E3: WWE 12 Hands on Preview

A new name after 12 years but does it feel like a new game ?

Lets just face it, over the years the core WWE game franchise over the years has become somewhat stale or complacent. While the game has had constant improvements and  new gameplay additions, this is in my opinion the biggest step since Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth to Here Comes The Pain. Why I use the comparison, is because like HCTP , gameplay is the number one focus. THQ has assured me that everyone at the company has put forth a ton of effort to make gameplay the number one priority of WWE ’12.

Lets talk controls.  While the stick controls worked well enough, most peoples instinct is to hit the face buttons. In WWE ’12 THQ has gone back to the face buttons, which flows very well.  Let me  break it down…

LStick – Move
Dpad Up – Wake Up Taunt
RStick – Change Grapple Position
A/X – Grapple
B – Pin/Run
Y – Sigs/Finishers/Dramatic Comeback
X – Strike (weak/strong)
LB – Action
RB- Limb Modifier
RT – Counter
LT – Run / check adrenaline

When striking…Much like WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, you have the option to do four different directional weak strikes and two different strong strikes. As far as grappling goes you get four groggy grapples that are your trademark moves that lead up to your signature and finishing moves.

The groggy grapples can be performed from pickups, brawler combos, certain weak grapples, and clotheslines into the corner. You get four weak strikes by hitting the a / x button + left stick. Overall the controls felt really good and as a huge AKI fan, this system made me quite happy. Also if you want to use the right stick to grapple, you can do so by reverting the control scheme in the options menu. Although I was unable to take a look at how the right stick operated as the options in the E3 demo were rather limited.

There is also a great addition this year called limb targeting. Limb targeting works by doing a standard grapple then holding the RB / R1 button along with one of the four different face buttons,  for the 360 for example X is one arm, B is the other arm, Y is the head and A button is the legs.  I expect this not to be changed for the games final release in November.

Also new this year is the “Breaking Point” submission system.  How this works is you put on the submission by doing the ground grapple move or the finisher and a logo from the WWE Pay Per View Breaking Point will pop up. From there,  it is a tug of war battle between you and your opponent, what happens basically is the more damage you do to your  opponent the easier it will become easier to make your opponent tap out. So instead of using the right stick in years past to a tap out, you will just simply mash the buttons. It worked great in past games like Here Comes the Pain and it works great here!

The Tiger Woods style kick out meter returns and is better and more balanced than ever.  This time if you’re in a pinfall situation, the section that you need to get the meter into changes every time, also if you hit a finisher the kickout meter won’t even show up until shortly after the one count, instead of as soon as the pinfall starts making it harder to kick out of your opponents finishers.

Animation, this has been a sore spot for the series for quite some time. The main issue in past games was the warping of moves from pins, or warping to signatures like the five knuckle shuffle or the peoples elbow, to even simply ground grapples. Granted over the years it has gotten better, but this year it is completely gone. It makes the game feel less like its ancestors and more deserving of its new name WWE 12.

In the past certain moves would not flow or animate into each other properly, this has been remedied with a new animation blending technology in which it will take one animation and another animation and it will blend them so there will be no more awkwardness and robotic looking moves. Breaking up animations and moves have been something the fans have asked about for many years and this year several moves, signatures, and finishers can now be interrupted.

Little things such as this help push the game closer to being a more authentic replica of the WWE experience. Speaking of bringing you a true to WWE product, for title matches, the intro has been updated to reflect WWE’s boxing style introductions in which the champion and challenger are introduced by the ring announcer, Justin Roberts.

Attributes have been retooled this year as well,  now totaling to 12. Here is the list…

Strike Power
Grapple Power
Submission
Strike Defense
Grapple Defense
Speed
Agility
Adrenaline
Recovery
Toughness
Charisma
Tag Team

So now you guys can start speculating what each attribute means for the superstars that you’re playing as.  Speaking of abilities, the kip up ability has now been replaced with something called a dramatic comeback for when you reach a certain damage level.  Once there you will have a prompt pop up as you’re on the ground asking you  to hit the Y button which activates a flashing bar that is integrated into your momentum bar where you hit your dramatic comeback. This is done by running and press Y button. For example John Cena has his two running shoulder blocks and his spin out power bomb and you instantly earn a signature for the Five Knuckle Shuffle and then a finisher for the Attitude Adjustment. While all of this happens prompts pop up and its a war between who can time it the best, it works very much like the old tag team hot tag feature.

Which leads me to match progression, the most telling thing of all about WWE ’12 is how the match progresses from a WWE point of view. As you start the match both of you cannot tap each other out, neither one of you can make a comeback, both of you can walk without holding a body part , you run freely around the ring and you cannot do any signatures / finishers.

