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R.D. Lee
The Ratings Are In - RDLee's WWE '12 Review
By RDLee
Feb 9, 2012 - 2:17 PM

Order WWE 12 for XBox 360, PS3, and Other Consoles!

Howdy, World Wrestling Insanity gamers. WWE '12 has been out for a couple of months now and is still kicking ass in the sales department last I checked. The review is a little on the late side this year but I wanted to wait until all of the DLC and patches came out before I gave my final thoughts on the product.

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Big thanks to THQ Tank ( www.twitter.com/THQ_Tank) & Marcus Stephenson ( www.twitter.com/stephensonmc) for the work they did on WWE '12. They are really good dudes so be sure to follow them.

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(Please note: This review is for the Xbox 360 version of the game but also applies to the Playstation 3 version as well since they are completely identical for the most part.) So, without any further adu, here we go...

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Roster

One of my favorite things about being a WWE video game fan is that every year they do the annual roster reveal. I always keep my fingers crossed about who I hope will make the cut. This year, WWE '12 blew me away once again. With the exception of a few of the lower card talent like Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins, who are rarely on television to begin with, nearly every person currently active on the roster is present and accounted for.

With over 70 characters to choose from on disc including familiar faces like John Cena and The Undertaker, first timers like Alberto Del Rio and Sin Cara, and legends like Brock Lesnar and Stone Cold, WWE '12 has you set with one of the best dream rosters ever found in a wrestling game.

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DLC

THQ pulled out all the stops this year with it's DLC (downloadable content) offerings. They brought back last year's popular season pass idea where you can save money by pre-ordering/paying off all future DLC for one low price on the PSN Store and the Xbox Live Marketplace.

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First, they offered up DLC pack 1 on launch week, which included playable characters Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Shawn Michaels and Jerry The King Lawler along with some alternate attires for Edge and Christian.

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Second, DLC pack 2 dropped some new playable Divas in the mix including Trish Stratus (with her current brown haired look), The Bella Twins, Vickie Guerrero and Kharma. And as a bonus, Alicia Fox was also released for free.

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Lastly, the latest and last DLC pack number 3 came out a few weeks ago and truly saved the best for last in my opinion as we finally got to add the "Macho Man" Randy Savage to our roster. Along with Mick Foley and Batista I found this DLC offering to be a big achievement for THQ as the fans have been wishing for Savage to make an appearance in the yearly Smackdown v.s. Raw franchise for a long time now.

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Also released for free the same day as the DLC pack 3 was Brodus Clay (pre-Funkasaurus) and an old school Masked Kane alternate attire as "make good" DLC for online server issues since launch. (More on the "make good" situation later) 

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Gameplay

 

WWE '12 featured a number of changes this year with the gameplay. Most good, some a little odd, and one thing that I found flat out bad. The first thing I will applaud is the new control scheme. They ditched the analog features of previous years for grappling and went back to a traditional, more natural face button selection option. I liked this change as it just feels right after getting used to it once again. The analog sticks are still put to use though by allowing you to adjust which situation you choose to be in while locked up in a grapple.

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I'm not too thrilled with them taking out some of the physics features introduced last year. When playing a match involving weapons now it just feels like a step back. In Smackdown v.s. Raw 2011 you could tip someone off a ladder and depending when it was positioned it would cause the opponent to crash on the ropes just like in real life. This is a minor complaint but still I felt a little disappointed when discovering the limitations in comparision to last year's game.

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One new highlight of gameplay improvements for WWE '12 is the introduction of breaking moves up in multi-man matches. In previous installments there was nothing you could do to stop a guy from doing a move once it's in progress but this year is different. There is a window of opportunity to which you can attack and break up any move or submission hold before it completes it's animation. I love this new feature and hope that they continue to improve it over the next several years. It has a lot of potential, especially in specialty matches.

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Another improvement for WWE '12 is the A.I. difficulty. Playing the game on Legend difficulty in previous games wasn't too hard a task to pull off for most gamers. But this year they really turned up the heat. Now it takes a bit of skill to defeat your opponent which is a nice change of pace. I've seen other reviews from websites like Gamespot who complain about the computer being "overaggressive" which is completely exaggerated. If you suck at the game, then turn the difficulty on easy until you get better, it's as simple as that. Of course the A.I. will be more aggressive if you play on the higher difficulties. I am good at the game so naturally I am having a blast losing a match or two here or there instead of straight up dominating every bout.

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Also in WWE '12 they added the ability to make a comeback in a match for certain guys. For example, if you play as John Cena and get your ass handed to you for the entire match you will be able to activate a one time use comeback move where you will go through 3 real time button sequences to execute some of his signature moves in order to gain a last minute finisher. Plus, you can store finishing moves again this year so that's a major plus for players who like to pull them out of thin air for some added drama.

