That’s the number of MMA fighters that were available to use in UFC Undisputed 3, developed by Yuke’s and released by THQ on February 14, 2012.
That’s the number of WWE Superstars, Divas, Legends, and Announcers that were available to use in WWE ’13, developed by Yuke’s and released by THQ on November 22, 2012.
Fans of wrestling continuously get ripped off when it comes to games, and not just on the roster, but modes and unnecessary limitations as well.
Consider this, it is 2012 and we still can’t have more than six wrestlers in the ring at one time. Playing a Royal Rumble match is laughable because once six wrestlers get in the ring, no more are able to come down until someone is eliminated. Want to have a Survivor Series tag match, or just a regular eight-man tag team match? Too bad, you’re limited to six wrestlers. Meanwhile, MAG was able to feature 256 players waging war on a single large map with vehicles and explosions. Battlefield 3 can have 24 players, tanks, jets, helicopters, jeeps, and destructible environments (buildings, trees, you name it). Dead Rising 2 can have hundreds of zombies on the screen at once for you to plow through. Starhawk can have 32 players shooting, flying, driving tanks, ATV’s, jetpacking, and building stuff on the fly to change the battlefield. And wrestling games can’t even have eight wrestlers in the ring at once. The only exception here was Royal Rumble for Sega Dreamcast which could have nine wrestlers in the ring at once during the Royal Rumble.
Is there really any good reason why, in this day and age, we can’t have 10 wrestlers in the ring at once? I’m not greedy either, I’d settle for eight just so we can finally have the classic eight-man tag team match. If need be, darken the arena so we don’t have to see so much of the audience. It’s just six people repeated anyways. Trim the fat on the story mode if necessary. Who honestly plays a wrestling game for the story mode anyway? WWE ’12’s Road to WrestleMania was fun, but I would have gladly done without it if it meant I could get more gameplay options and a bigger roster. Besides, two-on-one and three-on-one backstage matches tend to get boring pretty fast anyway, especially when combined with tons of cutscenes and matches for you to do damage and push a button to trigger another cutscene.
Yuke’s introduced Universe mode in Smackdown vs. RAW 2011, and it was a fun mode. They improved on it a good deal with WWE ’12. And yet, despite the improvements the mode is still hampered by unnecessary limitations. The tagline when the mode was first introduced was “it’s your universe now.” But that’s not true at all. To come close to remotely making it “your universe,” you’re gonna have to spend a considerable amount of time making changes and you’re still going to be screwed by limitations THQ has put in.
This is the roster I would like to see. You’ll find that it includes every current WWE Superstar and Diva, which is the most important thing for me, and a good portion of NXT/FCW superstars and divas. It also contains more than enough legends and Attitude Era stars to suit anyone.
WWE SUPERSTARS (56)
Alberto Del Rio
The Great Khali
WWE DIVAS (14)
That puts the roster at 70 people, and that includes every male and female wrestler (and also John Laurinaitis, Hornswoggle and Vickie Guerrero who have wrestled).
NON-PLAYABLE CHARACTERS (16)
WWE NXT/FCW (24)
WWE LEGENDS & ATTITUDE ERA (45 Superstars & Divas)
Bad Ass Billy Gunn
Big Boss Man
Road Dogg Jesse James
Stone Cold Steve Austin
That is a combined roster of 139 playable superstars and divas. I have 16 folks marked as non-playable, but if their models can be included in the game then I don’t really see why they can’t be available to use in matches (no need for THQ to make them unique movesets or wrestling attire for them), so if they were playable then the roster would be 155 playable characters. That’s still one shy from the 156 playable fighters in UFC Undisputed 3.
The only wrestlers who need alternative attire are Triple H, Undertaker, Kane, Big Show, Chris Jericho, Christian and Mark Henry, and the only alt attire they need is their Attitude Era attire. We don’t need attires for different colors, or wearing suits and T-shirts. Seriously, how many people will actually have Sheamus wrestle in a T-shirt?
Think that roster size is unattainable? Think again. If UFC Undisputed 3 can have 156 fighters, WWE games can do it too. Heck, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns had a roster of 327 and you could add up to 500 more using its Create-A-Wrestler feature. Although yes, I’m aware WWE games use more realistic character models and 3D versions… but so does UFC games developed by the same people (Yuke’s).
Take that 155 wrestler roster (maybe add Rikishi to give it the same number as UFC 3), and then do the following:
Change Road to WrestleMania from being a story based mode using a pre-determined WWE superstar, to being a mode solely for a Create-A-Wrestler. Start out wrestling in gyms against randomly generated wrestlers, and earn a WWE developmental contract. Move on to FCW and work your way up the rankings there to be called up to work WWE house shows, NXT, and then RAW or Smackdown. You don’t even need cutscenes for this, all though simple ones could be inserted. Make it a little RPG-like by being able to “level up” and learn new skills and moves. Think a hybrid of MLB: The Show’s “Road to the Show” mode with Smackdown 2’s season mode.
Transform Universe into a standard season mode. But a fully customizable season mode. You have a full calendar that just keeps going. You can edit it as much as you want; RAW on Monday, NXT on Wednesday, Superstars on Thursday, Smackdown on Friday, however you want to do it. If you want to have a one-off special like Tribute to the Troops, Saturday Night’s Main Event, Clash of the Championship, whatever, you can edit any day to add that show. Multiple PPV’s a month if you want with the option of filtering talent by brand (i.e. to make brand only PPVs).
