While many people often try to knock wrestling for being scripted and over the top, one thing you cannot deny is the sport’s entertainment value. Yes, it may not pack the realism you are used to viewing on a NFL Sunday, but it is pretty exciting. Thanks to the team of developers at Yuke’s and their publishing friends at THQ, you can partake in all of wrestling’s excitement via WWE ’12. The title is the sequel to WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, and it comes with plenty of improvements that make it an obvious purchase for wrestling fans and anyone else looking to quench their thirst for some high-flying, hard-hitting action.
Before we get into the gameplay of WWE ’12, let’s focus on what truly makes wrestling the spectacle that it is: the wrestlers. To say that the roster in WWE ’12 is extensive would be an understatement. The roster is made up of wrestlers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and even genders, so fans with differing preferences should be satisfied. You have superstar hotshots like John Cena, CM Punk, the Miz, and Randy Orton. Do you prefer wrestlers with a little more experience behind them? Go ahead and pick Ricky Steamboat, the Rock, or Stone Cold Steve Austin. Are you the type that likes watching giants perform in the ring? Choose Mark Henry, Undertaker, or Big Show. You also have your choice of the diva variety that includes Kelly Kelly, Maryse, Layla, and Natalya, among others. These are just some examples of the wrestlers that come packed into WWE ’12.
You can take control of some of the big names right off the bat, while others are unlockable as you progress throughout the game. Oh, did I mention the downloadable content? There are even more wrestlers available there, including Trish Stratus, Shawn Michaels, Jerry Lawler, and Macho Man, just to name a few. In all, the roster exceeds 60 wrestlers, and each comes with their own look and personality that wrestling fans have come to either love or hate over time.
Speaking of the look of the wrestlers, the developers did a superb job in recreating them aesthetically. In terms of appearance, WWE ’12 could very well be the wrestling genre’s best game to date. It has all of the vibrant colors and graphics one would associate with the sport and that is amplified by the addition of solid sound effects. Whether it’s a wrestler’s theme music or hard hits, WWE ’12 comes at you with full force. The authentic entrances will undoubtedly catch the eye of hardcore fans, and they do a good job of leading up to the action in the ring.
Presentation is one of the characteristics that helps professional wrestling stand apart from more conventional sports, and it is really put on display in WWE ’12 with a new broadcast camera system that can fool you at times into thinking you are watching an actual live broadcast. With a supposed 25 new camera angles, absolutely no action is left uncaptured. In fact, forget what was said about the roster. The presentation is the most impressive feature of WWE ’12.
The announcing in WWE ‘12, on the other hand, is not so hot, but that seems to be a complaint that accompanies many sports titles, so we will give it a pass here. Hopefully, the developers will improve the commentary in the next installment, however, as it does add to the overall aura and excitement of each match.
Moving on to the gameplay, those who have played previous wrestling titles, such as SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 in particular, should notice a variety of improvements this time around. You can target specific limbs, which adds a whole new level of strategy to the game and prevents mindless button mashing. This feature should be welcomed by so-called wrestling “purists.” Of course, each wrestler comes with an array of personal moves you can execute when the time is right as well. The developers implemented what is dubbed as Predator Technology to improve overall animation realism and promote strategy, and it’s also worth noting here that collisions seem to be improved over WWE ‘12’s predecessor.
Wrestling wouldn’t be complete without brash taunting, so the addition of new wake up taunts is quite appropriate. Instead of going immediately into a finishing move, prompting a wake up taunt will cause an opponent to stand up first for even further humiliation. On, the flip side, if you are on your last breath, don’t lose hope, because the dynamic comeback system will give you small window of opportunity to get back into the match by executing a quick time event. This is just another addition to the gameplay that truly evokes the spirit of wrestling to a T. Toss in an interesting Breaking Point submission system, and you have all the wrestling action you can handle while in the ring. There are obviously a few bugs here and there that will pop up from time to time, but the gameplay and AI definitely earns a passing grade.
As for modes, there’s WWE Universe and Road to Wrestlemania, and both feature storylines laced with a plethora of cut scenes that help to make the WWE so popular. Alliances and rivalries will develop as you progress, with your decisions crafting your journey. These modes seem more geared towards actual wrestling fans who enjoy all of the plot that accompanies the matches each week, and the actual results of each mode appear to coincide with the real world happenings for the most part. Those with a creative itch can make use of WWE ‘12’s creation mode that allow for more of a customized experience. Wrestlers can be created and paired with their own finishing moves and entrances, plus storylines for added drama. Creations can be uploaded and shared with others online, which is a nice touch. Last, but not least, there’s the online mode that lets you test your skills against human opponents. Such action is much preferred over the AI any day of the week, no matter how much it has been improved.
If you are a wrestling fan, there’s no question that you should pick up WWE ’12. The roster is reason enough to buy the game, but when you consider the different modes, the improved gameplay, and the overall presentation, it becomes a no-brainer.
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