After meeting Hulk Hogan earlier in the day, my inner wrestling fan came out. So I headed over to the THQ end of things to play WWE 12 and see what I could of Saint’s Row 3. I picked up a controller and found out the THQ has taken the K.I.S.S. Theory of game development in regards to the next WWE game.
As in: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Even though the game lacks the Smackdown vs Raw title, don’t think this is an entirely new game. Unless they change it, the pre-match character screen is the same, the animations looked the same to me, the loading screens looked the same (though they WERE very quick). What was different was how the game controls. I played this on a Xbox 360, FYI. Instead of using the right joystick system they moved to, the game has been simplified to be controlled for the most part by the face buttons. A is Grapple, X is strike, B is Irish Whip/Pin, Y is for signature/finishing moves, Left trigger to run, Right trigger to reverse, Left bumper for contextual actions, Right bumper for limb targeting system. When grappling you can change the position from front facelock to wrist lock to waist lock and so on to do different moves.
The now simplified controls are easy to get used to. However that’s the only thing that felt different from prior titles, the AI is STILL the same crap from every WWE game where difficulty just means the computer reverses more often. The new control system, while easier and less confusing for a broader audience, feels limiting at times. There’s a new submission mechanic as well called the BREAKING POINT, which I would like more if the words BREAKING POINT didn’t fill the screen. The words work as a meter that you have to fill in order to make the other wrestler reach their BREAKING POINT. The series has been moving towards more of a TV style presentation with zero HUD or other things cluttering the screen to give the illusion that you’re almost watching the WWE, well considered that shattered when you go for an opponents BREAKING POINT.
I guess simplifying the game broadens the potential audience, but I can’t help but scratch my head at why they overhauled the controls instead of addressing AI problems or numerous other issues the series has had. The new controls, submission system and name don’t breath new life to this ongoing series at all. In fact it feels like a step back instead of a step forwards.
Still the demo was limited to four wrestlers and the modes were not all available. I’ve heard that the controls could be changed in the options, but if so I did not see that option. Hopefully there will be something more than what was displayed at E3 for wrestling fans.