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    Thursday, November 10, 2016

    WWE 2K17: The Official Smark Henry Review

    WWE 2K17 finally came out after weeks of hype (and an associated Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg match set for Survivor Series. Thanks 2K!). And after weeks of going through the gameplay (which is quite necessary given the scope of the title), how does this year's installment stack up as compared to the previous year? Is it a game worthy of being in the library of a wrestling and gaming fan? And is it worth spending nearly three thousand pesos for?

    The Pros

    Improved graphics, enhanced gameplay and new inclusions (at the expense of 2K Showcase Mode)

    For fans who might be worried that the gameplay would change for the worse, don't you worry because the much-heralded style from 2K16 was not only retained, it also improved in so many ways. While 2K Showcase Mode was not included in this year's edition given the nature of the featured stars like Brock Lesnar and Goldberg, much of the efforts this year were focused on improving various aspects of the game. In a manner of speaking, one door closes, another one opens. And while losing 2K Showcase seems to be a bad thing on paper for fans who love their history, it was for the best.

    From the refined wrestling mechanics, expanded counter system, and enhanced ladder match mechanics to the return of backstage brawls, the game became even more fun and competitive to go through, be it against a CPU-controlled opponent or a playing against up to five other players locally or online. It is so good, one can actually come up with legit competitive tournaments using the game because of the strategy involved and how one has to think twice before executing certain moves that would put them at a disadvantage.

    And let's not forget about the graphical improvements this year, particularly when it comes to gameplay visuals and wrestler entrances, compounding the excellent experience that WWE fans deserve to experience.

    The roster

    While the brand extension is not in effect due to the nature of game development, you'll be happy to know that 2K17 has the most impressive roster in a long time. With the inclusion of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura (albeit via DLC from the NXT Edition of the game) and many favorites making their return, there's just so many wrestlers to choose from. And after the barebones women's roster from last year, they finally made it up to fans by adding more women to the roster, including the Four Horsewomen of NXT and the Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka. Now you can recreate the recent Hell in a Cell Match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte and have a damn good time with it.

    And with the promise of other stars and legends coming soon, such as The Club and Tye Dillinger, one can come back for more and expand their 2K17 experience.

    Creativity runs wild

    One of the significant features in every yearly WWE 2K game is the ability to let your creativity run as wild as possible, and this year is no different.

    While you have your usual staples like creating a wrestler, a title, an event, and more, you can now also create your own entrance videos and victory poses after a match, allowing for a more personalized experience for your own created wrestlers. This is good news for those who are very much invested in their own created wrestlers and love to create wrestlers from other promotions. And if you are in the mood to look online to download creations from other users (*cough cough*Universal Title*cough cough*), you can easily download community creations to make the most out of your 2K experience.

    Easier means to earn currency

    One of the biggest problems from last year's game was upgrading your character stats and skills via in-game currency called "VC," which takes a lot of time to earn if you are going through MyCareer mode. And time is not exactly something many people can afford to waste.

    With that being said, now you can also earn VC by playing exhibition games on your own time, making it easier for your created character to grind through MyCareer. Granted, you can use VC to buy other wrestlers and unlockables as well, but it's good to know you have an option B to consider.

    Promos, promos, promos

    Whether you are going for MyCareer, Universe Mode, or both, one very significant addition this year that is sure to light up wrestling fans is the inclusion of a new promo engine, which allows you to cut promos on the crowd or towards a rival, serving as a mini-game of sorts that would lead to accumulating more VC and affect your popularity.

    While this new inclusion seems to be minor on paper, the fact that they have finally put emphasis on promos after so many years is definitely the start of something they can work with moving forward.

    The Cons

    MyCareer Still Sucks

    There is a good reason why this review needed some time, and that is because we wanted to see if their MyCareer mode has improved for the better after last year's draggy edition. Sadly, after much time, the problems that plagued last year's mode is still prevalent.

    You are still put in random matches that have no bearing towards the title you are going after, and it takes such a long time before you can get into matches that affect your ranking, effectively wasting time in the process. Think of it this way: MyCareer is like RAW right now, going through the motions and wasting your time mindlessly in uninspired and unrelated shenanigans when it could have been like SmackDown Live, a show that has a focus on what people are fighting for, and focusing on that objective without all the jibber jabber.

    And when you consider that there are so many games right now in the market, as well as upcoming titles like Final Fantasy XV and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the last thing you need is to waste the time of fans who want to go through Point A to Point B without the unecessary randomness. This certainly is not the case of delayed gratification, if one intends to call it as such.

    Questionable DLC package

    Okay, we get it. DLC can be necessary for varying reasons, from marketing reasons to allowing developers to continue earning money post-release, which means jobs are retained for the most part. Unfortunately, not everyone is a saint when it comes to providing respectable DLC packages (Capcom's Asura's Wrath true ending DLC comes to mind).

    Being said, one can argue that 2K went a step too far this year when it comes to DLC. Making Shinsuke Nakamura, the prime player of NXT, not just DLC, but delayed DLC for those who were unable to secure the limited copy of the NXT Edition of WWE 2K17 is just a step too far. Worse, there is no foreseeable announcement on the availability of the NXT Enhancement Pack DLC (which includes Apollo Crews and Nia Jax) anytime soon for PS4 and Xbox One owners.

    Meanwhile, previous generation owners can immediately purchase said DLC immediately as of the game's release date, which is strikingly odd. Maybe they wanted to make it worth it for fans to get the NXT Edition, but it's cruel and unusual punishment for those who bought the current generation console version of the game and still have to wait for weeks until it is made available. Whatever business decision it was to do this, one thing is for sure: for current generation owners, it is definitely questionable.

    And while we're at it, let's not forget that the previously pre-order exclusive Goldberg DLC is now available for $5 after weeks of having promoted it as only available via pre-order. Gaming business practices, ladies and gentlemen.

    Bugs here and there

    Not all games are perfect, that much is for sure (case in point: Bethesda titles). But after so long, 2K's entries are still plagued by random bugs here and there, which someimes involve sudden object movements and other physics bugs. At one point, there was even an issue on deleted saves, which happened to us at some point. Recently, there was a patch that addressed most of these, showing diligence on 2K's part, but of course, they could have remedied this sooner rather than allowing this to happen on release date once again.

    Final Thoughts:

    Despite the issues indicated, there is no denying the fact that the gameplay will always be the crowning jewel of the WWE 2K series, with a notable jump in gameplay and visual qualities this year. While they lost 2K Showcase this year, they were able to diversify the experience even more with the ability to fight backstage, gameplay refinements, and the new promo engine, expanding the core wrestling experience even further. WWE 2K17 is a welcome addition to any wrestling fan, hardcore or casual, and should be set as the new standard in wrestling games, a foundation for future wrestling games to follow.

    WWE 2K17 is now available locally through your favorite video game retail outlets, and through respective online markets such as the PlayStation Network. Season pass sold separately.


    Lance Tan Ong has been a banking guy for the past few years but a wrestling guy for most of his life. And after checking out matches of Mitsuharu Misawa and Shinya Hashimoto at an early age, he's also pretty much a puro guy as well. Currently checking out WWE (mostly NXT), NJPW, DDT, and other promotions that catch and demand attention. He currently handles NJPW news and coverage for Smark Henry.

    Images from 2K Games
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    Item Reviewed: WWE 2K17: The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lance Tan Ong
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