The Average Gamer

WWE ’12 Review (360)

So, here we go again. It’s been quite the year for WWE. Having recently toured the UK and Europe to the delight of their fans, and from the fallout of the incredible return of The Rock to the squared circle at last weekend’s Survivor Series pay per view event, WWE ’12 has now landed at our feet.

No longer named with the quite-a-mouthful Smackdown Vs. Raw moniker, WWE ’12 is the best game for WWE fans yet. The series has never been state of the art, but each year there have been notable improvements and this year’s is no exception.

The first noticeable improvement is the speed of the matches. This has been achieved not just by speeding up movement of the superstars, but also the changes made to the controls. THQ have finally reverted back to a single button grapple, not used since SVR 2006. Matches flow so much easier due to this change, allowing momentum to be built or lost, just like their television counterparts.

The two main additions to match gameplay are the Limb-Targeting system and the Comeback system. Although no damage display is present onscreen, a quick press of RB during a grapple gives the option to attack the head, arms or legs with the touch of one of the X, Y, B, A buttons, and also shows the current damage to the opponent’s body. This is great for tactically wearing an opponent down for a quicker victory. The Comeback system springs into life if your superstar/diva has an injured body part and from there a running attack initiates a QTE sequence.

If successful your opponent will be floored. The momentum has swung your way and you have a finisher primed and ready to use. Miss a QTE, and its back to the drawing board. This is another excellent, useful function that adds to an already realistic WWE experience. The only issue with it is it’s yet another QTE system in the game, which requires more luck than skill. The counter system is untouched, so be prepared to learn the timing of all the moves in the game, as otherwise it’s time to throw your pad at the TV, particularly on the harder difficulty levels. On the whole, the action is fast, furious, and fun.

There are minor drawbacks to the altered control system, however. For those who have followed the series closely (like myself), it is not made clear that fundamental control changes have been made; any action performed with ‘A’ is now performed with LB, as ‘A’ is now the grapple button. For me, this led to a very embarrassing loss in a ladder match, as it wasn’t clear how to climb ladders. There are tutorials available, and a list of controls so unfortunately, you will find yourself having to re-acquaint yourself a little. For new gamers to the series, tutorial reading aside, this game is a perfect jumping on point. The controls here are the best system yet and hopefully will stay in next year’s edition, too.

The superstars themselves look more unique, with their own facial expressions (finally) instead of the same generic ones from previous titles. The camera system is much improved also, with angles adopted from WWE TV, to give it that feel of realism. Superstar entrances, ring announcing, and victory segments are also excellent to see and hear, and the entrances are as close to the real thing as I’ve come across in a videogame so far.

In-game however, there are minor issues. Although the crowd area is much more populated than ever before, there is, for example, a blonde haired woman who often appears several times across the crowd. Her clones all move the same way, at exactly the same time. The crowd noise is also suspect – they go deathly quiet at random times and Heels (WWE parlance for bad guy girl in the storyline) quite often get cheers when they should get boos.

The match commentary is fine. It reacts to the action pretty well, however you will easily channel it out or more likely turn it off due to repetition. As importantly as WWE takes commentary, it has been poor for quite a few years now anyway. Yes Michael Cole, I mean you.

Arguably the game’s strongest area is the creation/customisation modes and options. These includes options and items to fully create not only a new superstar/diva, but even past superstars such as Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho, the latter a noticeable absentee for fans this time around. In addition to Create A Wrestler, you can now create arenas with fully customisable ring, floor, announce table – the full works. For those fans that miss WCW, the chance to create their old arena setup will be snapped up.

These created arenas can be used for any matches in the game and in WWE Universe mode, the next area to receive significant positive changes. Universe mode was created for Smackdown vs Raw 2011, and replaced the old general manager mode, controlling Raw and Smackdown rosters, change title holders, and so on. Now you are also given the opportunity and tools to create your own shows with whomever you want, using any arena, to truly become a unique WWE General Manger. If that’s not to your taste, then just pick any superstar/diva, created or otherwise, in any match to compete in or even just simulate them. Universe mode truly is a triumph on all fronts, and is my favourite area of the game.

Another area with massive revamp is Road to Wrestlemania mode. Instead of the usual ‘episode’ choices, with separate superstar stories, it is now all integrated into three episodes: Villain, Hero and Created Superstar, one after the other. Essentially however, it isn’t much different from past Road to Wrestlemania modes. The storylines are ok, but the voice acting is a little weak, almost lethargic. The usual wrestling action is solid and to complete Road to Wrestlemania clocks up a good few hours, with auto save allowing you to come back to the action whenever you want.

The game has tons of collectibles to unlock, most within Road to Wrestlemania mode, including superstar legends such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Edge, and, somewhat bizarrely, Brock Lesnar, who recently signed merchandise rights with WWE again, even though he left the company under a cloud in 2004. It certainly is a very welcome blast from the past. Road to Wrestlemania is also the most challenging single player mode on offer; it has its own self contained options menu, with no modifications allowed, i.e. turning CPU countering/damage down, so be prepared for a long haul. Some may find this frustrating or ultimately boring. I say bring it on, there are achievements and items to unlock here, people!

WWE ’12 is an excellent wrestling game. Of all the WWE games since Smackdown vs. Raw 2007, this is certainly the best so far. WWE ‘12 cleverly and accurately depicts WWE as it is shown on television. A lot of changes have been brought in this time around, mostly for the better, whereas some areas, such as Road to Wrestlemania mode, are now in an infancy stage, due to being rebooted. This is no bad thing. It’s a massive part of a strong single player experience, and has plenty of scope for the future, too. It’s every WWE fans’ dream game, and is a definite must buy. For those fans that are either new to WWE games, or the Smackdown Vs Raw series in particular, this is a great place to start. I believe many of the changes made here will stick for some time, so is a great starting point. Bigger? Certainly. Badder? Getting there. Better? Definitely.

WWE ’12 is out now for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii

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