'WWE 12' Review

'WWE 12' Review

On Sunday night, for the first time in seven years, The Rock returned to action in the WWE, teaming with John Cena to win the main event at Survivor Series. And for the first time in several years, I am playing a wrestling video game as a fan who’s currently following the product. I’ve been a fan of wrestling my entire life, but I watch wrestling in cycles. I haven’t followed WWE seriously since 2002, but that all changed when my 9-year-old son started watching back in January. As a result, I got hooked, again, and was highly-anticipating THQ’s yearly wrestling title. WWE 12, with its new slimmed down name (previously Smackdown vs. Raw), does not disappoint with its depth, detail and customization options.

WWE 12 changed its combat system with what THQ is calling “Predator Technology.” This allows more fluid movements by the wrestlers as they transition from a grapple state to the actual move itself. Positioning wrestlers to execute different moves, throwing them into the ropes or working a body part is a smooth transition with this new combat system. Instead of using the right analog stick to initiate a grapple, this year you will use the A (X on the PS3) button. Once you are in the grapple, you will have several options. You execute a move by pressing A while holding the right stick up/down/left/right, you can use the “Breaking Point” submission moves by holding the A button, or you can choose to work a body part by holding the right bumper and pressing Y (for the head), X/B (for the arms) or A (for the legs).

The “Limb Targeting System” is my favorite part of the new controls. This allows you to pick an area of your opponent’s body and weaken it. If you’re playing against one of the smaller, faster superstars (like Rey Mysterio), you can work his leg in an attempt to slow him down. If you are using someone like Alberto Del Rio, whose finishing move is the cross armbreaker, you’ll want to work the arm during the match, so that when you apply your finisher, your opponent will tap out quicker. The “Limb Targeting System” adds another level of realism to the match.

“Breaking Point” submission moves can be applied anytime during the match by holding the A button. But you need to be careful with how often you use it. If you try to use it early in the match, when your opponent is still close to full strength, the submission move will be easily reversed, thus swinging momentum to your opponent. Reversals happen quite frequently when you’re playing against the AI, especially on the harder levels, and it can become quite annoying. But you do have the option to adjust the reversal sliders in the options menu.

Another change to WWE 12 is the revamped “Road to WrestleMania” mode. In previous years, RTWM would have five different stories for five superstars. You would play each one separately and the story would culminate at WrestleMania. Now there are just three stories, but they must be played in order because the stories are connected. You’ll start off as the Celtic Warrior, Sheamus (the villain story), then you’ll be Triple H (the outsider story), finishing off with the fictional Jacob Cass (the hero story), a rookie wrestler that you will customize.

RTWM took me about 12 hours to play through, so it has some good length to it. But it also has its flaws. Too many matches end with cutscenes for the sake of fitting into the storyline. For example, I was fighting in an elimination chamber match and my first opponent was John Cena. I was handling him pretty well, and wanted to go for the quick pin and eliminate him. But since the story dictates that John Cena lasts until the end, I’m not allowed to pin him until I eliminated the other superstars. Even then it wasn’t an actual pin executed by me. Once you weaken your opponent enough, a Y button icon will appear over his head. Once you press Y, it will activate the cutscene that ends the match. This doesn’t happen in all the matches, but I feel it happens in too many of them. There’s also too many handicap situations for my liking. But overall, RTWM is a solid game mode.

WWE Universe 2.0 video

WWE Universe 2.0 is the career mode in WWE 12 and the amount of customization options makes this my favorite mode in the game. In WWE Universe 2.0 you have a monthly calendar with all the shows on it: Raw, Superstars, SmackDown and the monthly pay-per-view. You can keep the normal schedule or you can customize it to your liking. You can replace Raw with WCW Monday Nitro (logos, arena and all) or SmackDown with an ECW show. You can replace all the current superstars with created wrestlers and make your own shows.

The brand new “Create-an-Arena” feature allows you to make your own arena with several options: mat, apron announcer table, electronic billboard. WWE 12 also provides you with tons of logos to use, including all the WrestleMania logos (1 through 28) and logos for old wrestling promotions like the AWA. All your creations can be imported and used in WWE Universe 2.0. You also have the option to change the matches in your Universe, from the participants to the type of match. As an older wrestling fan, I like the ability to have the legends roster as part of the WWE Universe. Legends like Arn Anderson and the Road Warriors can be placed into your WWE Universe. There are also several championship belts, current and classic, that can be assigned to any wrestler or show. The amount of control you have in WWE Universe 2.0 makes this my favorite mode in WWE 12. I would love to see this mode put online, similar to NCAA Football’s Online Dynasty.

WWE 12 is one of the best wrestling video games I have ever played. It has a deep roster, great customization options, and WWE Universe 2.0 will keep me coming back. Good thing my son got me back into wrestling so I can fully enjoy what WWE 12 has to offer.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Click on the link below to hear my interview with WWE 12 game designer Bryan Williams.

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