Game Rant's Riley Little reviews WWE 12
Every year THQ and Yuke's releases another installment in their annual WWE video game series, but this year's edition has made a tremendous effort to mix up the traditional formula that they felt may have become a little stale. One of the most notable changes is the abandonment of the 'SmackDown! vs. Raw' moniker for something a little more simple — WWE 12.
Now that the game is finally here and in the available to the masses, gamers are surely wondering if WWE 12 is worth their hard-earned cash. Has all of the effort put into revamping an aging formula paid off, or does it just stir up new problems that dampen down the overall experience?
First things first, it must be said that the game mechanics have been completely changed, and anyone who had become accustomed to the older method of controls will have a little bit of a learning curve this time around. Instead of relying on the right stick to grapple, the developers have reverted back to hitting the face buttons on the controller.
This new control scheme resembles the series of games that existed prior to SmackDown! vs. Raw, such as Here Comes the Pain, and this is a great move for old-school players who like mashing buttons rather than sticks. The reversal button has also been dumbed down, and players will just need to hit the right trigger to counter any incoming attacks (be them strikes or grapples). The simplified control layout is smart change-up and fans of the older wrestling games will more than appreciate them.
The new controls then proceed to tie in nicely with the new look of the game. When players enter their first match in WWE 12, they'll be shocked at just how accurate it looks when compared to the actual TV product. Everything from the WWE logo in the corner, to the banners that run across the screen, help to recreate an almost identical atmosphere to that of the program that fans watch on television every week. When the match starts, the camera will also adjust and change angles whenever a big move is executed, and there are even a series of highlights that can be watched after completing a match. The WWE atmosphere is faithfully recreated, almost to the point where it becomes hard to tell whether you're playing the game or watching the longest running weekly episodic show on television.
The atmosphere that is recreated in WWE 12 is convincing, and it should be appreciated, but the graphics will slap players back into reality. That's not to say they're awful but they aren't anything special. The wrestlers, for the most part, maintain their likeness to their real-world counterparts, and that's really all fans want, but their design and appearance really won't knock anyone's socks off. The game's crowd also looks like it's filled with PS1 rejects, so there hasn't been any significant changes since last year's installment.
As a side note: the Booker T model is horrifying - it simply does not look like the five time (five time, five time, five time, five time) WCW Champion. His skin tone is off and his face resembles that of a Muppet more than a WWE superstar.
To compensate for having a couple of hideous character models and lacklustre graphics, Yuke's has provided players with one of the best rosters ever conceived on a single disc. A majority of the current superstars in the WWE are all present and accounted for, and so are several of the WWE divas. Zack Ryder, CM Punk, and Sin Cara are all in attendance, and so are Beth Phoenix, Kelly Kelly, and Maryse — and then there are the Legends. All-time greats like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, and even Brock Lesnar can all be unlocked by going through WWE 12's 'Road to WrestleMania' and 'WWE Universe' modes.
Having the complete roster at a player's disposal for multiplayer matches is an absolute blast, but many will find it a little painful to actually play through one of the modes in particular. 'Road to WrestleMania' was one mode that received a complete overhaul in this this year's instalment, but it wasn't necessarily for the better. Players won't be able to select a superstar and soar through the preset story like previous games, instead they'll be thrown into the Celtic boots of Shamus as a villain, then the role of Triple H - before becoming a created superstar named Jacob Cass.
The stories all tie together, but they seem to forget that (while story is important) fans just want to wrestle. Many of the fights are heavily scripted and require that players beat up other superstars until a glowing button appears above the AI's head to cue a cinematic sequence. All three of the stories are almost identical, and all pertain to taking on an evil organization or leading an organization yourself. If players ever start off a week in their change room, then there is always an angry wrestler looking for a fight on the other side, and this happens far too often at the expense of the overall experience. It also doesn't help that the backstage brawls require the opponents to be finished off "to the right of the vending machine" over and over and over again, making the experience feel far too tedious.
'WWE Universe' mode accomplishes what it sets out to do by allowing consumers to take on the role of General Manager, and sovereign of scheduling. Fans can hop into a match they've created whenever they want to remove themselves from the faux office setting - and, that way, can help receive results they prefer. This mode hasn't been drastically altered, but it has been simplified, and that's not at all a bad thing.
The 'Create-a-Mode' is also back in full swing, allowing anyone to make cutscenes, superstars, ring entrances, and now, for the first time ever, arenas. It's a little bizarre to wage a brutal and bloody war in a florescent yellow arena, but it's a new feature that really does help to immerse gamers in the experience even more then before. There is plenty of little details that can be altered in order to create whatever fits the individual's fancy, and it's easily the most in-depth 'Create-a-Mode' in any version of the game released thus far.
Last, but certainly not least, the multiplayer options. Multiplayer is the biggest selling point for any WWE video game, and WWE 12 is no exception. There are tons of different match types to choose from - such as the elimination chamber, hell in a cell, TLC, etc. The multiplayer can consume hours of play time, but it's not by any means perfect. There are still a lot of hiccups that become apparent after a few matches. Character models will occasionally contort into weird shapes as they preform a move on another player, and superstars will magically teleport from the top of the Hell in a Cell to the ring before being thrown back up top. It's also challenging at certain points to break up pins, and sometimes grapples and strikes don't even register. That said, multiplayer is still a lot of fun to play, but these glitches bog down and kill the mood that WWE 12 works so hard to set.
WWE 12 has many notable flaws and veterans of the series may be a little disappointed by the less-than-stellar package. The game does have one of the best rosters of all time though, and the multiplayer — while extremely glitchy at times — is a lot of fun to play with friends. Fans of the program will enjoy all that WWE 12 has to offer, but this game falls quite short of being the best in the series yet - and that's the bottom line because Game Rant said so.
WWE 12 is available now for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii.
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