WWE 12 review

  • Fast paced combat
  • Gigantic selection of off and online modes
  • Great roster with many classic superstars
  • Not the new experience the title implies
  • Matches with more than two guys can be hectic
  • So many customization options can be daunting

The SmackDown series remained the dominant force in pro wrestling gaming for over a decade. While challengers like TNA and Lucha Libre tried, only one thing could dethrone SD: the game makers themselves. This year publisher THQ dumped the brand to replace it with WWE 12. However, even with the new name and image, things aren't quite as different as some might hope, but we aren't that bothered by it.

The most welcome and obvious update was to the in-ring action, which is where SmackDown had gotten the most stale. The new game gave the devs a chance to alter things, though the control scheme is more like a positive regression. The grapple stick is gone, replaced by a single face button command just like striking. It's something many WWE diehards had been missing and it works so much better.

The core combat is on the upswing overall, as a new physics and graphics engine are noticeably better than last year. The general speed of the game and pace of the matches have been improved too, as the recovery time from damage has been greatly decreased. SD's pacing feels pretty slow by comparison, with WWE 12 matches feeling more competitive than ever.

The wrestling has subtler improvements too. The momentum meter only increases now, no more frustratingly losing your progress to a Signature or getting so low in a momentum hole there's no coming back. The contact between the wrestlers is realer too, with the new physics engine getting rid of many of the more robotic transitions. As far as the core combat goes, it's some of the best in series history, though if you liked the arcadiness of WWE All-Stars, the extra dose of reality might not be as welcoming.

For wrestling traditionalists, the idea of leaving it all in the ring is important, but WWE fans and former SmackDown devotees know sports entertainment is much more than that. What's outside it matters just as much, and WWE 12's feature set can't be beat (it just isn't very new).

Over many years SmackDown built up a huge amount of features. One of our favorites was the single player campaign Road to WrestleMania. It's back and this year's is the best yet with a cohesive story that spans three separate superstars, Sheamus, Triple H and for the first time ever a created superstar.  Each story flows into the next and covers a much bigger timeframe than Royal Rumble to Mania. Road is a better than ever, as is the standard season mode WWE Universe, which is more cohesive and customizable than before.

The improvement in solo play extends to the very personal experience of content creation, as all the creator modes from SD are back too. Create-a-Superstar, Create-a-Finisher and Create-a-Story return and are incrementally improved from last year. There's also the long-awaited Create-an-Arena which allows you to customize where you perform about as much as you can change things in the other modes. And the online contact community where you can share it all is still there too.

However, while we appreciate the return and refinement of all these previous features, they do make WWE 12 feel less fresh and more like a slight upgrade. It would have been foolish to throw out all the great tools built over the years for SmackDown, but THQ had a real chance to change things up in WWE 12, and the alterations to the actual wrestling isn't enough to earn its new name.

Even if it doesn't revolutionize wrestling games, WWE 12 is the best wrassler around and mixes things up enough to not feel stale. It owes much to SmackDown, but everything it borrows is still great, just slightly used. If you wanted a completely new wrestling experience, wait for the next challenger to WWE to give it a shot (and probably fail). In the meantime, THQ will just keep delivering the same dependably great package.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita
Genre: Sports
Published by: THQ
Franchise: WWE


  • wizardc - March 3, 2012 1:49 a.m.

    If this was my first ever WWE game, I'd probably rate it a "4-star," but because I played every game in this franchise since 2005, I'm a tad confused as to why THQ has decided to take a different direction this time around. The only thing that may be better are the graphics(may be!) If you have already played WWE games before, get ready to re-learn controls one more time as they have revamped them. Many striking moves will get reversed often by a cheap AI. Even at the EASY and sliders in your favor, it will happen at high-rate, making an arcade experience almost non-existent. Of course some will say that "I suck," but hey, if you are new to the franchise, there will be a punishing learning curve. Also a very notable change is there is no soundtrack: Just one subtle tune playing throughout the menu. Still if you are willing to put up with all that, there are plenty of game modes and variety to keep you entertained throughout the game.
  • AlphaDogZero - December 9, 2011 3:13 a.m.

