Below the belt.
WWE 2K17 on PS4
Wrestling has always seemed like a sport that catered perfectly to gaming as a medium thanks to the bigger than life personalities, over the top stories, and interesting match types that keep the sport fresh. Yet, the WWE series has been very up and down with what they’re able to deliver in terms of actually simulating that experience. One of the best examples of wrestling as a game was all the way back in 2000 with WWF No Mercy. This year, developers Yuke’s and Visual Concepts seek to capture that magic with WWE 2K17, a game that takes one step forward for this franchise and two steps back.
One of the biggest draws to a WWE game is recreating some of your favorite matches throughout this company’s esteemed history, and thankfully the massive roster can allow you to do that. While the two principle modes, Career and Universe, only focus on the current roster, the quick play section allows access to a cast of wrestlers from throughout the ages. From hardcore legends like Mankind to iconic combatants such as Randy Savage and Ric Flair, there is a plethora of wrestlers to choose from and test out.
Most of these wrestlers all play differently and showcase the classic move sets that have made them instantly recognizable to any fan of the sport. Each fighter is rendered with impressive detail as the developers have done a fantastic job capturing the various personalities and movements of this cast. However, all the characters feel incredibly sluggish to use in the ring and their movements feel stiff and unresponsive at times. This becomes especially noticeable when you are trying to throw someone in or out of the ring, as they will sometimes just endlessly run against the ropes without actually going over.
This can really be felt in the “Counter” mechanic which requires you to time pressing down R2 perfectly if you want to reverse your opponent’s attack. Now this wouldn’t be an issue, but the game is too reliant on this system, meaning that around 80% of your ability to even stand up and fight back comes from being able to counter. However, this can be adjusted through the various Game Options if you are finding it too hard or easy, but the system itself feels incredibly unresponsive at times. It always feels like a delay between when you hit the actual button and when the game recognizes it, which can lead to some frustrating moments.
In fact, the game itself is full of various bugs and glitches, with matches suffering from some pretty horrendous screen tearing when the matches get especially chaotic. While I never experienced any hard crashes in my playtime, there were a number of issues such as character costumes not fully rendering, announcers endlessly repeating the same commentary line, or clipping against the ring that popped up. A recent patch has cleared some of these problems up, but WWE 2K17 could have used a few months of polish before its release.
However, the actual wrestling itself is responsive and can be quite fun at times when the matches get intense. While it’s still baffling that we are unable to get more than six combatants into a ring at once (which is incredibly disappointing for the Royal Rumble fan in me), the general matches are rather enjoyable. WWE 2K17 also offers an impressive number of modes that can be played both on and offline, all of which culminates into the MyCareer and Universe modes.
Though before you can even begin a career, you will either need to download a custom wrestler or make one yourself, which you can easily dump a significant amount of time into. The character creator is perhaps the best part of WWE 2K17 since your own creativity is the only real restriction. Virtually every aspect of your character can be adjusted, which can lead to some truly interesting versions of famous characters like Bane, Deadpool, or Darth Vader. Uploading and downloading other people’s wrestlers is straightforward and simple, which adds a bit more longevity into this title.