WWE ’12. I have a history of loving games like this, as I was a huge fan of the WWF/WWE through elementary school and into college. I loved Wrestlemania 2000 and No Mercy for the Nintendo 64. So, when I was updating my Gamefly queue, I thought: “Why not give the newest installment a chance?”
Now, let me be completely transparent. I am not up-to-date with what’s happening in the WWE world, so I don’t know half of the superstars. I want to play this game for 2 reasons. 1.) I want to create an awesome version of myself that can powerbomb people through tables. And 2.) I want to then watch that version of myself become champion through an epic story mode.
Back in the days of Nintendo 64, this was doable because voice-acting was minimal and it was mostly subtitles. My hero could do commercials and interviews. This technology has hindered this title from reaching its potential. With full voice-acting, they’ve now stripped away the ability to really play as your character in the campaign/story mode.
When I first turned on the game, I went straight to the creator. For almost two hours, I customized my entrance, all my moves, and even created a unique finishing move. So when I finally went to start the “Road to Wrestlemania,” I was flabbergasted when it threw me into the shoes of some wrestler I didn’t even know. I played a few matches, hopefully it would then allow my hero to show up. It didn’t happen that way.
I backed out of the game and then tried the Universe mode.
I was allowed to use my hero but for some reason he was put into matches against John Cena, who destroyed me everytime. And it doesn’t allow you to progress if you lose, it’s either quit or rematch. After getting destroyed twice, I stopped playing by the game’s rules.
In the Universe mode, you can edit the matches of any event, so I would then pit myself against lesser opponents. I managed to beat some of them, but there was no story. By default, I’d always be pitted against John Cena. And then there was this super annoying factor: When you finish a match, you automatically begin the next match. That means you have to watch the entrances, choose which wrestler you want to control, and then you can pause the game and quit back to the menu. I spent more time trying to get back to the menu, so I could skip/play matches than I actually did playing matches. The Universe mode may be nice in theory but its horrible functionality stopped me from playing.
The graphics are okay, I guess, though I expected better. The create a wrestler feature was exhaustive and the amount of match-types to choose from was pretty extensive, including Inferno, Hell in a Cell, Cage, First Blood, and more. The Road to Wrestlemania seemed fun but it forced you to play as certain WWE wrestlers.
What doesn’t work?
People like me want to play this game for the two reasons I listed above and the game wouldn’t let me. The Universe mode, where your hero is supposed to succeed, is fatally flawed, hard to use, not user-friendly, and shallow. The fact that you have to edit matches and add yourself to them is a pain in the butt and there’s no sense of story. I would have preferred removing voice acting from the wrestlers and opening up the Road to Wrestlemania storyline to any wrestler. Note: I looked up this issue and I guess the third and final chapter of the storyline is a custom character, but that’s not what I wanted at all.
Also, the game doesn’t feature any sort of good tutorial. It’s been years since I’ve playing something like this but the in-game tutorials don’t cover nearly enough. I struggled to win matches and in specialty matches, I had no idea what to do. In a cage match, I didn’t know the unique controls that would allow me to utilize the cage. And even though I play games constantly, my hands were sore from the extreme amount of button-mashing. I turned down the difficulty and turned down the odds of reversals and still found myself mashing the buttons like crazy, with zero results.
It was not an enjoyable experience and the game has become so intricate that it doesn’t allow for custom wrestlers in the story mode (from the beginning), which was the biggest draw of the old-school classics. The make-shift storymode they created for this purpose is flawed and painful to use. Playing this game made me want to dust off my Nintendo 64 and I would have preferred those versions of this game.