    What a relief. Saw the low score from game informer and I was like "whaaaat?". I knew I could count on GR.
  • BboyWill1 - November 27, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    I looked up this article specifically for your review. Since you gave it the nod, I will definetly pick this one up. Thanks
  • ProfessionalSlacker - November 24, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    This might sound like a wierd question, but does the new game allow inter-gender single matches? In earlier games i would create a woman, and while not able to hold a real title, i would build them up and have them kick everyone's ass just to keep things interesting
  • CitizenWolfie - November 23, 2011 8:27 a.m.

    When did Lucha Libre come out? I must have totally missed it. Anyway, always been a huge Smackdown fan and look forward to it every Christmas. One more question though, does it take long to get used to the new control scheme? GamesMaster UK said there's tons of things that the tutorials gloss over and that you're pretty much left to find out some of the finer points on your own.
  • EdDeRs1 - November 23, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    please tell me there are variations of Masked Kane and not just the one in the game, as well as differnt Undertakers (classic, MoD, biker) and it has stuff like HHH's King of Kings theme and classic Undertaker and Kane themes
  • HeavyTank - November 23, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    God, the PS2 smackdown games were some of my absolute favorites...I spent a ridiculous amount of hours bashing referees with chairs, just because I could...
  • legory - November 23, 2011 12:48 a.m.

    I don't know if WWE 12 is meant to be a completely new series of games, or just a name change to the same series. It seems like the latter. I haven't played a SDvR game since 2009. I used to be a pretty big fan of WWE (who wasn't?) and the games brought some of my best memories in life. While I probably won't pick this up, I'm glad to see the series alive and kicking.
  • Tazerbri - November 22, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    General Manager Mode? How is it?
  • LordZarlon - November 22, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    I have always wondered why THQ went with Yukes and didn't keep Asmik/Ace? Does anybody know anything about this?
  • Stabby_Joe - November 22, 2011 3:51 p.m.

    Kind of figured it would an 8 given the joke about it being an 8 regardless in the last podcast got an awkward reaction from Henry haha! This is starting to be a game with some varied opinions given how high and low some scores have been (although some of the low scores seem odd given all they do is complain about RTWM).
  • onetimebuster - November 22, 2011 3:18 p.m.

    I guess edges back problem was worse than he thought he cant even walk now lol.
  • rooster2814 - November 22, 2011 2:57 p.m.

    What about the difficulty? The past Smackdown games were way too easy , even on legend difficulty. Cheap AI constant reversing was as tough as it got.
  • GR_HenryGilbert - November 22, 2011 4:20 p.m.

    The difficulty has definitely been upped
  • Nate0124 - November 22, 2011 2:33 p.m.

    8 is great.
  • EdDeRs1 - November 22, 2011 2:25 p.m.

    now that is awesome, HHH's King of Kings entrance is in the game, glad u reviewed this one GR, always a bit miffed u didnt with 2011
  • EdDeRs1 - November 22, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    so i wont cancal my preorder then, good to know, now when dose GR want me layeth the smackdown on your collective candy arses?
  • Turbobison - November 22, 2011 2:17 p.m.

    My question, is it better than No Mercy, or is it at least close to that good? Secondly, is the auto-save as bad as last years, in length of time needed to save (That might be the worst sentence constructed).
  • GR_HenryGilbert - November 22, 2011 2:21 p.m.

    In my mind, No Mercy is the gold standard of wrestlers and has yet to be surpassed in pure gameplay. But that series is done. WWE '12 is the only game in town, and thankfully it's pretty darn good. And the overall loading is better too.
  • mothbanquet - November 23, 2011 2:51 a.m.

    Thanks for saying that, my friend and I still share many, many warm memories of No Mercy and I thought it had been all but forgotton. As you said though, it's a good thing that the only thing we have is good nonetheless. It's been a couple of years since my last wrassler so maybe now is finally the time to bring back all my beloved custom characters...

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