As we approach the holiday season, it is time for the annual WWE game release. Usually these games consist of a slightly updated roster and attires, with updated graphics and entrances, and no real gameplay changes. This year however, the team has decided to make the game more realistic to the TV Shows, including a range of new camera angles true to those on the shows, the new “Predator” gameplay mechanic, more fluid animations and updated Universe and Road To Wrestlemania game modes.
The first noticeable change is the name itself, gone are the Smackdown Vs Raw titles, to keep in touch once again with the TV Shows, as the Smackdown Vs Raw storylines have been absent now for a number of years. With this new name, the developers took the opportunity to re invent the series, and they have done a fine job.
The camera angles have always been important in the real TV Shows, and it is clear that the hours spent studying real WWE camera angles have been used transfer them to a game form superbly, without reducing your visibility. They help the game remain true to the broadcasting, and makes WWE 12 appear much more official. The camera cuts on the big moves, ones such as Orton’s patented punt kick are almost mirrored perfectly, even down to minor details such as the blue and yellow lighting whenever Sin Cara is in a match.
The new Predator mechanic reinforces WWE 12’s true to life approach. Week after week on Smackdown, we see Randy Orton stalk his prey, pumping his fists on the mat, in preparation for his finisher, the RKO, and it has become a staple of the broadcast shows. It would only be fair if we could do the same, right? Well now you can. When a superstars momentum bar is full, they can utilise a signature taunt, such as Sheamus beating his chest, which triggers your opponent climbing to their feet, and groggily, yet coincidently, putting themselves into a position where you can hit your finisher. This makes the gameplay a lot smoother to what it has been in previous incarnations, gone are the times where you have to manually pick your opponent up off the mat, just to drive them back down again.
Similar to this is the new “Comeback” ability; 9 superstars can initiate a quick time event, when they are losing a match. This will hit their opponents with a string of 3 moves leaving them standing triumphantly with a signature ready to use, if they hit their signature they then of course have a finisher, which usually spells game over. For example, if John Cena is being beaten in a match by Alberto Del Rio, a tap of the Y button will make him jump back to his feet ready to unleash his vengeance. Cena’s QTE consists of two running shoulder blocks, followed by a back drop bottom, leaving him standing at the head of Del Rio, ready to use one of his signature moves the “Five Knuckle Shuffle”, following this Cena can use his wake up taunt to bring Del Rio to his feet, before hitting him with the Attitude Adjustment to get the win. This is what we see Cena do every time he is in the ring in real life and the new animation system means this chain of attacks link together seamlessly, which feels great and leaves you beaming with satisfaction.
However, you never feel like your opponent is truly down for the count. Unlike Smackdown VS Raw, a few big moves won’t leave the match totally one-sided. A nice touch that comes into play when you try to get the achievement, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, for which you have to pin or submit Undertaker at Wrestlemania on Legend difficulty. Using Randy Orton, I was able to put up a good fight before being dominated, luckily the comeback mechanic came into play, allowing me to turn the match around with two clotheslines and a powerslam before my signature followed by an RKO. This would usually spell Game Over for Undertaker, or any other opponent for that matter, but in this instance I found my pin attempt broken at 2; it took 3 RKO’s and a cheeky chair shot when the referee wasn’t looking to put the big man down for the 3 count and I took a beating doing it.
For all of these positive points it is by no means a perfect game, as an example some of the pre and post match animations in the WWE Universe mode aren’t consistent with what has happened just before it. For example, your entrance attire could consist of your ring attire plus a coat and a hat. When you see your wrestler walking to the ring, he will be wearing the correct attire, it will then fade to black-to start an animation-in which you might be attacked on the entrance ramp. Except the issue is now your coat and hat will be gone and you will magically be wearing your ring attire which ruins the illusion slightly.
The control scheme has seen an overhaul since the last release as well and it’s drastically different leaving players stranded but is thankfully soon overcome and feels totally natural. However I can see it receiving some heavy criticism in the first couple of months of its retail release due to these new controls.
It also suffers from the age-old problem of WWE games, it is hideously out of date right from the get go. It features superstars no longer in WWE, title holders listed are hugely wrong, (Ezekiel Jackson is still Intercontinental champion, for starters), some entrance music is wrong or has been changed multiple times a while before the release of the game. This is all a massive shame, as WWE 12 was hyped up to be the most up to date of all the recent WWE games.
At the end of the day, the negatives are far outweighed by the positives. Although far from perfect WWE 12 is a huge leap in the right direction and if the levels of improvement is anywhere near this next year, fans of the series are in for something VERY special. This being the case I’m happy to give WWE 12 a 4.25 out 5 stars.