WWE 12, a new name but is anything radically different or improved? Gone is the "Smackdown Vs. Raw" title but is THQ's latest anything more than a name change?
The Road to Wrestlemania mode has been revamped. Thankfully, gone is the tedium of walking around backstage looking to have a one line insult hurled at you time and time again. In WWE 12, you are given three stories to play out: Villan, Outsider and Hero. These three stories play over a period of time and no longer are you shoehorned into the Royal Rumble through Wrestlemania. This immediately makes the mode feel more dynamic and the tales in question are actually pretty good and current WWE writers should take note. One big omission is not knowing what you're actually unlocking and having to exit the mode to see what has been unlocked. This is just inconveniencing the player for little reason and while not game-breaking it's a strange decision on the part of THQ. Furthermore, this year's RTWM is incredibly linear with no choices to be made by the player, which given the content of the various stories is incredibly disappointing.
WWE Universe Mode returns and was my favourite mode last year. The ability to have title matches at any time and not just be restricted to Pay-Per-Views, is a big addition and gives the player a freedom that wasn't available in last year's version. The customisation doesn't stop there though, with the ability to change championships, show names, logos and arenas. The capability to change everything in the around you is fantastic and helps Universe Mode 2.0 move way ahead of last year's version.
However, there's a big problem. The Community Creations suite where you can access all these logos, arenas and superstars, doesn't work. At the time of writing you will happen to encounter, "The WWE 12 server is not available, please try later." This happens far too often and is unacceptable. The game makes players pay for their online access if bought pre-owned and then they'll find out it doesn't work, which is a joke and not in the Zack Ryder sense. The online was broken last year and the year before that, is it really all that hard to have a serviceable online mode!?
The only hope is a patch down the line to alleviate these careless issues that never should have shipped with the game. While online does work albeit with THQ lag, it's disruptive and will throw you out in Community Creations over and over again. Lousy.
Other additions include the new "Predator" technology system. In all honesty I didn't notice that much of a difference other than a reduction in clipping which took THQ over a decade to fix, hardly gaudy numbers. It's still full of glitches, in tag matches while performing a move in the corner if you're near the illegal partner, they will move off of the apron. Every time. The referee is stupid and will often refuse to count for no reason at all and opponents are the reverse of last year and are now too tough to put down. It's now a regular thing to see the likes of Husky Harris kick out of a finishing move. Hardly realistic and super annoying. Finally, with the advent of WWE PG on television that's what we're now experiencing in game. The effect of blood has been watered down a lot, making the effect borderline useless. In cage matches, Hell in a Cell matches and "Extreme Rules" contests this made a difference giving the matches an extra layer. What we now get is WWE's censorship with the authorisation ultimately coming from the WWE and not THQ. For all those "Attitude era" guys like myself this sucks harder than John Cena being gifted another WWE Championship run.
Graphics 8 Serviceable and the crowd does look better and more captivated this year.
Sound 8 Decent commentary and superstar voice overs. Massive improvement in the menu music with no more grating entrance themes.
Gameplay 8 The all new limb targeting system is an excellent inclusion. The "Breaking Point" submission system with crawling to the ropes is a nice touch too. In conclusion the gameplay is solid, as always.
Lifespan 9 Whilst at the time of writing the online experience is far from perfect, the Universe Mode has been upgraded in a big way and is sure to keep you interested as well as the improved RTWM.
WWE 12, ultimately is the same old story much like current WWE programming. There are improvements and it is a better game than last year's version. However, the problems that persist are hard to overlook and must be overcome if WWE games are ever going to make it into elite status. 8/10.
A last piece of advice would be to buy the regular WWE 12 at a much better price. The Rock is ace but he isn't worth £20.