Version played: Xbox 360, Developer: Yuke’s, Players: 1-4, 2-12 (online), Release date: 25/11/2011
This is the fourteenth wrestling game in its combined series (including Smackdown and RAW) and it certainly packs a punch- but it’s only enough to bruise, rather than end in a straight knockout.
THQ have infused their new animation system into the game, entitled, ‘Predator Technology’, which has developed the characters and players on screen behaviour; giving a freer and more realistic feel. At some points the movement feels well oiled, and other times it feels like you’re driving a double Decker bus. For instance, players are now able to interrupt moves and initiate an attack when downed, and specials such as John Cena’s Five Knuckle Shuffle will no longer automatically shift players to the centre of the ring for its execution. However, the short amount of time that the ‘RT’ counter trigger appears makes it frustratingly difficult to interrupt moves, and I think seasoned players will find it easier to adjust than rookies. If you spend all your time on the front font, then the introduction of a new ‘dynamic comeback’ feature will definitely favour you. It allows players to string a combo of attacks together to acquire two finishing moves on their opponent when they are on the brink of losing- acting as a last chance saloon. This seems easier to pull off in comparison to move interruption, but can still take practice to wreak the rewards.
Even with these AI and gameplay changes, it still feels a little stiff and unresponsive, which is a shame. And you can’t help mistake some of the wrestlers for someone who’s had bodge job plastic surgery, in a back alley firm somewhere in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, some of the wrestlers resemble their realist counterparts, but some look like their reflection in dirty bathwater. The environment and atmosphere Yuke’s has created, is however, engaging and well knitted with the story. Alongside the entrance videos, trash talk and crowd reaction, WWE 12 creates a thrilling experience.
Fans will be accustomed to its two major game modes, including ‘WWE Universe’ and the ‘Road to WrestleMania’. The latter consisting of three sections, the hero, the villain and the outsider, which should take around 12 hours to complete. This does offer gamers a meaty experience; however it comes across as frustrating thanks to its interruptive cut scenes which at points remind me of PlayStation one graphics, and a stubborn plot which removes wrestling freedom. Also thrown into the ring, are superstar creation modes where players can decide on gender, facial features and body type, career highlight reels, finishing moves and arena creation. Yukes has created a highly customizable game, but it doesn’t possess the longevity or visual impact it needs to keep player coming back for more.
In late October of this year, THQ announced that the first downloadable content package would allow players to take control of other characters alongside some new wardrobe choices. These include the likes of Shawn Michaels and Michael Cole, and not forgetting the divas with, Trish Stratus and Vickie Guerrero. With more in the pipeline, WWE 12’s depth is increasing to offer players a new angle, but you can’t help think, they might have drained the game of all its offerings by then.
In all, it seems Yuke’s has created something similar to self branded shopping products. You know what you’re getting when you pay for it, but you can’t help wondering it could be a lot better.