WWE '12 Review


If yaaaaa smeeeeell….

Much like when the SmackDown series became SmackDown vs Raw, WWE ’12 isn’t a complete reboot of the series, but more of a natural progression, and the next logical step in the evolution of a very popular franchise. Is it a championship contender, or just another wannabe? Read on to find out.

Game: WWE ’12
Developer: Yuke’s
Publisher: THQ
Reviewed on:


WWE 12 is arguably the best looking wrestling game to date. The character models are highly detailed and look just like their real life counterparts, which means Heath Slater really does really look a lot like the Wendy’s girl.

But it isn’t just the wrestlers that look great, the arenas and environments look fantastic too with the likes of the Money In The Bank PPV arena finally get the right and proper treatment in game as opposed to be missing all entirely like last year. The Over The Limit arena is still in the game, but there isn’t really too much wrong with having an extra PPV arena.

The game is also given a collection of WCW arenas thanks to Road To WrestleMania stories this year and while they look good, I still feel WWE Games and THQ should have gone the full hog with it; and added the steel guard rail barricades instead of the padded modern WWE ones and moved the announce table to near the stage but that won’t happen this year – as you’ve guessed I’m a stickler for detail when it comes to arenas.

Another part of the game that got a significant upgrade is the title belts; whilst for some it’s a relatively minor issue, but for me it adds even more to authentic and realistic representation of the WWE. The titles are now more realistically scaled and not gaudy and cartoonish as they had done in previous iterations.

The presentation in WWE 12 is very, very good. THQ and WWE Games worked exclusively with WWE camera people to get authentic camera angles into the game ala Madden NFL 12. The game really does look a lot like WWE programming, which is an achievement in itself.

In-game, there is authentic TV presentation, which really adds that bit extra to the opening of shows like Raw, SmackDown and SuperStars as well as PPVs, especially during Road To WrestleMania and in Universe mode.

There are even authentic ring introductions to WWE and World Heavyweight title matches. There is catch a though, it’s only for singles matches for those respective titles. For me, if you’re going to bother with proper introductions for the major titles to give them that big match feel, you might as well do it for every title and every match type that features a title defense. Aside from that though, presentation throughout the game is solid.


WWE 12 sounds excellent. The crowd noise really is a true indicator as to whether or not the crowd are enjoying the match and they emphatically boo the wrestlers they hate and cheer the wrestlers they love.

Although a few of the wrestler themes in the game were quickly made redundant to changes on actual WWE programming (Daniel Bryan, Kevin Nash, Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes immediately spring to mind) the majority of themes are current and up to date. CM Punk has Living Color’s Cult of Personality as his entrance theme and you’re still able to give the superstars of the WWE custom themes if you really want to keep everything current.

Commentary is pretty much the same, but in this case I let the game have a bit of a pass. The problem with yearly sports titles (as fans of NBA 2K, Madden, FIFA and PES know all too well) is that it’s pretty difficult to add a load of new commentary when the basics of the game will always remain the same. To their credit there are couple of new lines sprinkled in here and there, but it’s nothing really noteworthy.

Annoyingly though, some moves get called the wrong names (an example of this is a single leg take down that transitions into a jumping knee drop to the leg is called a neck breaker) and while it isn’t game breaking it damn sure is annoying.

Another thing that annoys me is just how Jerry “The King” Lawler or Michael Cole or both could continue to commentate when either one of them or both are featured in a match. Given it’s a physical impossibility, some sort of alternative should have been presented. The WWE has other announcers on their shows and therefore they should also feature in the game, even if it is just to cover The King or Michael Cole when they are in the ring.


WWE ’12 is so much fun to play, I really can’t say that enough. The AI has been put through its paces and really has come back bigger, badder and better for WWE ’12. Normal difficulty feels like it will be a enough of a challenge for when you’re first starting your journey on the game’s learning curve, hard and legend difficulty feel like they will continue to offer a stern to test to the game’s most seasoned veterans.

