THQ have aimed to re-invent their widely successful but a little repetitive WWE series of games with the release of this year’s edition of the grappling franchise, WWE ’12.
The latest addition to the WWE licence – which THQ has held since 1999 – is a rebranding of the Smackdown vs. Raw series that the developer has been releasing every year since 2004. The move seems to have struck a chord with buyers – many of whom complained that the Smackdown vs. Raw series had grown tired over the years, and wasn’t really a patch on the earlier Smackdown games, released way back towards the end of the original PlayStation’s tenure/the early years of the PS2. In fact, the move seems to have been a shrewd one from a business standpoint, with the latest addition shifting almost 130,000 more units in its first week of sale than last year’s Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 effort managed in the same time period.
But what about the game itself? Is it any good? Well, it is, and it isn’t…
It’s a good, solid game that should be enough to keep wrestling fans entertained, however, most of the problems stem from the fact that, despite the rebranding, it’s still not really that different from previous interations of the Smackdown vs Raw series.
Yes, the design of the box and the in-game menus are different, but the engine itself is eerily similar to that used in the WWE games from the past few years. The game suffers from the same issues that most licenced games face when they’re produced year after year – repetition, and an overall lack of value.
There’s not much in the game that should really attract a buyer who already owns last year’s effort, simply because there aren’t an awful lot of new features or characters in the game.
That being said, the developers do seem to have at least made an effort on the character front – the various downloadable characters and “WWE Legends” in the game make the roster the largest ever seen in a WWE game. However, the core wrestlers that the WWE itself features at the heart of its product can only change so much every year. So while it might look slightly different to, say, 2008′s edition, there’s not a lot of differentiation between this year’s roster and last year’s, save for downloadable characters.
That’s where the game really comes into its own, with the ability to download and play as former WWE champions like Mick Foley and Randy “Macho Man” Savage being of particular appeal to players of a certain age. Early limited edition versions of the game even allow users to play as WWE legend and bona fide Hollywood superstar The Rock via a downloadable code. However, with the exception of one or two stars, each character has been available in previous games.
The Road to Wrestlemania mode is fun as always, if not a million miles away from what WWE fans will have played before. A final, interesting option is the ability to customise and create your own arena for the grapples to take place in – definitely a welcome addition to the franchise.
Die-hard wrestling fans will certainly enjoy the game. Even if it’s not entirely a case of THQ re-inventing the wheel, there’s enough to keep fans of the WWE happy. The only complaint is the fact that it’s pretty darn similar to the WWE games that THQ have been knocking out for the past few years. Good game? Yes. Worth parting with £40 for? Debatable.
What do our readers think? Is the latest addition to THQ’s WWE franchise worth parting money for? Or are grapple fans better off with the versions they already have? Let us know!