Developer: Yuke’s Media Creations
Dropping the Smackdown vs Raw series, THQ is revamping the sports entertainment series with WWE ’12. With new Predator Technology running in the engine, WWE ’12 promises smoother animations and a better overall experience. So will the first installment of the new franchise raise it’s hand in victory, or will it be staring at the arena lights from the mat in defeat? Coming down the aisle, from Parts Unknown, the WWE ’12 review.
Starting all over with WWE ’12 breathes new life and high promise for the franchise. The Predator Technology in the game makes the overall presentation look even better than before. Superstars and Divas look eerily like their counterparts in a vast majority of cases. The canvas of the ring is a lot more detailed than in previous installments, set pieces from Monday Night Raw, Friday Night Smackdown and the WWE Pay Per View events have been captured to relive past moments, or to create your own.
The presentation of this game is stellar. Watching the opening pyrotechnics to the shows, with it’s set pieces, look like an actual WWE production, until you see the crowd. Notwithstanding, entrance music sounds as if it’s being played in an arena full of WWE fans. When in a match Jerry “The King” Lawler and Michael Cole offer commentary and banter during the match, that gives different perspectives depending on who is being used. The superstars’ entrance mimic the actual mannerisms a fan would see on television.
With the new franchise name, and new engine, WWE ’12 has changed the control scheme. Grappling has moved from the right analog stick to the face buttons. With the exception of moving and taunts, the entire control scheme has been changed, yet is still simple to understand once the player gets used to the controls, which should take no more than a few matches. There is an in game tutorial that can be read with some information on how to use the new controls, and the rest lies in the games manual. There is no beginning tutorial level which could have helped considering the fact that it is a new scheme, but at the same time WWE ’12 is trying new things for better or worse.
Both newcomers and veteran players of the franchise will lose the feeling of being overwhelmed once they get the handle of the new control setup. While button mashing does tend to become second nature, the game does reward the player for picking their spots. Such is the case in the Limb Targeting system. Rather than having preset moves for attacking certain points of the body, Limb Targeting allows the player to choose from chain grappling to attacking specific areas of the body, such as the head, arms and legs. While most chain grappling affects the body and head, Limb Targeting helps set up a submission for the player. Also, clumsy animations of the past are now gone. For example, if one superstar is setting up another for a suplex, another can come in and interfere and break up the move. There are a few minor issues that pop up, but the new animation system works very well.
99% is good enough… Just not good enough to beat me
Also, revamped in the franchise is the Road to Wrestlemania feature. Instead of having a group of Superstars wrestle for three months to Wrestlemania, Road to Wrestlemania is now an 18 month story arc that follows three Superstars. Sheamus plays the first chapter as the villain. Triple H plays the second chapter as the outsider. Finally, Jacob Cass (your own created superstar) plays the hero portion. Each one runs about 6 months of “WWE Calendar” time which means the four TV shows and a Pay Per View event, as usual. Rather than wandering around aimlessly backstage, matches are set up after a cut scene and are more mission based rather than being based on winning matches. Usually something like “give your finisher to all your opponents” or win the fight by knocking your opponent out backstage is what Road to Wrestlemania mostly consists of; however, there are a fair amount of actual wrestling matches. When a superstar is backstage it’s not for wandering as something is usually set up as soon as they reach the destination.
WWE Universe mode has been given a deeper experience for the player. Along with the standard rivalries and allies relationships, injuries can occur if a Superstar is beaten up enough. Momentum also plays a factor in WWE Universe as winning a string of matches gives a Superstar more momentum going into the next show and increases their attributes. Losing several matches in a row makes it harder for a Superstar to win matches, and losing also decreases their attributes. Customizable story lines and the WWE Draft can throw in a little chaos to the mode, but in a good way. Finally, a total of 23 championships are up for grabs, and each one can be contested at any given time, not just for Pay Per View events anymore.
Creation mode is still a great mode for the player to indulge in. Creating their own superstar, story lines, finishing moves, entrance, and entrance video all returns with the new addition of Create an Arena. With “Create An Arena”, the player can choose from a varied amount of decor such as the ring, barriers, rope color, and post color. There is a ton to work with and still leaves room for improvement for future installments of the franchise.
Can Someone Shut Michael Cole Up?
One of the few places WWE ’12 falters is it’s online mode. Matches tend to suffer from lag and messes with timing issues. During press time of this article the servers actually crashed, and Cory Ledesma, the Creative Director for THQ CORE Fighting Group, has assured the fans via Twitter all online issues will be fixed. THQ and the developers should be better prepared for an instance like this.
With that said the team put in a great effort with over 70 characters, each with their own unique feel, movements and mannerisms plus the upcoming DLC is a daunting task that should not go unappreciated. WWE ’12 may have a new engine, but the game gave players the ability to let their imagination run wild. There is a great deal of content in the game already from creating superstars to making matches and the game delivers a deep, rewarding experience that portrays what the WWE fan would see on television on Monday and Friday nights.
WWE ’12 is a great game that might be the new contender for one of the best wrestling games of all time. The only thing holding it back is the online features, but even with that, there are only a total of three very obtainable online achievements. Playing is a lot of fun for matches, creating your own content, and the revamped Road To Wrestlemania feature will be a hit for those that love the story lines of the WWE or miss to those who just want to “wrestle” matches.
Final Verdict: WWE ’12 gets 9 Anaconda Vices out of 10
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This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of WWE’12 by THQ