I’ve had two major passions in my life since I was a kid: video games and professional wrestling. Since “Macho Man” Randy Savage took on Hulk Hogan for the WWF title at WrestleMania V, I’ve been a diehard fan. So video games based on pro wrestling has always been a double whammy for me, targeting both my passions. After years of SmackDown vs. Raw, Yukes has completely taken the game back to the drawing board and made it into WWE ’12. Does this new title live up to the hype, or is it more of the same in a pretty new box?
Let’s begin with the most important element in any game: the game play. They redesigned the controls, and I’ll say that they’ve made the best set of controls yet. The square button allows you to hit striking moves, the X button is for grappling, triangle let’s you hit signatures and finishers, and circle pins your opponents. Holding R1 while your opponent is dazed allows you to target body parts, a feature that’s especially welcome for submission wrestlers. The controls work really well. Once I got used to the new arrangement, I was excellently executing wrestlers with the best of them. The real challenge will be getting used to reversing moves, an action done by hitting R2 at the right moment. This can be difficult, but once you master it, you’ll feel like a main eventer in no time.
A minor nitpick about the new controls is I wish they’d made a tutorial level to get used to them. They did this in the previous game, and it really helped me get used to the controls. Also, finding out the controls and the conditions for winning specialty matches can be exasperating. For instance, a table match I had with Jack Swagger took forever because they don’t explain what’s necessary to prop your opponent on a table. Occasions like this are thankfully sparse, and didn’t pose too much of an issue. The main issue I had with this game was getting used to all the changes they made. For example, kicking out of a pinfall is not a matter of button mashing. Instead you hold down the X button and release a growing bar inside the correct section of the grey bar. Submission wrestling has become a button mashing event called Breaking Point, with it being easier to make opponents submit if the body part is weak. Like I said, I like the system and think it’s the best one they’ve ever created. It just takes some getting used to.
Graphically, the game for the most part is fine, though it isn’t perfect. Members of the audience look terrible up close, though I appreciate that they all look different. The wrestlers themselves range from amazingly accurate to okay. A running joke in these games is that you can tell who’s a main eventer in WWE thanks to the level of detail in the characters. For example, cover boy Randy Orton looks so true to life it’s incredible. He looks and acts so much like the real deal that you’d almost swear you were watching WWE live. Wrestlers on the lower card however don’t look as accurate, such as John Morrison with hair that looks like it’s made from Play-Doh. It’s a shame, but ultimately excusable.
This year Yukes redid all of the animations from top to bottom. Gone are the days when you’d warp to the middle of the ring to execute certain moves that you triggered. Now you can pull of a move from any position, and even change the direction of most of them. Even better, the move can be interrupted. Is Rey Mysterio about to hit your tag partner with a 619? You can jump him as comes off the rope. You can interrupt any move or finisher, which makes the game even more like the real thing.
Yukes made some other tweaks to the game as well, such as the ropes shaking when you bounce off them, cameras angles switching just like on TV, and even special taunts that make your opponent slowly stand up in time for your character’s finisher. On top of this, all of the arena set-ups from pay-per-views of the past year have been recreated to great detail and are a blast to wrestle in. The environments overall are all created to perfection and are a blast to wrestle in.
If there’s anything you really have to tip your hat to WWE ’12 for, it’s the incredible amount of content in this game. Not only is every wrestler on the main roster in the game, they also many legends from the past such as Arn Anderson, Shawn Michaels, the Legion of Doom, Kevin Nash, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Edge, and many more. Plus, more wrestlers will be included in the future as DLC, like Brodus Clay, Trish Stratus, Kharma, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Mick Foley.
If there’s anything that isn’t in the game, chances are you can make it. Quite rarely have I seen a game provide so many options for customization. You still have the classic Create-a-Wrestler (with more options to chose from than ever), which allows you to create a grappler from the ground up. You can give this wrestler (or any wrestler at all) a new finisher thanks to Create-a-Finisher. Don’t like any of the entrances? Don’t worry because you can create you own entrance as well. Didn’t like the Road to WrestleMania plots, and thought you could do better? You can make you own story with any wrestler you want with the Create-A-Story. On top of all this, they created another new feature for you to use called Create-a-Arena. This one allows you to create any ring area you want. Want one dedicated to DX? nWo? Monday Night Nitro? You can do this and more with the new Arena creator.