WWE 12 | Gameguide WWE 12 – Gameguide

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I wanted to like this game.  I didn’t really expect to but there was a little red-necked, big-brash USA-culture-loving part of me that really wanted to like WWE12.  I don’t consider wrestling a sport any more than I consider ballet a sport but I embrace it for what it is;  A wonderful train-wreck of entertainment, cliché, homosexual repression and pageantry (about how I would describe ballet).  I’ve followed wrestling on-and-off since the days of the WWF and Hulkamania, in fact I still have my original wrestling cards from primary school!  So although I can’t tell you who the current title holders or contenders are I did recognise 95% of the characters in the game, the moves and the events.  I consider this the minimum level of background you’ll want to get enjoyment out of this game because if you strip away the WWE-ness the game itself is pretty poor and highly unlikely to hold the attention of your average gamer very long.

The WWE universe & its characters are fully laid out for you to explore with stand alone matches, a story mode (Journey to Wrestlemania) and the chance to drop into the WWE Universe of RAW and SMACKDOWN and become a contender in the WWE Universe!  You can use any of the dozens of real life Athletes or create your own.  In fact it’s a bit daunting to start with as the layout of the WWE Universe is so customizable that it really is quite confusing and you actually have to jump in and play around a bit before you really get a feel for how it all works.  A decent introduction would have been nice that could have also doubled as a tutorial and would make the game a lot more accessible.  However once you start digging around in the WWE Universe you have a huge amount of control and flexibility.

In fact, there is so much to do in this game you will grow bored of the matches themselves long before you run out of options because sadly the worst feature of this game is the fighting mechanism.  Now I realise the goal of this game is to reproduce the look and feel of a wrestling match rather than simply create a fighting game.  So if you think of it as a sports simulation it actually works rather well as the matches play out much like they do on TV with ridiculous reversals and characters gaining & loosing the upper hand as players get on a run of unstoppable moves.  Also with the AI selecting moves depending on the condition of your opponent and the location in the ring it plays out like an interactive wrestling match. 

Overall the control system is solid and fairly easy accessible with a single separate button press to strike, grapple, irish whip/pin and complete finishing moves which is sufficient to engage in a match.  However the bumpers/triggers/right stick all combine in various ways to add depth and variety to the fight or allow you to move around/in/out of the ring differently.  In theory this should create a much more engaging game but sadly my skills didn’t quite step up to the mark to really allow me fully explore these advanced mechanics.  Unfortunately one of the key mechanisms where you reverse your opponents move with a tap of R2 is very difficult to reliably pull off.  The timing is crucial and although the game flashes up a prompt if you actually press it at this point it is too late so I ended up almost button mashing in an attempt to try and reverse the opponents attack while the computer seemed able to reverse my attacks with contemptuous ease.  Still it was often a well timed reversal that lead to some of the best moves and feelings of satisfaction.

However my biggest complaint is the collision detection which is still pretty bad.  Trying to clothesline an opponent after your irish-whip into the ropes is nearly impossible and frequently I found myself punching/grappling mid air.  Trying to climb the turnbuckle usually saw me bouncing off each side of the ring.  So overall I found that playing the game on easy whilst it was a bit too easy created an experience that was like controlling a televised wrestling match where I could totally control the match and win with ease but when I played on Normal I would lose 9 out of 10 matches and just ended up getting hugely frustrated.

Graphically it is a similarly mixed bag.  It does a wonderful job of creating the WWE experience with excellent entrance scenes for the fighters which are taken straight from TV.  Interestingly everyone claims this is a huge improvement graphically but my first impression (and that of my wife watching me play) was that it was really very poor.  The men are very wooden & stilted and the woman are incredibly butch… However during my research for this review I was watching a few clips from WWE and realised the men are very wooden & stilted and the woman are incredibly butch… So basically they nailed it!  I was disappointed with the quality of the character modelling & presentation of the arenas given that they are operating in such small environments but it wasn’t bad it just wasn’t great.  Having said that this is a huge improvement over previous releases and is the first game released on a new development platform so it should only get better.  There were some strange visual artefacts (which to be fair can’t really be avoided) when moves where attempted without sufficient room in the ring but again this is an improvement over previous versions and is a bit of a no-win situation for games of this style.

So overall WW12?  I certainly had fun playing it and expect to continue to play it a fair bit more yet and I’m only vaguely interested in wrestling.  If you are a true fan you will get huge amounts of enjoyment and game time out of WWE12 as it is just such a comprehensive experience and the downsides are not so significant as to suck the fun out of it.  However an average gamer won’t get much mileage out of this and there are far better places to invest your hard earned money so i suggest you head on down to the video store and rent it for the weekend along with Wrestlemania 3 & 17 and make a weekend of it!

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