by Nevs Coleman

WWE 12

 

With WWE 13 not too far away and looking a bit spiffy, I was inspired to revisit WWE 12,. I initially played it just after Xmas. To be honest, I was underwhelmed, the darker look, the lack of star power, plus the fact that I wasn’t on Xbox Live meant I had to plough my way through the terrible Road To Wrestlemania mode. In previous incarnations of the WWE gaming franchise, you got to play through stories as a variety of characters. In 12 (as we’ll refer to it from now on.) You get one very, very long story that has a lot of backstage fighting (Again, not nearly as fun as it used to be.) and oddly,  in a year that saw the rise of C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, Albert Del Rio and R-Truth, rather a lot of Triple H and Kevin Nash talking. I mean, A LOT.  After getting as many achievements as I could from it, I traded it in. no big.

But then, I managed to get my Xbox back online and I got to thinking, what was i missing? Sure, the idea of playing a WWE game without the likes of Shawn Michaels, The Rock or Chris Jericho didn’t sound like a great plan, but well, I could always download them…and then I got thinking. I popped onto a certain onlne retailer and started picking up WWE and ECW soundtracks super cheap and picked up a new copy of 12

So, biggest change, beyond the graphical overhaul is the control system. Gone is the double stick system in lieu of the face buttons. A nice touch is the focussed attack, which allows some degree of strategy. Simply slapping on the Ankle Lock  on a downed opponent won’t do too much else you’ve worked that leg 1st. Submissions are now achieved via  the new Breaking Point system, which is an awesome button mash. The pin is revised to a mini game that seems simple (Hit the button at the right time to kick out) but as the match goes on, it becomes more difficult to get your shoulders up. Unless you get the Wrestlemania edition, you’ll start playing and notice a serious lack of star power going on. Sure, Orton. Edge, Miz, Punk, HHH et al are there, but you’ve seen the trailers. You want to play as Austin, Lesnar, McMahon, etc. so, with years of experience under your belt, you’ll start off the Road To Wrestlemania. Looking forward to the twists and turns of a new storyline. One word for you: DON’T.

I’ve never played a worse story mode in my life. Between the long load times, the endless backstage fighting, the repetition of having to play as the same character, rigid on rails story and having to listen to Nash & Hunter blather at each other for ages, you’ll be trying to skip through as fast as possible. Unless you’re an a achievement nut, do yourself a favour and just buy the all unlockables from the WWE shop in-game. For 80 MS Points, you’ll get Austin, Lesnar, Sin Cara, The L..O.D, Demolition, Arn Anderson, Goldust, Eddie Guerrero, Kevin Nash,  a whole bunch of arenas, alternate costumes and even HHH’s alternate theme music ‘King Of Kings; in the bargain. Which is the last time  12 can have the word ‘Bargain’ attached to it.

If you want to get the best out of 12, Skip the season pass altogether and also, tempting as it may be, don’t pick up your favourites from the character downloads. Instead, get the online pass. start making your user playlists and download away. You’ve got fifty slots to fill up with your chosen roster. While the official HBK, Rock, etc come with one attire, most  of the Community Creation versions have 3 or 4. Combine that with your uploaded theme tunes and you’re essentially paying 80 MSP to get…the entrance video.

Think about this. For the price of The Bella Twins, you could download all the cool stuff that makes up the Rage: Anarchy Edition. The cost of The Rock, Kane, Shawn Michaels,Trish Stratus, Batista  and the commentary team of Jim Ross & Michael Cole as playable characters would also buy you the ‘Cold Stream’ DLC for Left4Dead 2, which is essentially ALL the maps from the 1st Left4Dead (including the bonus levels.) and a new level. Or, again, you can go to The Community Creation area and download all these guys with extra costumes for nothing.

More exciting than Vickie Guerrero..

See, as a straight ‘Pop into the Xbox 360, play for a bit’, ’12’ is a just a bit of an upgrade from Smackdown Vs Raw 2011, but when you start playing about with it online, it becomes as good as your memory is of wrestling. If you hate the current American sports entertainment world, you can boot all the in-game wrestlers off the roster and replace them with Luchadors from Mexico or the hardcore Japanese wrestlers from IWGP. Maybe you’re more inclined towards the brutal days of ECW. You want to recreate the Three Way Dance between Terry Funk, Sabu and Shane Douglas or the awesome series between Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn? Perhaps it’s all got a bit bloody for you, and you want to go back to the cartoon days of The Honky Tonk Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and  Andre The Giant in the Old School Saturday Night Main Event arena. Warrior vs Hogan at Wrestlemania 6? Bret Hart vs Owen Hart at Summerslam 1994? Bobby Roode vs Austin Aries at Impact Wrestling’s Bound for Glory Pay-Per-View? Brock Lesnar in his new advertising gear accompanied by Paul Heyman at Summerslam 2012? No problem.

