The original Smackdown! came out in 2000, and eventually evolved into the Smackdown vs. Raw brand. These games were the answer to most wrestling fans that wanted a wrestling experience on their consoles. Fast forward 12 years and we have the first title from the series that doesn’t call itself Smackdown or Smackdown vs. Raw. THQ and Yuke’s seem that they are trying to breathe new life into the franchise by rebranding it WWE 12.
When first looking at the game, you will notice how improved the characters look: not only do they look more like their real life counterparts, they also have everything from their entrances down to their signature moves rendered perfectly. Besides the obvious upgrade in graphics, the next noticeable change was the depth added for the crowds in the arenas you will be performing in. There is a huge level of depth there, rather than the past cut out looking crowds, and it adds to the number that certain parts of this series has been needing.
A couple of notable additions show that the game definitely aims to look more like a TV broadcast. You feel as if you are actually viewing a match on TV, so there is a lot less clutter on the screen, and it only has the essential things on display.
They have gone back to the old school control base of button based attacks, including grappling. So rather than the stick based attacks that we have seen in years past, this switch back has shown how much more effective this control scheme can be. The controls even allow you to target specific parts of the body directly out of a grapple, such as legs or arms. This allows for wearing down your opponent a lot easier.
Anything in the game can be countered, including signatures and finishers, just like it occurs in the real life matches, but to do this you must hit the counter button at the correct time or you will miss your opportunity. Plus, while in previous games when hit with a big hit or move, your character would be stuck on the ground for a quite some time, while you mash buttons to get your character up, this is no longer in this year’s game. WWE 12 will feature much less time spent on the mat, allowing for much less wasted time. It is not that your wrestler isn’t hurt or can’t be pinned, but your opponent must capitalize on his opportunity in the short amount of time that you are on the ground. They have also taken the button mashing out of trying to kick out of a pin as well, simply pressing the button and stopping it in a blue area that will appear on the gauge, allowing your wrestler to kick out. So the more damaged your character is, the less chance you have at kicking out.
Just as in wrestling, this year’s title will place an emphasis on taunting your opponent during your matches. One great addition is known as the “Wake Up Taunt”. Essentially your opponent is on the ground, you hit the correct taunt button and your opponent will slowly rise to their feet dazed leaving a moment of opportunity for you to strike. For example, when I was playing as Randy Orton, I hit the wake up taunt and John Cena slowly climbed to his feet while Orton was doing his signature taunt he does before delivering the RKO. But don’t assume that is an automatic finisher, as I stated before, anything in the game can be reversed at any given time.
Should you be the one that happens to be getting beat down by your opponent, this year’s wrestling title has a new feature mode. Any wrestling fan knows that there are those key moments in a match that a wrestler will occasionally come out of nowhere and deliver a comeback that may or may not lead to them winning that specific match. To use the comeback feature in the game, you are presented with a series of moves where you must hit the button before your opponent. If you make it through the entire chain of comeback movements, then you will be awarded with a finisher to inflict on your opponent.
Knowing your wrestler’s move-set is important as well, so that you can set yourself up for the specific moves/finishers that you are trying to do. If you are trying set up Orton’s punt to the head, then you must be in a different scenario than delivering the RKO. Position yourself so that you can deliver the best move available at that given moment. Also, it must be taken into account that there is now a penalty for doing the same move over and over, so be sure to switch it up or your opponent might gain enough momentum to gain the upper hand.
Though no details were given on what will be included in the Road to Wrestlemania mode and what match types will be included in the game, the gameplay alone was enough to sell me on this game. Be sure to check out WWE 12 when it releases this November.