So, WWE 12. When THQ first announced they were rebranding and revitalizing their Smackdown vs. RAW series I was genuinely excited to check it out. The timing was perfect for me, having recently got back in to watching wrestling after taking a 10 year break. THQ promised that their new “Predator” technology would make the game look and feel like the real thing (and I use the term “real” loosely) but my excitement for the game quickly evaporated once gameplay videos started to leak and now that I’ve had a chance to play WWE 12 for myself my excitement level is at an all time low.
In honor of tonight’s Pay Per View event, I decided to try out a triple threat match Hell in a Cell match featuring John Cena, CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio. Playing as CM Punk, I eventually emerged victorious… but only because Del Rio stood back and watched as I made Cena “Go To Sleep” before pinning him. The game’s AI was laughably clumsy and the animations are still as awkward as ever. I understand that this isn’t the final build and Yukes still has a lot off tweaking to do but with the release date just 2 months away I’m not feeling very optimistic.
WWE ‘12’s tv-style camera system makes the game look authentic and the new wake up taunt system makes it even easier to pull off finishing moves but everything in between feels sub-par. I was particularly disgusted by the entrances which were almost uncomfortable to watch. CM walked to the ring lacking his usual swag and cocky mannerism, Cena stumbled out like he just drank his weight in vodka after being violated in prison and Del Rio drove in to the area in what looked like a hearse from a PS2 game in lieu the luxurious sports cars we all love him for.
Graphically Dub 12 (sorry) is incredibly inconsistent. Some characters look fine, others look like they were imported from SvR 2009 and coated with glossier textures. Earlier this year WWE All Stars finally made wrestling games fun again by introducing flashy match-ending finishers which ensured that each bout ended with a dramatic conclusion. In comparison, WWE 12 feels a lot tamer. Scoring a victory with a signature move just doesn’t pack the punch that it should, which is partly due to the lack of enthusiasm expressed by both the crowd and commentator. Speaking of commentators, both Michael Cole and Jerry Lawyer do a piss-poor job of keeping up with the action. Rather than commenting on the match which is currently taking place, the pair just churn out uninteresting factoids about whichever superstar is currently in the ring. When Cena hit Del Rio with an Attitude Adjustment, Lawyer was more interesting in talking about Rio’s personal ring announcer.
There are still many elements of WWE 12 that I have yet to explore and I’m hoping that I’ll start to enjoy the game once I’m able to invest time in to the finished product. While all signs point to the fact that WWE 12 will disappoint, I’m not entirely ready to write the game off just yet. From what I’ve played so far the game sucks… Badly! But have I played enough to make a true judgement call? Absolutely not. For that reason you should take this preview with a grain of salt and look out for my review which will be posted in the coming weeks.