I’ve bought every WWE game up to WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2008. By that point I felt the games began to become repetitive so I only rented. Judging by the early screenshots, previews and trailers for WWE 12 this may be about to change…
Firstly the navigation is easy, far more so than the sometimes complex menus of the Smackdown Vs Raw series. I decided the best way in would be to try a match with a current superstar, nice and easy huh? Actually, yes it was. The screen for selecting match choices was simple, and yet the different match styles were nicely varied (including an Inferno match, much to my delight). My excitement at getting to play the American Dra… sorry, Daniel Bryan, in a WWE game was far too much for my indyriffic brain to pass on, so I decided to test the game mechanics with him against…CM Punk.
The character animations leave you in no doubt about who the most important superstars are. The likes of Undertaker, John Cena and Randy Orton are all brilliantly done, but mid card and lower, just forget it. Drew has the eyes of a mass murderer (and not in a good way, if there is a good way to look like a mass murder…) and Ted Dibiase looks to have stepped straight out of Wallace and Gromit.
Also, Sin Cara has frogs legs, is that normal? I’ve never noticed when actually watching the show. As for HHH, well he looks like a demi-God! It’s entirely possible that Homer saw into the future and saw HHH in this game before writing his descriptions of the Greek heroes at Troy.
If all the character models were done as well as the main event superstars then this game could have been stunning, as it is the inconsistency is rather jarring.
When you get into the matches WWE 12 fixed one of my biggest bugbears with pro wrestling games, proximity detections and collision. I hated seeing superstars getting slammed and their leg going through the bottom rope, now we get the rope to bend under the weight. It’s a small detail, but I like it.
The gameplay is… well, it’s not bad, it’s not great either though. The buttons have been, for some reason, made more complex than in previous games. This isn’t a game you could just pick up and get to grips with in minutes, after over an hour I am still getting beaten with depressing regularity by the game, even on easy mode! For experienced players of WWE games this may be a great thing, but as a casual gamer this is a huge turn off for me. Thankfully it’s still easier than the days of pressing up, down, A, A, towards, A in order to do a DDT.
At times the characters will glitch from position to position; the Undertaker went from sitting to being stood behind me. Unless it was a very odd attempt to capture his supernatural powers of course…
The reversal system is a far more realistic experience, timing and accuracy is a far bigger factor than in previous games where people could just mash buttons until they reversed something.
The single most impressive thing in the gameplay is the selling of the characters, you can see them getting worn out, movement becomes slower and they hold body parts in pain as they move. Little touches like that really make this fun, even in losing.
The core game itself contains the usual suspects in terms of match types, one on ones, tags, Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chambers, and surprisingly for the WWE PG product First Blood and Inferno matches.
The mechanics of the different match styles are easy to pick up, easier than getting to grips with the move system to start with anyway, and are fairly simple to understand. Though the ladder and Inferno matches can drag a little if your timing is off.
The WWE Universe mode is an enjoyable addition, more involved than the old GM mode it’s probably the highlight of the game. Want to be Vince McMahon? This is a better choice than starting your own fed on a shoestring.
The Create A Superstar mode is a contradiction, more in depth and detailed than ever before. I struggled to create a superstar that looked accurately like me (vanity exists!) even half as well as I could in previous WWE games. If you’re not aiming for an exact look, or you don’t have all day to perfect it by trial and error, there’s a lot of scope for customisation in every aspect of your character. My wife, who isn’t interested in wrestling, was able to create a random character to her preferences within half an hour easily.
The Create A Finisher is very limited, I couldn’t create a Diamond Dust for love nor money, no doubt within the hour of this being published someone will email me with a video of how to do it.
Could I recommend this game to someone? Yes, with ease. This is a far from perfect game, and it’s not a huge leap forwards in quality from the old Smackdown Vs Raw series, but it has improved in enough small ways to be worth picking up for £30 or less. Or if you didn’t buy the last game then you don’t need to feel guilty about picking this up at full price.
Points: 7.5 / 10