Tonight is WrestleMania 28. The showcase of the immortals. Even if you don’t like or follow the WWE, so many people get into the energy that WrestleMania provides. Every year I see more and more people on my Facebook feed, Twitter feed, and other feeds get ramped up for the event. Vince McMahon has created a media juggernaut with ‘Mania spearheading it. It was because of the star power and grandeur of WrestleMania that WWE is still around today and still sells out arenas. Tonight is a special night. Fans of a different era are given a huge treat today as The Rock, the most electrifying man in all of entertainment, comes back to the ring in a year-long program with John Cena. Cena, the hero of this era, is not just the poster boy of the company but also holds the affection of the majority of the fanbase. The Rock has always held some of the biggest crowd pops in wrestling history. The crowd will literally blow up tonight with that level of excitement. I can almost guarantee that WrestleMania 28 will be a spectacular show.
Every year for WrestleMania, the company holds several big events around the city they are in. It is a great opportunity for the fans to get face time with the wrestlers and do some cool things. The superstars themselves have plenty to do, as well. An annual golf outing is something that many of the wrestlers get amped up for. However, there is one event that normally happens that should catch the eyes of gamers: the wrestling game tournament. THQ holds a huge tournament for the wrestlers using that year’s updated game. This isn’t for fans. No, no this is the WWE superstars playing against each other to prove who is the best at the game. With many people who you wouldn’t think would be good at the games seen at the semi-finals and finals every year, it is hoot for fans to watch. Past winners are Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, and JTG. Kane and Mark Henry are reportedly amazing at these games and are usually seen close to the finals, which is a surprise for me. This year, one of the newer Divas (female wrestlers) A.J. won the tournament. For those who don’t watch, A.J. is an amazingly cute woman who is an extreme nerd. She is too awesome. She lived up to her resume by winning the tournament and beating Mark Henry in the finals.
Since WrestleMania is tonight, I wanted to talk about this year’s upcoming WWE ’13 game. No details about the game have been announced yet but ’12 was heralded as the best way to get a virtual representation of the shows. I disagree. I felt it was too similar to prior games with a fresh coat of paint and some new mechanics thrown in to make us perceive it as new (cough, cough Madden). I’ve come up with a list of features which should really bring fans closer to the experience in a way that feels like they are Vince McMahon or Teddy Long or Johnny Ace. These ten features combined with what THQ has already done with WWE ’12 would make the best wrestling game. Ever.
10. GM Mode Returns
The GM Mode from earlier entries of the Smackdown vs. Raw series was a very fun escape from the normal gameplay. It hasn’t been seen since the merging of the season and GM mode in 2008 and it really needs to come back. I hear a lot about a possible merge of the old GM mode and the new Universe mode but to be honest, they are very different. Universe mode is a random set of match cards that go through WWE’s “season” and takes either the pre-defined rosters or custom rosters in effect. GM mode has you in charge of putting together the best roster possible, giving the fans the best show they could see, and coming out ahead of Vince’s expectations. It is a business strategy mode that was excellent and pretty fun. Having this mode alongside the Universe mode would only enhance the game.
9. More Robust Universe Mode
Universe mode is cool but it needs some work. They really didn’t do much with it from the previous game to WWE ’12. What I would like to see added to Universe mode is the ability to change match competitors without having the game delete the match type and/or conditions, have the game do a random cash-in with the Money In The Bank holder instead of making you do it manually, add in random events for simulated matches such as interference or impromptu matches, alter the title rankings, and clear the rosters completely. Right now the Universe mode feels gimped. It is insane what you have to do to make custom rosters. You must have a minimum amount of wrestlers on the rosters so you can’t clear them and redo. Way too many menu jumping to get that done.
The lack of in-match events, cash-ins, and interference during simulated matches creates a disconnect with a bulk of the roster. Some players only play their favorites and let the others rot in simulation. Some players just sim every match just to see what randomness happens. Simulating a match should have a chance of an event attaching to it. This could be done by actually showing the event via loading up the match for visual show or just show the event with the result of the match on the card. Either way, that would really bring more randomness and accurate show experience to the game. I sometimes forget that Swagger was holding Money in the Bank until I got a week before the next Money in the Bank PPV.
8. Better Player-Made Showcase
For the past few games, going into the player-made showcase to download a created superstars or arena is just annoying. Everything from typing in a search to viewing something is stupidly done with a clunky interface and bad listings. The whole experience needs to be redone. There is nothing else to say about it.
7. Unlimited Layers in Create-A-Superstar
I understand that this is more of an engine problem but it sucks not being able to create more dynamic characters. It gets to me that I can’t take the time and create a proper Green Lantern or Spawn to fight John Cena at WrestleMania. Older games liker WrestleMania XVIII and IX, even the Day of Reckoning games, had much more defined creating modes. You don’t get that anymore. Reduce the limitations for creation and give the fanbase more options. I haven’t seen more than 10 additions to the items you can add to your character that get added every year. Get some more stuff in the modes.
6. Better Controls
I think they’ve changed up the controls every year since 2008. They keep trying new mechanics and switching up what does what that it is a new learning curve every year. Stop it! Go back to the superior control system that Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 and 2007 had. Everything about how those games played was head over heels better than today’s. Stick with one system and stop confusing your players. Right analog stick does this. Right analog stick does that. Right analog stick shoots itself in confusion.
5. New Engine
I wrote about this in my Reimagining article. If THQ took the engine that TNA Impact was built on, attached the WWE branding and superstars you’d be playing the best wrestling game ever. TNA Impact was featureless and boring due to the low acceptance of the TNA wrestlers and match types. However, the engine made it worth a play. The collision detection and animations were so fluid. Everything just screamed smooth and right. We need a new engine that doesn’t have wrestlers running into each other’s polygons, auto positioning themselves for high spots, etc.
4. Better Commentators
THQ does their best with this. You never know what the player is gonna do but the way the commentating system is now is pretty stale. Some years there isn’t even a difference between games. WWE ’12 improved commentators talk between each other but when play-by-play and event announcements came into the picture it just sounds old. When taking recordings for WWE ’13, I hope THQ brings in a more dynamic feel to how the
commentators talk about things happening and bring more trash talk between the guys at the table during the match. Also, heel Cole. As much as I hate him, if he is in the game then make him right.
3. Full Rosters
Making wrestlers for these games is a pretty daunting activity. We’ve heard from the THQ devs about the process that goes into bringing someone into the game but having a WWE game with the full, current roster would make the Universe mode, GM mode, and Royal Rumble matches fair better. It would help make an all around better game.
2. Better Presentation
WWE ’12 was supposed to be the best virtual representation of the shows. It feels just like the year before and the one before that. When you start a show, you get the pyro opening but no intro video. After that you get one or two scenes that deal with your chosen Road to WrestleMania star or storyline focus. Why isn’t there a way to play out full shows with openings, match cards, backstage events, promos, etc.? If I want to play a full Raw card that is in my Universe mode, it should feel like a show. In GM Mode, you have to put together a full show with everything the fans would expect to be there. If I put a show together, can I view it? Maybe I want to see why I only put on a 3-star show when I felt it was 4-star. I want to see why it wasn’t great. I want to witness the backstage interaction between the current champ and a contender. You really don’t get that.
1. Chris Jericho
The Ayatollah of Rock-’n-Rollah. The best in the world at what he does. Why the hell wasn’t Chris Jericho in WWE ’12? No, no don’t even try and give me a reason. You got Shawn Michaels, you got Stone Cold, you got The Rock, and even Batista. Where. Is. Jericho? Jericho is WWE ’13. I will bring that sign to every WWE show that rolls through Philly from now to the next game’s release.