PS3 Review – WWE ’12

The Smackdown Vs. Raw series has become a yearly purchase for many wrestling fans out there, resulting in hours upon hours spent creating various superstars/divas and playing online in matches and tournaments. Throw in a compelling storyline that is included with the Road To Wrestlemania mode and you have yourself an a game that is any wrestling fan’s dream. This year looks to be no different, as THQ has completely overhauled the game itself, even going so far as to rebrand it simply as WWE ’12 this year. The game boasts the slogan of “Bigger, Badder, Better”, and it is time to see if it lives up to this bold statement.

The roster is massive – over 60 wrestlers are available to choose from, ranging from divas to current stars. The game has several “old school wrestlers” that many will appreciate being included in the game. These include such stars like Vader and my personal favorite Brock Lesnar (who is now with UFC). This is hands down one of the best rosters available in a wrestling game, ever. THQ really went the extra mile here, and it  shows. The total number of wrestlers will be expanded upon with future DLC, so there is no telling what else THQ has up their sleeves for wrestling fans with WWE ’12. A few have already been revealed including Batista and Mick Foley.

Road To Wrestlemania has had a huge overhaul. It now features a much longer, more in-depth story centering around the three wrestlers Sheamus, Triple H, and custom character Jacob Cass. Each of these stories are all connected to one another in some way, and should be played accordingly for the total experience.

Of the three storylines, each offers a different appeal to fans. Sheamus is considered the “Villain” storyline. Upon completion of that story you will be able to take on the role of the King of Kings with the “Outsider” story with Triple H. Then players will be able to experience a much more customized experience by taking on the role of Jacob Cass and the “Hero” storyline. This will allow you to use a created superstar under the name of Jacob Cass, who just won WWE’s talent scouting NXT and is now trying to make a name for himself. Each story is completely different in its own right, yet they are all connected. Despite these being good, they’re not great, and don’t give any reason to play them more than one time. The inclusion of an unknown Jacob Cass is a strange move – why not just let fans create a character from scratch? Surely fans would get behind their own character and likeness more than they ever could a random nobody.

Players looking for a quick matchup against computer or a friend need to check out the exhibition mode. This throws you into a match of your choice with whomever you want to play as. There are more choices besides just the roster, the game features over 40 different match types, ranging from Championship Scramble to Hell in a Cell.

Making a return this year is the WWE Universe mode, and it has been improved on a lot from when it made its debut last year. This mode still acts as a career mode for a specific superstar or several you would like to control, but now things such as brands themselves can be edited. This allows you to create other brands such as the FCW, or even bring back ECW or WCW.

One of the most popular aspects of the previous Smackdown Vs. Raw games is the creation aspects of the game, and WWE ’12 builds upon the already strong foundation. Many of the favorites have made a return and been improved upon, and there have been a few additions that are more than welcomed, most notably the custom entrance video and custom arena.

The ever popular Create a Superstar, Create an Entrance, Create a Finisher, and Create a Move-set have made a return, there haven’t been any huge changes other than a much smoother/quicker experience and the addition of more options to choose from when you are customizing your superstar/diva. Create a Story has also made a return for players that are looking to create an in-depth storyline to experience or share with fellow players via online.

There are new creation modes, such as the long-requested Create an Entrance Movie. Once entering this mode you must choose an initial theme for the video to be based on, and there are over 25 to choose from. These videos are pre-made videos and typically add in your superstar, chosen colors, logos, fonts, etc. at given points of the video. After choosing the theme you must choose the theme color, then have the option to add in text and logos as well. This is a great new addition that has been long awaited for this series, and it works great to add that personal aspect to your created wrestler’s entrance movie.

Create an Arena is the other huge addition to the huge list of things you can fully customization in WWE ’12. In this mode you can control the ring mat, ropes, posts, apron, turnbuckles, outside mats, barricade, name plates, and even the broadcast tables. With this level of detail available in a custom arena you should be able to create anything you can think of.

The Online mode has once again made a return in this year’s game and it works a lot like last year. Here you can set up matches against opponents, as well as hop in a Royal Rumble (which is a ton of fun). You are also able to view your info, which shows all of your stats from participating in online matches. Visiting the WWE Shop allows you to purchase any in-game content you would like to use, such as individual items or things like Fan Axxess, which gains you access to multiple DLC for WWE ’12. One of the best features of this mode is definitely the WWE Community Creations area. Here you can upload your creations as well as download other user’s content if they have chosen to upload it. This includes everything from the Creation area of the game.

The actual in-game mechanics are another thing that have been overhauled.The loading is extremely fast now and there is no stuttering within the menus of the game. The game’s controls are completely different from previous installments. The moves are all fluid and tie into one another, and everything transitions from one move to the next smoothly – that is if you take the time to master the new controls. Wrestlers feel unique from one another, thanks to the adrenaline system. This takes into account a wrestler’s size, therefore allowing them to move at different speeds. For example, Evan Bourne will be able to utilize some evasive tactics with the amount of speed that he has over Mark Henry.

The new Breaking Point submission system is a nice touch. It allows for you to fill up a meter after you have targeted specific limbs (yes you can target specific limbs while in matches) during a submission hold. If the meter happens to become full then your opponent will tap out – but if they deplete the meter then they will reverse your hold, resulting in damage to you.

The game looks fantastic. Wrestlers look exactly like their real life counterparts, all the way down to the way they move. Time and effort was spent on capturing the environment of what a WWE event is like.

WWE ’12 is one of the best wrestling games made, period. Each year THQ tops the previous performance – but this year they’ve really improved the creation and storyline elements to where the rebranding of the game feels appropriate. The game isn’t without missteps, however. There’s always WWE ’13 for THQ to fix ’em.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Huge roster and tons of customization across creation modes.

+ Gameplay has been changed to resemble what is seen at WWE events.

– Who the hell is Jacob Cass?

8 out of 10