Even better still, is that when you delve under the hood of the game, you will find that the AI is even more customisable; allowing you to tweak things like reversal rates, finisher reversal rates and finisher strength just to name a few – so if you take the time, you can really tweak your game to exactly how you want it to play. Although it has to be said, the default difficulty levels aren’t exactly shabby either.

Whilst some fans will long for the familiar controls of SmackDown vs Raw 2011, the new, simpler control system in WWE ’12 (which is fondly reminiscent of the control systems from great wrestling games such as WWF No Mercy and SmackDown: Here Comes The Pain) will take time for veterans of the SmackDown vs Raw series to adjust to. However, if you were good at WWF No Mercy, WWF WrestleMania 2000, WCW vs nWo World Tour or WCW vs nWo Revenge like I was, you’ll quickly feel right at home.

Although I have a few gripes with the control system for the difficulty in distinguishing between the two running strikes and running grapple moves, it may just be that I need more time to get the finer points of the game’s controls down pat. Everything about controlling your wrestler and performing your moves feels simpler, quicker and more fluid.

Matches themselves have more realistic pacing about them in WWE ’12. Matches start of at a much faster pace before gradually degenerating to something significantly slower as the damage accumulated throughout the match really plays a telling role as the match continues on.

For example, targeting the head will mean longer stun states, working either of your opponent’s arms means it will be more difficult for opponents to block strikes and working the legs mean that opponents won’t be able to run for long which means you can really strategise and gameplan for each match and match type.

In addition to specific moves which work each area of the body (legs, arms, head and torso) there is also the Predator Technology, which allows you to really hone in on the legs, arms and head with some vicious strikes and grapples.

The game itself has three main game modes: Play, Road To WrestleMania and Universe. Play features all the match types that the game has to offer which can be played at any time. You can also choose to have championship matches specifically for the Play mode simply by selecting a champion and opting to make the match a title match.

Road To WrestleMania has been significantly revamped in WWE ’12 and now consists of three main stories which each span 18 months or more, which is a marked improvement from the multiple stories that only lasted a few months in previous versions of the SmackDown vs Raw series. The three stories (Villain (featuring Sheamus), Outsider (featuring Triple H) and Hero (featuring your created wrestler ‘Jacob Cass’) were all written along with actual WWE writers and the storylines are engaging and compelling; some would argue even better than what’s currently on WWE programming and I’d be hard pressed not to agree.

Having said that due to Road To WrestleMania’s objective based nature (which also harks back to WWF No Mercy and WWF WrestleMania 2000) does detract away from the actual wrestling and the pre-determined cut scenes can often lead to you feeling like all of your efforts were in vain (especially when they mean that you’re a part of a losing effort) but I think it’s implemented in the right way.

The only improvement would be to make the user perform the specific move required to activate the cut scenes, but it’s a step in the right direction. One problem with the Road to WrestleMania objectives is the way they are worded, which isn’t clear enough for my taste as I often found confused as to exactly what I had to do.

Universe mode is where the game really gets interesting for me. It’s a mode that I can see myself playing all the way up until the release of WWE 13 because it is so expansive. The mode creates and plays out its own storylines and is for all intents and purposes, endless. There is also the ability to make title matches whenever you see fit, which is a welcome change from SmackDown vs Raw 2011. Literally hours and hours of fun are to be had with this mode because of its truly unpredictable nature.

In case you were wondering if I’d forgotten about the online aspects of this game, I haven’t. Although I don’t normally play wrestling games online, for the purposes of this review I knew I would have to give it a go. Unfortunately, when I did attempt to find a match to play online, I simply wasn’t able to and even trying to get access to the much heralded and much maligned Community Creations proved to be a long series of trial and error with the servers being unavailable, so there was no way of downloading any wrestlers, arenas, movesets, created finishers or logos created by fellow WWE ’12 gamers.

