I just got back from an, as The Miz would say, AWESOME weekend with THQ and the WWE. If you read my impressions from the previous community event, then you know I’ve been very impressed at an early stage with WWE 12. That being said, the updates that have been made in the last two months are quite staggering.
The New Reveals
WWE 12 hype train is full steam ahead. The roster was revealed at Fan Axxess on Saturday. There are still 14 DLC spots to be announced as well, and personally, I feel it’s the best roster in a wrestling game to date.
This will be the first time Demolition has been in a game since Wrestlefest in the arcades in the early 90s. I got to play as them, and they are pretty much perfect in the game. Correct entrance (with music), and their finisher is spot on. Another fantastic addition is Sin Cara. Before you ask, yes he has the blue light during his matches. His finisher is the top rope C4 as well. I also know the next question you are going to ask, and the answer is that he does not botch moves in the game. For those asking, CM Punk has Cult of Personality as his entrance theme, and R-Truth has no music and talks to himself. (Of course, Truth was given music last night on Raw, but it would be next to impossible for a developer to keep up with this stuff.)
The mix of legends (especially some of the WCW greats) gives this game a grander scale to it than in years past. You have the WWE guys who should be there, but guys like Arn Anderson, Booker T, Kevin Nash (especially now) and The Road Warriors just give it that big-time legend feel to it. Mix in the create-a-wrestler elements (and ability to download guys from the web), and it really means you can create a giant roster in your game.
Create an Arena was also introduced this weekend. I can’t properly convey my excitement for this mode, but it’s been one of my favorite additions since we first heard about it. Want a TNA ring, ROH ring or even say an AWA ring? Sure, go ahead and make it. Edit the railings, ring rope colors, turnbuckle pads, announce booth, even the animation wrap around the sides of the arena. The only thing that can't be edited is the stage. The community folks at the event all expressed our desire to have this be in next year’s iteration, so hopefully it makes the cut.
The arenas are then fully sharable on WWE 12’s servers like the CAWs, create a story and so on. So within no time after the release of the game, you’ll have your pick of rings to choose from, which will just deepen the experience.
So how does it play? Well, the short answer is it feels very good. Two months of additional gameplay tuning have given the game a more polished feel (considering we’re still three months out from release). The game already feels better than last year’s game, and the game just flows this year. I’ve said it before, but it has to be restated, the game plays like a wrestling game rather than a fighting game.
Will there be instances where you have to hit two or three finishers to pin someone? Sure, and I know some in the community will hate that, but have you not seen matches on TV that have the same outcome? There will also be plenty of matches where you only need one finisher, and depending on how you play, most of your matches will probably end after a single finisher.
To explain further, I play, I guess you would say, sim style. I build up my moves, hit my signature, go into my wake up taunt, and then I hit my finisher. Most of my matches end there. If you go into match guns blazing, taunt, taunt, taunt and then get a finisher, most of the time that won’t end the match. It goes like this for me: Will you play WWE 12 as the sim guys play Madden, or will you play it where you are dropping back 20 yards with Michael Vick and running around every play.
A new addition to the gameplay includes a meter for certain guys who are resilient (John Cena, Undertaker, etc.). So if you are hit with a finisher and pinned, you can tap LB (on 360) and your pin meter window grows bigger, allowing for a kickout even after a big-time finisher has been used on you. This can only be used once a match, so be careful when you use it -- no reason to use it on an early pin attempt. The pin meter is still one of my favorite additions as it’s not a button mash, holding down A to release in the sweet spot feels right. It almost looks like a swing meter from Tiger or the field-goal meter from Madden. Another addition is tapping LB when near the ropes to quickly sneak out as a heel. You can only do this three times a match now, so they must be used wisely.
A targeting meter has been added for the head, limb and leg strikes, which makes it easier to decide where to attack during those grapples. It seemed like every match was booked in a way to be a good match. Some may not like that, but I did. It felt like the matches were telling a story. The out of the box difficulty was pretty good, not overbearing and not easy as pie like last year. The AI seemed smarter and would go towards your weaknesses. I won most of my matches I played, but felt all of them were good matches and a blast to play.
There’s also the comeback feature for someone like Cena. If you’re Cena and getting beat down, near the end you have one shot to perform a comeback. Pressing a corresponding random button initiates it, and then you follow the on-screen prompts to complete it. If you do, you earn a finisher and basically come back from the dead, as we’ve seen Cena do before. Not everyone has these additions, as you’re not going to see Drew McIntyre pulling it off, but the ones who do make sense.
One other announcement from the event was that a collector’s edition of the game is coming out, featuring either The Rock or John Cena. Voting is underway at the Facebook page for WWE 12, and the winner’s version will be released along with the non-collector’s edition on 11/22. Details of what the CE will contain, as well as pricing, will be announced after the winning version is decided.
There are still a bunch of other features, modes and so forth that have yet to be announced, but they will be in the coming months before the release of the game. WWE, and wrestling gaming fans in general, have a big reason to be excited this November. WWE video games are back, and WWE 12 is making that happen with a vengeance.