WWE '12 Review
|REVIEWS - VIDEOGAME REVIEWS|
Can you smell...the problems?...
A new name for THQ’s wrestling franchise brings about very much a new beginning, with a game that has had a host of changes from the penultimate Smackdown vs Raw title of last year. And, although the series had been crying out for some fundamental changes, a lot of improvements could be made on this game.
The basic foundations that one would expect from an Xbox 360 title in 2011 are certainly there; and there's fantastic graphics throughout. The detail of each superstar is perfected from minute facial features to their body shape. Furthermore, this statement holds true when considered against the plethora of arenas available to the users bouquet of bedlam.
The problem, however, comes in the gameplay. As you watch the superstars come out, flowing in all their glory in a pre-recorded entrance sequence, the expectation would be for this to carry on when you actually have control of the superstar. But once you get down to business the superstars seem to become an awkward, bumbling deer trapped in a frustrating army of headlights.
A simple press of the analogue stick - responsible for your wrestlers movement - ends with your chosen fighter slouching their way around the ring, like Frankenstein’s inept brother. The only way to speed things up is with an elaborate sprint, which reveals a host of glitches. If you begin sprinting too close to things, a force field seems to appear in front of them, bouncing back a hapless wrestler to where he started. Each grapple and strike is separated by a string of air punches unless you are positioned perfectly, which can become incredibly tedious.
One great change however is the introduction of an accuracy bar for kicking out of pins. It brings a level of skill to what is considered an art form by wrestlers, as opposed to a few seconds of button bashing which never seemed to work. You can also target certain limbs through grappling, which is a nice way of bringing tactics into the game that were previously absent.
What's the point?
When playing through the range of different match types I realised something...a number of them are totally pointless; the main one being free brawl. The concept of fighting backstage has always been one that has potential to be great fun, but this is by no means a ‘free’ brawl. All you do is whip your opponent into things and watch a pre-recorded clip of your opponent colliding with the item. The size of the area is also tiny (especially when you consider some of the backstage areas in past games). Other game modes include a standard wrestling match, but surrounded by flames, and I found myself asking: why? What is the point?
Let's get creative
By this point (as you have probably gathered) my interest in this game was wearing thing; that is, until I ventured into WWE's creative aspects. Creating a superstar is always very detailed and brings literally endless possibilities to the game. You can create almost any type of wrestler you want: man, woman, smurf, the incredible hulk, anyone. Then you can create a move set, which covers every detail of the wrestler from how they enter the ring to how they will finish the match off.
For those feeling extra creative, you can now create your own arena, and storylines, meaning the game can be as personal to you as you want it to be. To do all these things though, requires a lot of perseverance (when you catch yourself mulling over what colour turnbuckles to have it’s probably time to stop being so pedantic).
WWE '12 also boasts some solid changes to story modes. There are now three different stories to play through, starting with everyone’s favourite (well, mine) wrestler, Sheamus. To be quite honest I had to question the idea of Sheamus becoming part of the ‘United Kingdom’ faction, as he does in the story line - he is supposed to be the Celtic Warrior, after all - but as I said before, I should probably stop being so pedantic, so we’ll move on.
Story modes involving a 'hero' - and Hall of Famer Triple H - await those who grow tired of Sheamus' confused background. Then, with a created wrestler, you can take on the ‘outsider’ storyline. It's a great change from the previous story modes, which basically entailed one rather basic storyline with a far shorter shelf life.
The storylines have been tailored to resemble the WWE experience as it really is, with matches broken up by interruptions and disqualifications. Although this adds a level of authenticity to the game, it can be a let down when the game requires a certain thing to happen to carry on the story accurately. This can lead to things like pin falls being unwittingly turned off, as you are not supposed to be the one that gets the pin. This is one of another host of unwelcome flaws and glitches.
Overall, the barrage of changes to the title will please many, but for me the game was a let down. Too many glitches, which are impossible to ignore, seem to hamper every part of the game that you don’t create yourself. This includes the core gameplay and the Road to Wrestlemania stories, which are essentially the most important parts of the game.
It is never easy to start from scratch on a title, which was flawed, but still popular. I would imagine THQ and Yukes would already be discussing what they could do to improve on the game next year. Now this is not to say that you won’t really enjoy WWE 12 - there are elements to the game which make it a worthwhile purchase - but if you are looking for that revolutionary step within the wrestling, video-game genre, it appears you'll have to wait...
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