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Road to Wrestlemania this year was a nice surprise. I really loved the thoughts put into the stories and didn't mind not being able to complete the whole match due to the real-time button sequence mid-way through that jumps to a cutscene. It makes sense to me why they did this. Because in real life, WWE rarely has a match without something wacky going on in or outside the ring. Interference, count outs, DQs, or whatever happen all the time so I welcome this change in story mode.

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Universe mode also made some improvements with the latest patch allowing users to create their own all CAW roster which is something requested by the fans last year when Universe was introduced. Plus, add in being able to create your own shows entirely, random injuries, new cutscenes and match interference and you should be pleased with the mode.

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Graphics/Sound

I've never been one to complain about the graphics of THQ's WWE titles and this year is no different. The graphics are amazing once again. Almost every character model is accurate and looks photo realistic. There are a couple guys like Booker T, who just looks odd due to them giving his skin tone the wrong color but other than a few minor complaints everything looks great. The arenas come to life more this year than ever before thanks to the inclusion of the side, top minitrons and brand new crowd chants throughout the matches for each character.

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The sound, however, is a different story. The commentary is stale at this point in the franchise and still recycles stuff from years ago. For WWE '13 I hope they start from the ground up and record new material. Often during a match you'll hear the same thing two or three times and on occasion you'll even hear Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler make mistakes and reference things not to do with the current match. Also, there was a glitch in some folks copies where it would say "Commentary Placeholder" instead of the announcer's voices. Strange but can be overlooked since it's rare. Hopefully next year they also include more announcers like Josh Matthews and even Booker T from Smackdown to freshen up the sound a little. Again, small complaints but nothing gamebreaking in this catagory.

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Online

This is where the major issues come into play that keep WWE '12 from reaching it's true potential. Now, as of this writing, there have been several fixes made to the server to help fix the none stop issues Community Creations have suffered since the launch of the game back in November. I held off on writing my review until the patch came out with DLC 3 because I wanted to not be so negative in the part of the review if I could.

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The bottom line is that THQ really screwed up bad on the online funtionality of WWE '12. It seems like the paying customers ended up being the testers of the server and in the end this will hurt them going forward with the franchise. Not being able to play with your friends or being able to download from the user uploaded content really rubbed people the wrong way these past couple of months. To be fair, THQ has been letting us know constantly they are sorry and will make no excuses for this monumental disaster. And they have been working day and night since the game released to fix the issue.

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It's slightly better now compared to a month ago but still, one has to hope and wonder if it will ever run completely smooth like it should be. The "make good" DLC I mentioned above being the old school Masked Kane was a freebie that was included after the development cycle was over so we should be happy we got something for these problems. Most companies wouldn't have given us anything but a pat on the back and a sorry. On the bright side, THQ vowed not to make the same mistakes for UFC Undisputed 3 and put out a online beta late last year to test and fix everything they could before the game launches on Valentine's Day this Feburary. I have a feeling that this whole ordeal will work itself out eventually and I wish it wouldn't have caused some gamers to write off buying WWE '13 completely. Afterall, this is the first year THQ had their own dedicated servers so cut them some slack. They did this for our own longterm good.

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Final Thoughts

What can I say, I'm a hardcore gamer who is also a hardcore wrestling fan. That being said, it's obvious that I'm going to love the WWE games no matter what each year despite their shortcomings. WWE '12 is another step in the right direction for THQ's overall legacy with the WWE video game franchise. Sure, there are things like the server issues that really pissed me and many others off but if you take into consideration the big improvements in Universe mode it almost cancels out the negativity of the problems online for someone like me who tends to play alone more often than not.

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There is so much content in this game that it is worth it alone if you enjoy creation and custom content. Name another game where you can create a player, give him custom music, custom videos, custom moves, and custom logos. Then create a custom arena and custom shows to put him on. That's right, you can't.

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If I had to give WWE '12 a rating out of 10, I would give it a solid 8, and it would have been higher if the online issues had not been as bad as they ended up being. I realize that most people would score it even lower than that but again, I am not one to play online all the time and when I use Community Creations it works fine for me half of the time. I was able to download what I wanted without much hassle. Maybe I'm just really lucky, huh? Anyway, I'm looking forward to WWE '13 and can't wait to see what the future holds for one of my favorite yearly franchises out there.

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If you made it this far, I appreciate it, I hope you enjoyed my opinions. Please be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of WWE '12. Whether it's good, bad or ugly, I would love to hear your feedback.    

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Be on the lookout in the near future for my next review which is for THQ's latest game, UFC Undisputed 3. Again, thank you for reading, take care and as always, Stay Classy! -RDLee- ( www.twitter.com/RDLee)



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