Now as you progress further into the match with moves like limb damage moves, groggy grapples you will see the Breaking Point meter moving down to one side or the other, one side of the coin will be able to mount a comeback , the superstars will hold body parts, it will make it harder to run around as your adrenaline will be drained, you will get to the point where you can do signatures and finishers to end the match. The point I am trying to make is that THQ has finally captured all of the trademarks and highlights of WWE style matches, all the while still being fun to play at the same time.

 

Here we’re going to talk about the superstars that will be playable at E3.

John Cena

Attire : Red persevere attire, darker jean shorts, red arm band, red wristbands, black hightops
Entrance : Same as you see on tv
Moveset : New Five Knuckle Shuffle of the top rope, new diving leg drop,
Dramatic comeback – Two shoulder blocks, spin out powerbomb

Alberto Del Rio

Attire : Gold attire with scarf, has the birds on side of trunks
Entrance: Comes out in a Bentley looking car on the ramp, Ricardo Rodriquez introduces him.
Moveset : Cross Arm Bar looks great as well does the running enziguri

Randy Orton (Note Randy Orton is the best overall in the demo – Movesets, entrance, comeback)

Attire : Black tights with olive viper green outline
Entrance: Orton with the belt holds up just like on TV, regular has Orton does evolution taunt.
Moveset : Olympic Slam, signature clothesline, new jumping knee drop
Dramatic comeback – Two running clotheslines , snap power slam

The Miz

Attire : Blue tights with Miz logo on the back
Entrance: New Miz entrance with Miz being cocky as ever.
Moveset : Nothing new.

Note: Nothing on the stars are final in the E3 build.

The movesets have seen a huge upgrade, not only are there two running strikes making a comeback…but also the movesets are more accurate than ever before. The moves feel personal and there is nothing there that  shouldn’t be.  A little over sixty new moves have been added to this years game, as well as there is some cool reanimated moves.  Not to mention that not a single move has been removed from the 2011 game.

In past years moves have been removed because they were not the quality of newly animated moves and just did not fit with the tech of the game.  I can assure you, removal of moves was not done to spite the fans, that request a billion moves. The AI has also been improved this year with more challenging difficulties,  varied attacks and more aggressive AI.

The audio in the game while just on par past years, has not changed that much aside from the inclusion of lets go Cena Cena sucks chants and grunts of the in game superstars.

The camera angles have received a very noticeable upgrade, as there is never a time when the action is not caught just as it is on WWE TV. From John Cena hitting the top rope five knuckle shuffle to when the Mexican Aristocrat hits the dashing enziguri. Also for added drama, a special effect with a brown/tan tinge where time is slowed down. Of all the effects we’ve gone through this probably the best implication so far of Yukes games.

There is also a new rendering technology in place in this years game, as well as revamped lighting. The screenshots really do not do this game justice. The models between 2011 and WWE ’12 is very noticeable.  The detail on the face , as well as any text or images on the superstars attires are more detailed than ever. The details on every superstar and arena look as authentic as ever and you’ll notice things like when you walk up the ramp the superstars will be illuminated and when you are in the ring you will see the ropes bouncing, as well as a shadow underneath the superstars.

One downfalls of past Smackdown games is that it just didn’t feel very competitive. This has been remedied by improving how the reversal system is handled, while the game does still use the RT / R2 button to reverse, the windows of reversing have been heavily modified and the chain grapples do not exist the same way as they did in WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011.

So at the end of the day, we have a new submission system, interruptible  moves, grappling with buttons, new camera angles, more accurate movesets, and the reversals are fixed.

The list of how much work has been done on this game from both a presentation and a gameplay point of view is a list that is comparable to the transition from Shut Your Mouth to Here Comes The Pain. I’m going to be honest here this is not like going from Smackdown to Day of Reckoning, because the team at Yukes were able to retain the core that made the Smackdown series so successful.  But at the same time took that gameplay and took all the bad things and they replaced them with gameplay that on the surface looks simple but have a ton of depth to it.

Some franchises get re branded and its just a name change, with WWE ’12 as a far as I can tell, just like Shawn Michaels is the WWE Hall of Fame , WWE 12 is what WWE Games are all about in 2011. From what I can tell this game will not suck.

Make sure to check back to GamingRing.Com for more coverage of WWE 12 including gameplay videos, podcasts, interviews and more!

Also check back for coverage on games like Duke Nukem Forever, Xcom, Rage , and Nintendo’s huge console announcement on Tuesday and whatever Sony does on monday night!

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Author: Brad Ward View all posts by
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