Tech News on G4
WWE '12 brings change to franchise
Dec 19, 2011
By John Powell - G4 Canada
Just as Rey Mysterio Jr. has masks, the THQ WWE video game franchise has had as many identities. There has been 'No Mercy', 'WrestleMania 21', 'WWE Raw', 'Legends of WrestleMania' and 'WWE All-Stars'. The most familiar and enduring franchise though was 'Smackdown Versus Raw', the greatest bunch of wrestling games ever made. Period.
Turning over a new leaf in 2011, THQ waves goodbye to the beloved 'Smackdown Vs Raw' this year in favour of 'WWE '12' and a whole lot of alterations.
The most obvious change is the control system. Just when you have gotten used to the specialized 'Smackdown Versus Raw' controls, developers Yuke's have totally removed the "weak" and "strong" grappling system. Although wrestlers now perform different moves based on their opponent's physical state, the new direction reduces their total arsenal of moves.
The simplified system takes a bit of getting used to and still has its flaws. Submission moves don't have the impact they once did and you might be advised not to use them at all. A foe breaking out of a submission moves more often than not dazes you and put you at a disadvantage. Locking another grappler in a figure four, abdominal stretch or sleeper hold hardly seems worth it in the end if you will be shifted on the defensive.
Being able to target specific limbs is an improvement but that adjustment just offers more choice, it doesn't make you a more effective wrestler.
The most infuriating change though is that reversals have been given a stronger role in the game. You can be on the verge of pinning a foe and they will chain together four or five moves after reversing just one of yours. You have no choice but to put down your controller and watch as you are battered and beaten until you can finally mount a comeback. Sure, this might be more realistic as in how a wrestling bout actually flows but it is not a whole lot of fun to sit through.
One flaw we would wish Yuke's would fix is the exasperating targeting issues which, believe it or not, have gotten worse in 'WWE '12'. Once more than two grapplers are brawling, it is exceedingly easy to accidentally grab and attack the wrong foe and in some instances that can make the difference between winning and losing a match. Seemingly going hand-in-hand with that, tag partners no longer perform "saves" or interfere like they used to. If the developers were moving towards a more realistic format, cutting the "saves" is not the way to do so.
If you can get past the controller and technique, 'WWE '12' has a lot of gameplay depth. The three 'Road To WrestleMania' campaigns are three 18 month endeavours. Unlike 'Smackdown Versus Raw', you cannot pick your wrestlers though. The first two "roads" are the Villian (Sheamus) and Hero (Triple H) paths. During the third, you can use a created character. The twists and turns in the Road to WrestleMania campaigns are as clever and detailed as you would see in the WWE. Wrestling fans will love the angles and surprises. Those storylines come with a price though and that price is you as a player will find yourself confused as to what the in-ring objectives are and at many times during the unfolding scenarios, you will be forced to fail. What I mean by that is you will be playing to lose. For example: The game will tell you, your goal for the particular match is to beat Cody Rhodes. After battling back and forth for maybe 20 minutes or more, when you finally hit your finishing move, a cut-scene with Cody reversing the move and pinning you will interrupt the gameplay. Instead of inspiring that puts a real damper on things.
Sometimes mechanics will purposely fail with no explanation – again, playing to the storyline. All of a sudden, you won't be able to tag your partner in or you cannot put away your opponent no matter what you hit them with. What you don't know is the "glitches" are all part of the storyline guiding the happenings to a particular resolution. The 'Road to WrestleMania' paths tell great tales but there has to be a better way to put things together so the player are not left wondering what they need to do. A player's goal should always be clear.
The living, breathing Universe mode is just as riveting as it was last year and the creation tools, selections have been enhanced to be even more versatile than ever before. As before, you can wrestle and download fan created content online…if the servers are working properly. At launch, they were as moody as your Aunt Doris when she doesn't get her afternoon tea.
For good and for bad, more than just the name of the WWE franchise has changed. Some fans are going to love the new modifications, while others, while not completely disappointed, may be longing for the days when the game wasn't as mainstream as it has become.
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