This is predominantly because THQ has decided to move all online content to their own servers this year and are still working out ongoing teething issues. While I do have some sympathy for THQ, online is a huge part of the game for many of the franchise’s fans and the fact that this hasn’t been working well or consisitently since release hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Given all the great in WWE 12’s gameplay there is also a lot of bad. WWE ’12 has a lot of teething problems. There is a bug that was dismissed during a livestream with IGN as only being in a pre-final release which has also surfaced in the shipped version of the game. Road To WrestleMania also has its own issues which prove to be very, very frustrating.

There are also problems with the character models and the physics engine which cause the models to morph strangely, with limbs extending much like a Stretch Armstrong doll.  Although these instances can be few are far between, they often require a system restart to avert in future sessions. Other notable bugs are the ‘irish whip of doom’ in a Hell in a Cell match, which inexplicably sends a character model outside of the cell, without breaking the cell. The result is one character model stranded inside the cell, while the other is stranded outside.


The creation suite in WWE ’12 is comprehensive, and then some.  Create-A-Wrestler, Create-A-Finisher, Create-An-Entrance and Create-A-Moveset all make a welcomed return from SmackDown vs Raw 2011. Create-An-Entrance Movie has been given a significant upgrade – the process is streamlined and simplified and although you get quite a few options, you’re still left with a generic looking entrance video which is a real shame. The premise of this very good however and I hope that this is something that is built upon in future games.

Something that’s completely new this year is Create-an-Arena mode. Just like it says on the tin, it allows you to create your own arena, customizing everything from the canvas to the aprons to the ropes and even the floor. Needless to say I’ll be collaborating with Adam Neaves and Daniel Reilly to create the official Next-Gen Gaming Blog arena for you all to enjoy.

This mode is a huge hit as it allows you to create arenas not in the game and you can really create some fantastic looking arenas (I’ve seen some great 80’s WWE arenas and even a Spongebob Squarepants one). The mode is also a huge miss however due to the lack of customization options for the announce table and a complete inability to customize the staging; but THQ have given themselves a solid base to build from for next year’s game.

Also new this year is ring call names, which means your created wrestlers can be introduced just like their in-game counterparts. While this is a great idea, its execution isn’t excellent. While THQ do provide a long list of parts to be used in a ring call name, they are poorly thought out.  I realise THQ are trying to avoid a ton of potential law suits by not adding specific words as ring call name options but the fact that users have to rely on well thought out homonymns and hoping the entrance music hides its inaccuracy to get a half way decent ring call name doesn’t go unnoticed. That’s not the only issue with the ring call names either, it’s the way they are read by the ring announcer too. The ring announcer goes from indifference to surprise as he reads out a longer created call name and it all just sounds disjointed. But again, THQ have something to build on for next year.


WWE ’12 has legs, there’s no doubt about it. The Road To WrestleMania modes have been beefed up and although most players will probably only play through each story once, but personally I think they are all worth another play through some time down the line on a higher difficulty as the stories are that good.

The AI has been beefed up enough from SmackDown vs Raw 2011 to make the game challenging for both the casual and the hardcore wrestling video game fans to last most of the year. Where WWE 12 really gets its longevity is in Universe mode. The mode has no ‘ending’ like the Road To WrestleMania stories, it begins and ends when you want it to. It is unpredictable and expansive as you can add and remove superstars from your universe whenever you wish. Then, when you factor in the ability to add several created wrestlers to the universe along with custom TV shows and PPVs, your universe really does become just that, 100% yours.

With more DLC to come, WWE ’12 really is a game you can play all the way through to the release of WWE ’13.


Despite the extremely disappointing bugs and the varied online experience (which THQ and WWE Games have been working on since the game’s release) WWE ’12 is still a very good game, and is arguably the best wrestling game since SmackDown: Here Comes The Pain. The revamped Road To WrestleMania is enjoyable and Universe mode will keep fans interested up until WWE ’13.


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