In yet another metamorphosis we step through the ropes for "one more match" with THQ's WWE branded goldmine, WWE '12.
Cyclically in state of flux, Yuke's turn to their newly created "Predator Technology" to drive the next evolution of WWE gaming. Christened 'WWE '12,' the latest entry in the long-running series is a rebirth of sorts. Change is good, and as any longtime WWE fan knows, minute-to-minute adaptions are as natural as bodyslams. However, Yuke's new "Predator Tech" doesn't greatly improve on the gameplay that the “analog stick ” direction the series was finally perfecting. Instead Yuke's new direction feels more like a retro-update that resembles the older “Smackdown” games from the PS2 era. While this might please the "old school" fans who are looking for the second coming of 'Here Comes the Pain,' the change alienates those who prefer the analog interaction of the old system. Ah, Yukes, you have more changes than Steve Lombardi had gimmicks.
As crafty as John Cena's Moveset
Learning the new controls is easy to do. If anything, WWE '12 is the most “pick-up-and-play” ready edition of the series to date. Simplified, yet deep enough for the hardcore crowd, Yuke's minimalism approach is effective, so shaking the ring rust won't last long. While some measure of control has been lost, the inclusion of the damage modifier lets you target the four limbs or your opponents head (back your not included.) While not needed to win matches this feature adds an extra layer of strategy for the "mat technicians" who enjoy locking in submissions.
Continuing with the revisions the ability to break up moves (excluding "most" finishers) has been added. This means no more waiting for an animation to get your “cheap shot” in. However, it also means sloppy (and often glitchy) matches when adding multiple opponents and objects. TLC and 'Money in the Bank' ladder matches are now a nightmare. While it is slighty irritating at times, this is the right way to go with the series. Adding to the “what took so long list” is the ability to perform finisher taunts, perform stronger variations of your finisher and most importantly, move bodies around on the ropes. Each addition helps to enrich on the realism (yes, realism) of the sport (yes, sport.)
Even the Bella's could win this one
The difficulty has been marginally enhanced in WWE '12, but it still too easy for long-time aficionados. For a real challenge you will have to head online. The online modes build upon last years outting with a selection of match types with a strong online creation community. Although the severs at the time of this review (over two weeks after the games release) are still shaking off cobwebs and aren't at 100% I'm sure THQ will have this resolved, but as for now, keeping a steady connection online can be frustrating. Indisputably there is some work to be done in this area.
The Road to Boredom
The “career” mode in WWE '12 also takes a detour by removing multiple character paths for one specific road. Now the 'Road to Wrestlemania' is one long journey that spans multiple characters and situations. Focused in groupings you will lead superstars like Triple H and Sheamus through objective based matches. The action is more broken up more than previous editions with an extra focus on performing objectives over winning matches. It's a novel concept, however it never quite works. While we are happy not to be lurking around the dressing room for hours, the divided objectives ruin the flow of the game and worst of all, take the element of control away from the player. This makes it tough to care about the in-ring (or out-of-ring) action when you're not in full control of the outcome. Sure it is fun to watch the story unfold, and yes, it lives up to “Monday Night RAW” standards for the most part, yet every time a story starts to muster up a good flow, it always looses its momentum, usually because of an unnecessary back-stage brawl.
WWE Universe for the Save
Yuke's failures in the 'Road to Wrestlemania' mode puts all the attention on WWE '12 other method of play, the 'WWE Universe.' Thankfully they didn't try to reinvent the wheel, making this experience fundamentally the same. A few upgrades have been made to make the shows flow better with some navigation tweaks, yet it still retains that “use your imagination” concept to tell a never ending saga of wrestling drama. Sure it doesn't always make sense, but the randomness of it all is fun. Beyond knocking heads, a slew of achievements/trophies have been linked to your performance to sweeten the deal.
Inside the Production Truck
The production has been renovated, but not perfected. Commentating still needs to iron out a few of its inconsistencies and the audio still has instants when it is horribly unbalanced. Beyond these forgivable gripes, WWE '12 seems to have more pop. The crowd seems more dynamics and some chatter has been added to the competitors in the ring. While you don't always get the “one liners” in-matches, when it happens, it is cool. The voice acting is a little better, but that comes down to the delivery on tape by the superstar. Funny how they can go in front of a live audience of thousands and be effective, but when it comes down to a microphone in a sound booth they seem to loose their edge. Still it is great to have the talent included, I can imagine Arn Anderson had a blast being part of the WWE games after all this time.
Graphically, WWE '12 is a mixed bag. Again we are dealing with some exceptional in-ring animation infused with clunky backstage segments. It's an odd cryptogram that has been plaguing WWE games since their existence. Yuke's are scholars in capturing human movement, so I'm not sure why this happens. Although all is forgivable because the game performs flawlessly in the ring. Animations are fluid with hundreds of moves to perform, including creating your own creations. The character models follow this trend with some good and bad selections. The WWE Divas haven't been fully perfected yet, while the major superstars look great. Additionally, a new “RAW” styled camera presentation has been added (basically more camera angels) while effective, they can blind the player to the action when coming up close, or when in tag matches. Sometimes you can't see what is happening at all. A little polishing up will go a long way.
Create, Rebuild, Create
All the create modes have been slightly altered making them easier to navigate and adjust. The new feature in WWE '12 along with the long list of customizations is the 'Create an Arena' mode. Here you can conjour up your own ideas for WWE arenas which is broken down to the ring and its surrounding objects. The is in addition to creating a finisher, videos, characters and so on. WWE '12 is as deep as expected, letting your immigination run wild.
The recreated WWE `12 isn`t as revolutinary as THQ would like us to believe. Falling back into an old style of controls, WWE '12 is streamlined and technical, but its baiting "Predator Technology" needs to shake its ring rust. Combined with an overly commanding 'Road to Wrestlemania' re-designed and botched online play, you will be forced into the old standby, "take the good with the bad" stance the WWE games have been delivering over the years. Unsurprising WWE '12 feels the same as all the reboots prior. Let's just hope we don't have to wait another 5 years before things get better.
Similar Games: WWE SVR 2009 (8.0) | WWE SVR 2011 (8.0) | WWE SVR 2010 (8.8)