Proving that you're never too old to enjoy a bit of good old fashioned fake violence, WWE '12 does exactly what is says on the box, offering gamers a chance to don their heroes' sweat covered spandex and partake in a bit of good old-fashion wrestling.
Containing over 70 of the WWE's stars, both old and new, while the core mechanics of the game remain largely the same as its predecessors', a few novel tweaks and additions to the system, ensure that fans of the "sport" will love the final game. Unfortunately, hangover bugs from the game's predecessor, including ongoing problems with collision detection and targeting opponents continue to intrude on the fun.
One of WWE's greatest strengths is its ability to capture the show-stopping spectacle and over-the-top atmosphere of its source material. Everything about THQ's latest WWE game screams authenticity. The arenas and logos littering them all look and feel like they do on the TV. Wrestlers enter to their real music and thanks to THQ's new "Predator Technology" mirror the entrance moves of their real life equivalents down to the smallest fist pump and over-the-top flex. Even the intro videos shown on the game's digital projectors are the same as their real life counterparts.
The development team's attention to detail and faithfulness to its source is without a doubt WWE '12's greatest strength and demonstrates how THQ have developed every aspect of the game to cater to WWE fans.
Like WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, WWE '12 offers gamers a host of different modes to choose from. Unfortunately, also like its predecessors, outside of the most die hard WWE fan most of the fun is to be found in the game's multiplayer modes. The game offers competitive and cooperative matches both online and off. Within its matchmaking options players can engage in everything from a straight up one-on-one battle, to the more brutal cage and ladder variants.
The gameplay is pretty fluid, with WWE '12's amended wrestling mechanic streamlining the experience. One button controls all the character's basic strikes, while another, more important feature, lets the character grapple their opponent. All major throws and suplexes are performed by various commands within the grapple state. Special moves are also suitably easy to perform with a dedicated icon appearing to tell you how and when you're "fired up" enough to perform the character's finisher.
The only problems with the gameplay emerge when fighting multiple opponents, or trying to interact with objects. Occasionally when trying to battle multiple enemies we found our character trying to hit everyone but the actual person we wanted them to. Additionally, when trying to interact with objects we occasionally found it difficult to get the character to pick up the item or perform the action we wanted with them. The problem was particularly troubling in ladder matches where time is key and the player doesn't want to waste valuable seconds just trying to get their character to begin climbing the ladder.
That said, the occasional frustrations felt in the game's combat don't intrude enough to ruin the entire experience. Playing with four friends at once is as fun as it was back when we were fourteen and the gleeful ecstasy of successfully knocking an opponent out with a steel chair is as strong a guilty pleasure as ever.
While the game's multiplayer is great, the single player, while better than the WWE franchise's previous offerings is still a problem only really catering to the most evangelical of WWE fans. WWE '12 offers players two key singleplayer modes, Universe and Road to Wrestlemania.
Universe is without a doubt only for true WWE fanatics. The mode lets players create their own WWE calenders, letting you organise the matches and line-up of events. In affect the mode is almost a WWE management sim, letting the player role-play being WWE's owner.
For the less keen fans, WWE '12 also houses the Road to Wrestlemania mode. The mode offers players three new stories to play through. The first "Villains Story" sees you take the role of the "Celtic Warrior" Sheamus, while the second "Outsider" story focuses on veteran wrestler Triple H and the third and by far most interesting tale, sees you take on the role of your own custom built wrestler.
The third tale in Road to Wrestlemania is by far the most interesting of all the modes as it shows off the game's impressive character creation mechanic. The mode sees you cover every aspect of the character from their look all the way down to the entrance routine. The creation process is great because of the wealth of options it offers players. Having played with the mode far longer than we should have, the IBTimes' tech team was suitably pleased with its pot-bellied clown complete with neon pink afro.
Despite the end reward, getting to the end of the mode was a drag. Going through the fictional stories of Sheamus and Triple H holds little lustre to those not enamoured with the sport and its never ending soap opera-esque plot.
Summing up, WWE 12 doesn't reinvent the the wheel when it comes to gameplay or features. It does however offer a solid entry into the long-lived WWE gaming franchise. With the whole host of WWE match types on offer the multiplayer remains WWE's primary selling point. Even those who aren't fans of the show itself will be able to enjoy wasting a few idle hours in front of the TV engaging in the occasional cage or ladder epic with their friends. The game's singleplayer however remains a fringe feature. Despite a host of options the subject matter assumes an interest in WWE and will generally leave player's unfamiliar with the the world of wrestling either disinterested or confused.
- Fun multiplayer with a host of options
- Great attention to detail regarding the characters and arenas
- Character animations and moves are impressive and suitably over the top
- Character creation is still awesome
- Singleplayer is only of interest to hardcore WWE fans
- Lingering collision detection and targeting mechanics can be a pain