By MisterBananaFoam 1 Comments
Recently, my friend brought his copy of WWE '12 over to my house, and me and my friends had a ball recreating a bunch of our friends (and enemies) from our neighborhood and letting our digital beefy avatars duke it out inside the ropes. Wrestling games are the only types of sports games I could get into, largely because it involves combat and has the aforementioned customization content (which includes creating wrestlers, move-sets, finishing moves, walk-in entrances, entrance video montages, highlight reels, arenas, and even your own damn storyline). It's the perfect recipe for replayability and enjoyment...
...but for some reason, it falls short of perfection. I think it's funny as hell to be able to suplex my virtual gym teacher into a table, but the move variety isn't terribly unique. A lot of the grapple moves seem to be variations of "pick the guy up and slam him on the ground," whether it be lifting him by his arm and leg or slamming him into the floor with his head between your thighs, and while hardcore WWE fans are probably looking at me like I'm goddamn retarded, the moves all look pretty similar and not very appeasing to me. WWE '12's combat is also very slow compared to other games. You're likely to do grapple attacks in succession as fast as militiamen could reload and shoot their muskets in the Revolutionary War (that is to say, at a snail's pace). Also, thanks to the game's physics engine, the hit detection was off the mark and the countering system was crippled and skewed.
This brings me to my point. In order to put wrestling games on the board again, developers need to dig down into the roots of the wrestling genre and take a few notes from what I consider the single most enjoyable wrestling game on the market...
Yes, everyone has been begging out of their asses for a true sequel to Def Jam: Fight for New York ever since EA shoved it into the dirt like damn near all of their IPs as of late, but I'm not talking about that one. I'm talking Def Jam Vendetta, the brutal king-of-the-ring fighter developed during the golden age when EA Sports still used the BIG label. Every time I came over to my cousin's house, I'd always have him pop this game into the 'Cube and go to town for a few hours. Don't get me wrong, WWE has some destructive moves, but when I think of a wrestling game that brings the pain with a capital P, I immediately think of the Def Jam series.
Here's my dream idea: the Def Jam and WWE games combine their rosters into one (maybe dropping a few unpopular characters due to hardware limitations), utilize the gameplay popularized from Def Jam Vendetta (and, to a lesser extent, Fight for NY), and include the customization options found in WWE '12.
I'm primarily emphasizing the customization, here. Def Jam hardly had any semblance of customization before Fight for NY, and even then it was limited to one character per save file with a very finite number of options to choose from. You had a vast array of clothes to shop for, but other than that, you were down on your luck. WWE '12, on the other hand, has all of that fancy schmancy shit I mentioned up above in parentheses. Including a finishing move creator. Def Jam Vendetta and Fight for NY's Blazin' Moves (AKA the game's finisher move) aren't limited to the laws of physics, unlike (most of) the finishers you can choose from or create in the WWE games.
Now, put two and two together here. Customizable Blazin' Moves.
As it stands, the finishing move creator in WWE '12 is decent, but a lot of the moves don't correlate with one another, instead playing a preset animation for each action, such as a punch to the gut or lifting a guy above your head. Most of the moves appear to be "set-up actions" (as I like to call them) where you spend one animation slot to prepare for the final slam/blow/throw/whatever and use the next one to deliver the "impact." If you try to go from one of these "set-up actions" to another position hold, it makes the move look awkward, buggy, and stupid as hell.
The finishing move editor and the physics engine altogether need a complete revamp before we can even fathom the thought of a Blazin' Move creator. I'm primarily pointing my head towards using the Euphoria/Endorphin animation editor, as it seems to allow simpler flow between moves and makes the combat less wooden. Then again, I know next to nothing about editing the animation in video games (which I'm sure takes an unforgivably long amount of time), so I guess I'll leave this point open for debate.
But just imagine how much cooler the finishing moves (and the movesets altogether) would be if they went by Def Jam physics! Punches and kicks would sound more painful, and slams and throws would give off a more thunderous vibe. You wouldn't be limited to the laws of physics, so your unarmed skills could increase tenfold, not to mention matches would go by much faster and would generally be more exciting.
It wouldn't stop there, either. You could create your own battlegrounds (like a spruced-up ring, a UFC-like octagon cage, or maybe even an outdoor environment editor) to brawl at, as well as entrance animations and videos for ringside battles. Character customization would be influenced mostly by the WWE games, although they could tidy it up a notch so your character doesn't end up looking like a giant rock formation like he starts out in WWE '12. I'm not good with storylines, so I won't get too deep into that, but maybe they could have some kind of generic tournament thing or underground fight club deal like they did in Fight for NY. Match types could be a mix between FFNY and WWE, with pinfall matches being mixed in with K.O.-only matches, where you can only win a fight by performing a Blazin' Move on an opponent with low health (or just a really powerful move in general), which ends up knocking them unconscious.
Don't get me wrong, WWE '13 is shipping up to become a neat package (the roster is damn impressive, and the stage editor sounds pretty cool as well), but I think THQ and Yuke's could learn a lesson from the old Def Jam fighters. WWE All-Stars was a step in the right direction (although I'm not particularly sure if there was customization in that game), but it felt pretty much like a kid's game through and through, and the physics in that game made me feel like the game took place on the moon or something. I think if WWE was to tread the middle ground, which to me is the Fight for NY-style gameplay, it could turn some heads and get awesome reviews. But then again, that's coming from a guy who isn't an avid WWE fanatic, so I might not know what I'm talking about.
What are your guys' thoughts?