WWE 12 review

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For the first time in 12 years, there’s no Smackdown coming to PlayStation this Christmas. Except there will be, really – because while the name of the biggest grap game in the business has changed, under the surface this is still the natural successor to Smackdown vs Raw 2011. It does a load of great new stuff, but is still weighed down by some nagging flaws.

Let’s start with the positive, though, because there’s plenty of it. In terms of pure wrestling, this is the best game of its type on PS3, with noticeable lessons learned from Yuke’s stablemate UFC Undisputed. Previous offerings featured floaty animations and oddly weightless wrestlers: now, taking a cue from the company’s MMA effort, there’s a real heft to even the lightest of brawlers, and bouts feel satisfyingly physical as a result.

One of the challenges of making a great wrestling game is that in reality, grapplers aren’t actually hitting one another, whereas in a game they should be leathering opponents’ faces with gusto. Now even the most basic of strikes – like a fist to the gob – look as if they hurt, and dangerous moves such as piledrivers actually feel like potential spine-breakers. It’s a big step forwards.

As is the reworked ebb and flow to bouts – early on its tricky to keep your opponent on the mat, but chip away at their stamina and they gradually stay down for longer, enabling you to take control of a match. This works both ways: the improved AI can be relentless at keeping you grounded, which may not be realistic – actual WWE matches feature more momentum shifts than those here – but definitely makes for a better game.

1/2

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