All of these possibilities are covered in the incredibly extensive editing options. 12 allows you to create or download Arenas, Rings, turnbuckles, entrances, moves. Moreover, the  12 online community is incredibly on the pulse of what’s happening in real life. If Samoa Joe debuted with a different name and move-set on the next edition of Monday Night Raw, you can bet by the time you get out of bed Tuesday morning, there’ll be 10-12  uploads of the new Joe with modified ring entrance and all of his signature moves, taunts and finishers ready to play. Sadly, this also means that it’s a lot easier to find Snooki or Pee Wee Herman than it is a decent Bob Backlund or New Jack.

In fact, if there’s one drawback to 12, it’s that if, like me, you’re a student of wrestling history, the 50 slots in your save file simply aren’t enough. Tough decisions need to be made. It would be nice to have Jim Neidhart to complete your Hart Foundation stable, but how often will you play as him beyond that? Especially when someone’s just uploaded a sweet looking Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts you can have feud with Randy Savage in WWE Universe mode…

Ah, Yes. WWE Universe mode. Much the same set up as Smackdown vs Raw 2011, but with intelligent upgrades, like being able to have a title match at anytime, Draft mode, adjustable shows. Playing matches in Universe mode adds a degree of random possibilities. You might just have the match you booked, or a run-in could occur, maybe you’ll struggle to get the win and the match will be restarted. Do enough damage and you could put your opponent out of action, which means if it’s close enough to the Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania, they won’t be able to take part and lose serious momentum. The more thought you put into your Universe, the more you’re going to get.

Seriously, this is some dedication right here.

Bad stuff? Not a lot. Obviously Road to Wrestlemania needs a total overhaul. From what I’ve seen, WWE 13 is going to remedy that. There are serious glitches that can  happen in a match, like characters warping across the ring or wrestlers being eliminated during the Royal Rumble and then floating ten feet high in space while going through their exit animations Loading time from match selection to actually playing can take a while, especially as the crowd sequences can lag terribly. On a personal note, I would have like to have seen the Divas (Sigh, At least TNA call them Knockouts…) get more exposure in Storyline mode . Somewhere along the line, The Triple Threat Tag-Team match has fallen by the wayside, meaning those of you wanting to recreate the epic TLC match from Wrestlemania 2000 with The Hardy Boyz, The Dudleys and Edge & Christian will be disappointed. Hopefully the DLC will be a bit less stingy this year.If we are paying for extra characters, at least give them more than one costume

Last complaint (Honest….) The Commentary. Lazy. Dull. Uninspired. Given how many moves there are in the game, it would be nice if the team of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler would bother to call them (Although that’s a real life problem, too, these days.) You will never hear the words ‘Asai Moonsault.’ whilst playing 12.  Cole asks Jerry a mulitude of questions such as ‘What should The Rock do in this match?’ or some such and Lawler never actually answers any question. Ever. A number of gags are started but don’t reach their punchline. Possible solution? Well, at time of writing, The WWE is on friendly terms with Jim Ross, C.M . Punk , Joey Styles, Booker T, Jesse Ventura, Mick Foley, John Bradshaw Layfield, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Heyman. All men who’ve spent a great deal of time calling matches and could provide a decent alternative to the tired duo of Cole and Lawler. Personally, having gone through a lot of tapes to research this, it strikes me that Lawler’s a lot better when he’s got anyone else to play off besides Cole. By the way, is there anyone reading this who wouldn’t mark out for a bonus commentary track by Elvira, reprising her role as Special Guest at Wrestlemania 2?

The words you’re looking for are ‘Any Excuse.’

Personally speaking, I want to see the introduction of the fabled Evening Gown match. Just to revisit this five-star technical wrestling classic….

On the whole, if you’re willing to put the time in, you can spruce 12 from something a bit lacking in Pizzazz to a full on time-spanning spectacle. Now that we’re rapidly approaching the release of WWE 13, you should be able to find WWE 12 pretty cheap. A quick search has it for around the £20 mark. Right now, THQ has set the bar quite high, and I for one would like to see TNA hire Aki (Responsible for the classic WWF No Mercy for N64.) take the challenge up and do something with their franchise, Because sadly, as in the real world, there’s no real competition…

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