WWE ’12 PS3 Review

“Bigger. Badder. Better.” This is the headline for THQ’s latest foray into the world of championship wrestling. With the Smackdown vs. RAW series finally coming to a halt, THQ has aptly named the new title WWE ’12. Graphical improvements, a streamlined control system, and a plethora of content make for an authentically entertaining wrestling experience, though a few hiccups prevent the title from being the pinnacle of true WWE perfection.

WWE ’12 has some of the best visuals in the series. Wrestlers are highly detailed in both their faces and attire. While animations can be somewhat quirky at times, such as when one wrestler unsuccessfully grapples or attempts to throw a punch at another, quality can clearly be seen through and through. At times, it seems as if too much attention was placed on the design of the combatants and less on smaller touches. Audience member faces during any given match are blocky, clunky, and ugly. Hit detection was also minorly off-putting. Clotheslines and elbow drops hit where they should have missed and vice versa. These issues are mitigated by the detail put into the lighting, stage design, and ring animations but nevertheless exist.

While much fun can be had in WWE ’12‘s multiplayer modes, the solitary gamer will find solace in WWE ’12‘s Road To Wrestlemania mode. Road To Wrestlemania‘s series of campaigns dramatically begins with Sheamus interrupting a John Cena match, smashing him atop a wooden table and eventually branches out into a storyline covering a number of arcs, one of which including your Custom Wrestler. All in all Road To Wrestlemania isn’t a bad mode, but it isn’t spectacular either. While the surprise disqualifications and unexpected 2-on-1’s can get slightly repetitive and boring, the mode does a good enough job of bringing the dramatic atmosphere of televised and Pay-Per-View WWE matches to home gaming consoles.

If anyone said this title wasn’t chock full of content, they’d be flat out lying. From game modes, to character customization, unlockable content, and even DLC, WWE ’12 is loaded to the brim. In addition to the surprisingly robust and time-leeching Custom Superstar mode in place to allow creation of your own custom wrestler complete with entrance and finishing moves, hidden wrestlers can be unlocked alongside alternate costumes for your favorite Superstars. THQ has even confirmed that they are supplementing the title with both paid and free DLC. Match modes are aplenty, and you are sure to find one that fits your fancy at any given time. Your vanilla One-on-One and Two-on-Two exhibition matches are present alongside other match styles such as the nearly-insane 6-Man and Fatal 4-Way Fights. Simply put, it’s all here.

WWE Universe is another interesting mode that allows you to play through a number of prominent matches and tournaments such as the WWE, US, and Divas Championships. I felt a little more freedom in this mode as opposed to in Road To Wrestlemania, where I had to force the outcome of every match just to progress. WWE Universe is a refreshing chance to play prominent matches in wrestling history, all the while earning unlockables as you continue to play. With each week bringing a featured Match Card, you’re guaranteed a fresh ‘Remarkable Match’ to experience the authenticity of televised events as they once occurred.

Voice acting is excellent. Commentators wittingly discuss their favorite wrestlers, accurately describe the tide of each match, and didn’t annoy me at any given time. Wrestlers sound authentically proud, loud, and clear, and I only wish their vocal emotions were mirrored with decent facial animations instead of the blank stares, smiles, and shouts that their onscreen avatars flash. Themes such as Kelly Kelly’s Holla are faithfully implemented at each wrestler’s entrance and are well done.

The most disappointing feature of WWE ’12 is its Online component. Getting into matches with fellow players seemed to be a tad difficult. Even upon connecting to any given opponent, input delay was simply intolerable even with the new and streamlined grappling system in place. If you’re looking to play against a mate any way other than locally, I can’t say the experience will be pleasurable.

WWE ’12 is a step in the right direction. Yuke’s implementation of a limb-targeting system adds a satisfyingly-strategic twist to the usual brawl and is accompanied by passable visuals and great sound. Loads and loads of content make this title worth every dollar spent on it. Most important of all, WWE ’12 is authentic. While this isn’t an engaging experience all of the time, there is no doubt that you’ll feel as if you’re literally watching the televised drama that is so prevalent in Road To Wrestlemana. If only I could feel like more of a participant instead of a viewer, then I’d be completely satisfied.

8 out of 10