
So, let’s make the best of it and review the game that we’ve got before us.
I must say, as a wrestling game, WWE 2K17 is really rather good.
2K16 put an emphasis on making matches look and feel like their television equivalent, including long rest holds and chain grappling. While it certainly felt more like the TV show, it wasn’t especially entertaining (also kinda like the TV show – ZING).
So, mercifully, 2K17 has refined a lot of that stuff to strike a better balance between realism and fun gameplay. Characters still get worn out and flop about on the floor a bit, but now they get up at a reasonable pace. In 2K16, you could take a spear from Roman Reigns, get knocked to the floor, go and make yourself a cup of tea, come back, and still be lying on the floor.
Universe mode has also been refined for this year’s release, with the entire mode presented like a TV show and it’s actually really cool. I’m sure being forced to watch the Raw intro again and again will become tedious at some point, but for now I am very much enjoying the novelty.
There’s enough storyline components and varying… variables that evolve in Universe mode to keep it genuinely entertaining. One of my biggest gripes with 2K16 was how predictable the auto-generated matches were, but now there does seem to be some logic and flow to proceedings. Rivalries and alliances have varying lifetimes, and will naturally end or transform before they feel restrictive.
No more 15+ weeks of Jads vs Hideo Itami on Superstars for this guy.
Universe mode takes the best parts of general manager mode, MyCareer, and story mode, and packages them into a customisable and engaging world which as a player you can actually get invested in.
Further additions to this game include backstage brawls, and the ability to move in-match between areas of the arena. The novelty for this has already worn off, but it’s cool none the less.
In fact the best thing about new in-game locations is how character models look under different lighting conditions. Sadly, the glaring surrounding arena lights beaming down on the centre of the ring don’t really flatter the characters. But being able to see both the built-in Superstars and your custom CAWs rendered with shadows etc. exposes just how detailed they really are.
A few other quick points: Superstars visibly spawn on-stage which is lame, the way in which all characters (both in-built and CAW) are displayed as their character models (as opposed to IRL photos) on match-up screens is very cool and contributes to a more immersive experience, Brock Lesnar just pottering about in front of the main menu is really weird.
Overall, this is a very good wrestling game. I can’t help but feel that we could have gotten here sooner, with both 2K15 and 2K16 seeming like very slow steps towards it. A better balance has been struck between realistic wrestling and enjoyable gameplay, and a truly immersive Universe mode makes it worth it’s price (the basic price, that is – the £65 they’re asking for the complete edition is a joke).
This is a review of the PC version, and while benchmarking and the reinstatement of adjustable crowd densities are welcome, the poor porting cannot go unrecognised. It is a shame that an otherwise perfectly enjoyable wrestling game is marred by a lack of quality control.
I wish the developers weren’t bound by an annual release model, so they could actually have some time to work on some major improvements and inventive additions – but as long as we keep paying (and who are we kidding, we’ll always keep paying) then this is what we’ll have to put up with.