WWE 12 ReviewDecember 8, 2011
THQ has been bragging that their newest WWE game, WWE 12, is bigger, badder, and better. Much like The Miz with his awwwwesome-ness and Triple H and his self proclaimed “King Of Kings” status, it seems THQ has grown a bit of an ego while hyping up its latest WWE release. So has the franchise managed to reinvent itself a la CM Punk, or is it content to wallow in mediocrity like Drew McIntyre? Thankfully, the former statement rings true.
Almost everything you knew from previous WWE Smackdown Vs Raw entries has been shaken up and retooled for this new entry. The game’s creators have been flaunting its proprietary Predator Technology, and when you first take the reigns of WWE 12 you will instantly notice a difference. The controls are completely different from WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011‘s right stick grappling mechanics. I will admit to being completely turned around for the first hour or so (I played the hell out of SVR 2011 and platinum’d it), but it wasn’t too long before the new controls started becoming second nature. The physics and animation have been completely overhauled, which helps the gameplay immensely. No longer do you need to wait for an entire animation to stop before applying a countermeasure; this year you can reverse an opponent’s move or just kick them in the junk at any point in a given move. Combined with the game’s redone pacing, the matches feel much more like a live RAW than last year. The matches in WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011 were fun, but they suffered from bad pacing. Animations are quicker this year, and you will rarely see characters warp to the center of the ring for certain moves; they happen where they happen except for one or two moves that the devs might have overlooked given the massive amount of animations in these games.
The overhauled, just-like-on-TV presentation looks amazing with WWE 12’s great graphics. Character models look more faithful to their real life counterparts than last year. Watching muscles move beneath wrestlers’ skin is truly impressive. Skin isn’t waxy looking. Lighting looks better, pyro looks better, and it seems the only thing that hasn’t been upgraded graphically is the hair. THQ’s WWE games are well known for their terrible hair. It might seem like a small detail, but given the Divas on the roster and the sheer amount of wrestlers with long hair, it definitely brings the game’s presentation down a notch. The models, faces, bodies, textures and animation are all awesome, but you can’t help but be taken aback by that Playstation 2-quality hair. The arenas and backstage areas look better than ever, however. You won’t see stark white, pristine backstage areas here. These arenas have a weathered look to them, and the enhanced lighting really gives them a realistic feel. I’m also glad that you aren’t asked to awkwardly run back and forth through a lifeless backstage starting fights for no reason like last year, and thankfully WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011’s doctor has been removed, so no more slowly running around just to manage your Superstar’s attributes.
The Road to Wrestlemania is great this year. No longer will you get to choose who you want to play as; in WWE 12’s story mode the top Superstars have been incorporated into one big storyline, encompassing several years. You’ll play as Sheamus, Triple H, and a player creation, with a few smaller characters thrown in for good measure. It’s a great change, as it makes the storyline a bit more unpredictable, like the real deal. In WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011 you would win every single match, and everyone knows that’s not how it works in pro wrestling. I enjoy that this time around, you’re only beating up someone until a triangle prompt appears above their head, after which a cutscene will unfold, where say for instance someone will come and interrupt your match, get you DQ’d, hit you with a chair, etc. Loading times are also cut down and masked well this year by the great presentation.
The game contains over 60 Superstars and Divas, and that’s not even mentioning the planned DLC. Most of them are so perfectly recreated that during entrances you could squint and swear you’re watching the real deal on USA or SyFy. Just get to work on that hair for next year, THQ! The new rope physics are cool, but they’re a bit distracting. It’s cool to see them bounce around when someoene takes a huge bump in the squared circle, but they fly around almost like silly string more than tense ring ropes.
The creation aspect has become a hallmark of the WWE games, and this year certainly does not disappoint. You can create logos, crowd signs, Superstars, Divas, arenas, entrances, Titantron movies, edit replay videos, and more. There is just so much to do here. THQ has managed to imbue some real replay value into a game genre that usually does not have a whole lot of reason to keep playing after a month or two. It’s also as interesting as ever to upload and download community creations. There is a lot of creativity going on here.
All told, WWE 12 does live up to the hype. There’s a few issues that didn’t get fixed this time around, but if THQ manages to put as much effort into WWE ’13 as it has WWE 12, I know us wrestling fans will be in for a great experience.