|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii|
|Dev: Yuke's Media Creations|
|Release: November 22, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The WWE franchise has continuously evolved over the last ten years. What was once just a simplistic formula that involved putting wrestler-shaped avatars in a ring and smashing buttons has evolved into a living, breathing universe filled with complex battle systems, deep creations tools, and a thriving online community. However, the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series was ready for retirement, and many fans (myself not included) felt the series was losing its identity in the details. In order to reinvigorate the series, the game was rebranded as just WWE '12, and promised to focus more on what the series was about initially: the fighting. But if you look at the game as a whole, I doubt you would find a whole lot to separate it from the pack of wrestling games that have been released in recent years.
The biggest change for WWE '12 is the fighting system. Previous games went for hardcore simulation, which was fun to play around with but became a little bit cumbersome as the years wore on. The approach in WWE '12 is more arcade-friendly and rewards players of all skill levels. It isn't hard to get your head around, and you'll only need a few minutes with the tutorial to get the hang of it. Simple grapples, holds, and strikes are easy to perform, and the complex button combinations that you may remember from games past have been completely wiped away.
While this may sound a little monotonous, the good news is that the battle system evolves as you play. As you beat up your opponent, you'll gain access to more powerful moves, including your wrestler's finishing move. The game also has a very detailed reversal system that lets those with quick reflexes get out of even the direst of situations. The battle system is a lot more balanced this time around, and doesn't penalize gamers who are not ready to memorize a book full of controls.
However, the controls are pretty much the only thing that has changed. WWE Universe mode is almost completely unchanged from last year, which is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, I like that you can customize this mode and make the game your own. On the other, however, I would have liked to see a bit more variety here, since WWE '12 is supposed to be a complete reinvention of the series rather than just a minor facelift.
The Road to Wrestlemania mode is a bit better this time around, and it isn't as linear as it has been in years past. Instead, it feels like a more plot-driven Universe mode, which is a good thing. The Road to Wrestlemania also lets you use your own character during its final act, so make sure you put the finishing touches on your custom fighter before getting too deep into this mode.
And speaking of customization, the tools for creation are just as robust here as they've always been. Fighters, moves, film reels, and even storylines can all be created and shared online, which is great for longtime followers of the series. Though there are some notable additions to each mode, there's nothing game-changing here. Not that there really needed to be, of course.
Online modes in WWE '12 are also pretty standard. There is a huge hub where fans can share their characters, stories, moves, and other user-created content. If you actually want to jump into the ring, you can either pick up a quick one-on-one match or participate in a long arcade-style tournament with multiple players. You can also play in several different types of online matches, customizing your ring, brand, and available roster, which makes the online experience that much more customizable and immersive.