Ever wanted to be head booker? You can with the WWE Universe mode. With this you can plan out storylines and matches in the WWE for as far ahead as you’d like. Want to finally make Zack Ryder into the face of the WWE? Want the brand split to mean something again? Then WWE Universe mode is up your alley.
The music in the game is great, with the wrestlers’ theme music put on perfectly. However, the voice acting is really a mixed bag in this game. Some of the wrestlers like Triple H, Miz, and Regal put actual emotion into their lines, and delivered them really well. Others like Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, Drew McIntrye, and Edge phone their performances in. It can detract from the story, but thankfully doesn’t come up too often.
If there was one major thing I was disappointed with, it was the Road to WrestleMania mode. Granted they have some good ideas for it this year, including it focusing on three wrestlers and flows smoothly from on to another. You start with Sheamus as a heel as he starts a stable that takes over the WWE, then move on to Triple H as he plays a maverick in a lawless version of SmackDown, and finally get to the Hero story, for which you can select a created wrestler. I do like how this new Story Mode doesn’t focus on WrestleMania, but rather building a story around each character. It’s honestly something they should repeat for future games.
However, they make this story more frustrating than it has any right to be by using the most annoying cut scene cliché in video games today. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: You’re trying to get past this difficult area in the game, or trying to protect a character in an escort mission. You die and die trying to pull it off until finally you complete the level. Then in the following cut scene, the enemies kill you or the character you were protecting. You’re upset, and left asking “If I was going to die anyway, why did you waste 45 minutes of my life?” You will encounter this many times in the game. You’ll play your best to defeat a tough challenge, and your satisfaction is killed when you find out your character lost regardless. This frustrated me a lot, and killed a lot of enjoyment for the game.
They also load this game up with too much story, a complaint I thought I’d never make. Quite rarely do you finish a match normally in The Road to WrestleMania. Usually you have to wear down an opponent to a point that a prompt for the Triangle button will show, and the cutscene takes care of the rest. Then, in order to match up with the story that has been written, it tacks on objectives to your matches, causing some frustrating restrictions as well. In one case I was playing as Triple H in a tag match, and it wants me to beat The Miz specifically in order to win. And since the story wants Triple H to make the pin, the game disables the ability for me to tag in my partner without telling me. It just interrupts the flow of the match and made me miserable. Honestly, if it weren’t for how many items are unlocked during story mode, I would have skipped it.
WWE ’12 does do a lot of things right, despite my complaints. You can have fun with the customization alone. Plus, the joy of playing your favorite WWE Superstars and setting up your own dream matches is still here. The new controls are fantastic and add more depth to the character’s move set. The amount of content is overwhelming, and all WWE games should have content on par with WWE ’12 from here on out. The foundation for a pretty successful franchise has been set. However, they make a lot of bad decisions that make the game’s story mode more of a chore than a game, and took away from a really awesome first entry. If Yukes could back off on the story a little, and just let the player have a wrestling match, they could have had the whole package here. Still, what we have isn’t bad, and any wrestling fan will love WWE ’12.
FINAL GRADE: B+