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Tuesday saw the release of the latest edition of the WWE 2K series with 2K17. How does the game compare to previous incarnations AND the actual product? Read on.

It’s amazing how I always get sucked in to these annual upgrades, with the promise of an updated roster and minor graphical improvements. But it happens every year.

This year, for me, the highlight was the roster addition of my two new favorite tag teams – American Alpha and The Revival – and the current WWE Champion, AJ Styles, not to mention the promise of some exciting additions via future DLC. Yeah, once again, you need to pay extra and wait a few months for the real complete version of the game, but that’s just how the video game industry goes these days.

I did decide to buy the “Digital Deluxe” version of the game available for download on the PlayStation Network, which gives me the game plus the season pass and the unlockables accelerator.

Speaking of the unlockables, which includes all the WWE Legends, championships and titles included in the game, you can snag those now by earning virtual currency during matches instead of through completing tasks in-game. Or, if you buy the accelerator, you can just press a button. Both methods are completely valid, in my opinion.

I am somewhat happy that they did away with the Superstar Showcase, which last year featured moments from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s career, as a lot of the matches they usually choose to have players reenact during the game have been played out numerous times. Focusing on the creation suite, the WWE Universe and MyCareer modes instead makes a lot of sense. There will be some Hall of Fame recreations when the Hall of Fame DLC pack comes out, but the ones announced haven’t been overdone – like the Freebirds vs. Von Erichs and Sting-Flair from the first Clash of the Champions.

I’ve only spent a few hours with the game and haven’t explored every nook and cranny of the game yet, but I certainly have some first impressions:

The Good

Gameplay: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and for the most part, developer Yuke’s and Visual Concepts has left the gameplay alone from the improvements they made to WWE 2K16. The action runs pretty smooth and continues to trend towards recreating an actual match inside a video game. I’ve had some really fun matches over the last couple of days and the potential is there for a lot more.

One of the few real gameplay tweaks comes with ladder matches, which introduces a minigame once you’ve climbed the ladder and you attempt to take the briefcase/title down for the win. Like the submission system introduced last year, it was a bit frustrating at first, but it didn’t take too long for me to get the hang of it.

Graphics: Every year, I see a lot of jokes about how the game looks the same as it did 10 years ago, and I wonder what game these guys are playing. The year-over-year upgrades may be small, but it clearly continues to get better. This year, the introduction of shading under a spotlight makes the improvements pretty clear. The improvements again mean that the wrestlers’ entrances are again a lot of fun. Feel free to spend 10 minutes checking them out, if you want:

The improvements are clear from the title screen, as wrestlers wander around the background, and they look fantastic.

The Annoying

The Commentary: If you’ve watched WWE programming over the years, you know this is true of the actual product, too, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. But the running commentary between lead announcer Michael Cole and color commentators JBL and Jerry “The King” Lawler goes past awful and borders on a crime against humanity. I’m not really a big fan of any sports game commentary, anyway, so I know to just mute the TV and have some other background noise on.

The DLC: The downloadable content has already been announced, to entice people to pick up the game’s season pass. And I did it, because the promise of The Freebirds, the Von Erichs and the Dream Team was too good for this fan of tag team wrestling to pass up, not to mention the inclusion of Sycho Sid and Austin Aries. But, disappointingly, the Season Pass doesn’t seem to include  the NXT Enhancement Pack, which is supposed to include current NXT champion Shinsuke Nakamura. Why? I’m guessing because WWE and 2K Games wants to make even more money, but the added penny pinching is very obnoxious.

Overall, I’m having a lot of fun with the game so far, and there’s still a lot I need to do – like play around with the creation suite and MyCareer Mode. I’m looking forward to spending some more time with this… at least until Civilization VI and Final Fantasy XV come out…

If you’re a fan of the games and you want to see how the game has improved, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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