About a year ago, I wrote an article on the latest edition of the SmackDown vs. Raw series. The game itself was a step up from the previous year with its new Universe mode and abundant create features. Yet with all of that going for it, it still had its flaws, which took away from the overall experience.
But now it is a whole new ballgame with the release of WWE '12. Developer THQ has really outdone themselves with this edition, most likely as a gesture to the fans who have stuck with them from the beginning when they started making SmackDown games.
So with that in mind, I am running down the big playing points of the game and whether or not you as a gamer and wrestling fan should give this game the time of day.
This is the only part that has really stayed exactly the same over the years. It's basically the same set of matches as last year along with the match creator option. What's new is mixed-gender tag and six-person matches.
The roster for WWE '12 is fantastic—there is no other way to put it. While previous rosters were filled with wrestlers who had been released from the promotion and wrestlers in gimmicks that they were no longer used, this year's roster is nearly flawless.
With only three wrestlers who aren't on WWE TV (Chavo Guerrero, Vladimir Koslov, and Husky Harris) the roster is well put together.
Along with that, the wrestlers look like they do today: CM Punk has his short hair, Brock Lesnar has his sword tattoo and Cody Rhodes has his mask, among others.
The kind of detail used is some of the best that it has ever been for a wrestling game. The wrestlers look lifelike in comparison to the last SvR game where they seemed more cartoonish.
The amount of legends for the game is also incredible, with additions like the Legion of Doom, Demolition, Arn Anderson and Edge.
The only real drawback to the roster that some of the fighters we wished were in the game, like Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage, are tied to upcoming DLC. This is problematic due to the recent phishing scams on Playstation Network and X-Box Live, which have left many gamers locked out of their respective accounts and afraid of getting ripped off again when they access their accounts.
Road to WrestleMania Mode
This mode has really been retooled this year. Instead of five or six different storylines involving different wrestlers, this year the RTWM is a long narrative involving three wrestlers in one single playthrough.
Now while that is a novel idea in comparison to what it once was, it is too much too soon. If each wrestler's story were a little bit shorter, the mode would be more easily digested.
Yet the biggest problem with the mode is the cutaways and the objectives.
Rather than just having the fighter go from match to match with cutscenes in between, they are interspersed in the actual matches, sometimes to where your fighter ends up losing the match even though you were winning.
The objectives are also problematic as sometimes you have to run to a specific area in order to finish a certain task.
This is by far the most improved mode from the previous year. Last year this mode was plagued with problems like not being able to have title matches when you want and not being able to switch a fighter's brand in certain situations, among other things. These have all been fixed and have made the mode much more fluid in how it runs.
Not only that, now you can create your own promotion, brand and show to make it completely your universe. It makes you want to play the mode now with the amount of freedom that you have, which in turn gives the game such a high replay value.
Another mode that has remained basically the same with create a fighter, finisher and moveset. The biggest addition is the create-an-arena mode, something that hasn't been used since WWE Attitude. You can personalize everything from the color of ring ropes to what type of barriers and screens you are going to use. The amount of options are endless and it really adds to the aesthetic of the game.
This year THQ boasted about the new game mechanics called Predator Technology, which was meant to make the game more lifelike. To their credit, it works, but it also has its flaws.
The technology works in that the game isn't as clunky as it had been in years past. There are times that action is clunky, but it isn't too noticeable in comparison to how well it works overall.
The biggest complaint that I have is with the control scheme that is used this year. For almost as long as the SmackDown series has been going strong, at least back to when it was only on the PS2, the analog sticks have been used for grappling. This year that scheme is thrown out in favor of using the buttons, like in the first couple of games.
This would have been fine if the player was allowed to switch back to the old format, but the only control choices that can be made are which control pad you want to use to move your fighter.
Expect to use the in-game tutorial a bit when you first open the game in order to get a hang of the new controls.
So while the game isn't perfect, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. The roster is great and robust, the Universe mode is fantastic and the create modes are filled with options. Once you get past the new control scheme and the long Road mode, this game is perfect for any wrestling fan. You would be remiss if you didn't go out and buy this game if you haven't already done so.