Let the CPU book every match, but you have the ability to change every match right from the menu instead of having to play a match and then go back to the menu and change the next match like you had to do last year (which messed up their match flow true presentation). Make it where you can have a minimum of three matches to a maximum of ten matches. Titles can be defended on any show, against whoever. Have the option to assign brands to shows so that only brands assigned to a show can appear on that show; RAW wrestlers can only appear on RAW if you want. If you want RAW and Smackdown wrestlers to appear on RAW and Smackdown, then you should be able to assign both shows those brands. And none of that crap from last year with stars not assigned to a brand or a different brand appearing on the show as booked by the CPU. If I have NXT (or TNA or whatever) then I want only that brands superstars to appear on it, I don’t want “Remarkable Match Vader vs. Tyson Kidd” when Vader isn’t on my NXT brand.
For Season Universe, I’d have FCW run in the background as a non-playable entity. You’d still have the option of calling up the FCW talent to one of your brands, or just let them randomly be called up, there just wouldn’t be a default show for them. In a sense, Season Universe would be akin to storyline General Manager mode. Speaking of GM, you should be able to assign people to be the GM of a brand (and thus become a non-playable character) to be seen in cutscenes occasionally. Say Triple H retires due to age, instead of being fully removed I should be able to make him the GM of RAW.
In Season Universe, wrestlers can: retire, get injured, get sent down to FCW, be released, suffer career ending injuries, walk away from the company (free agents), or simply be made inactive. To replace these superstars, FCW talent gets called up. Using my roster, the game would have 24 active superstars and divas from FCW already in the game, but the game should have the capability of randomly creating superstars and progressing them through FCW to the point that if you went 40 years into the season, you’d be playing it with nothing but CPU generated wrestlers. Now I’m all for customization, so the player should be able to override any decision the CPU makes. Don’t want John Cena to retire at 42? Make him active again. Don’t like that Cody Rhodes broke his neck and was forced to retire at 30? Make him active again. Don’t like that Brock Lesnar walked away from the company? Put him back on RAW. By the same token, if you want to fire Tensai, go ahead and release him. You could always rehire him whenever you want.
To make all of that easier, you shouldn’t have to scroll through a huge list of talent to make any changes. You should be able to sort the talent by brand (RAW, Smackdown, etc.) and status (retired, injured, free agent, etc.)
In addition to being able to make superstars non-playable by making them a GM (which can easily be reversed), you can also make superstars and divas non-playable (by default) by making them a manager. To go along with that Create-A-Manager aspect, more creation tools: Create-An-Arena returns, Create-A-Tag Team, Create-A-Stable, Create-A-Belt, Create-A-Brand, Create-A-Show, Create-A-PPV… all useable in Universe.
Now take all of the above season mode version of Universe and apply it to a new mode; a CEO mode akin to Franchise. All of the above, plus FCW becomes playable, you have the ability to set ticket and merchandise prices, book arenas, you’re actually responsible for signing talent and making sure they’re happy, etc. No CPU booking here, you have to book every show yourself. TV shows have ratings. Ratings start dipping too low and you start losing advertisers and run the risk of losing your network. PPV’s have buyrates. This is basically a mix of any sports franchise mode with Smackdown 2’s Create-A-PPV mode, the GM mode of older SvR games, and a hefty dose of Extreme Warfare Revenge. Think of this as hardcore mode, where you find out running a wrestling company might not be the easiest thing in the world.
For all three main modes, stories can be told through both a WWE.com feature and through WWE Magazine (think WarZone but with stories not just a cover and Sports Illustrated from the NCAA games) instead of cutscenes (which there could still be some).
Obviously some things would have to be cut, but I don’t know who would miss them too much. Story based Road to WrestleMania with all of its cutscenes and voice over work would be gone. Create-A-Story would have to go, but those are the only two.
Match types, playable in any mode:
Tag Team (2v2, 3v3, 4v4, 5v5, 2v2v2, 2v2v2v2)
Handicap (1v2, 1v3, 2v3, 2v4)
Fatal Four Way
Six Pack Challenge
Falls Count Anywhere (in the crowd, backstage, even into the streets)
Extreme Rules (same as above only pinfalls and submissions must take place in the ring)
I Quit (same as FCA, but you have to grab the mic from the ref and make your opponent say I Quit)
Hell in a Cell
Special Guest Referee
Money in the Bank (either 6 or 8 men)
Royal Rumble (up to 10 stars in the ring at a time)
Lumberjack (only available for 1v1, eight wrestlers around the ring)
Iron Man Match
King of the Ring Tournament
Beat the Clock Challenge (can only be played during the course of a season mode show)
First Blood Match
Battle Royal (4, 6, 8, or 10 men singles; 4 or 5 tag teams)
Gauntlet Match (1 or 2 vs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9)
Last Man Standing Match
Roulette Match (could be any of the above)
All versions should be able to appear online in a limited capacity (no more than six players total for online play during a single match, with the continued exception of Royal Rumble which can support 12 players). In addition, a co-op mode for online (or local) for two players based on the old Slobberknocker match. Basically, two human players versus two CPU controlled superstars where every time one is eliminated, another superstar takes its place. The superstars would get progressively harder as you went and there’d be little power ups (water bottles) randomly appearing outside of the ring for human players to regain some health and stamina. Each player gets two respawns if they’re pinned or made to submit, but after losing that third time, the other player is on his own against two CPU guys. Basically horde mode, only with wrestling instead of shooting. You’d have to play until you either lose all of your men, beat every male superstar in the game, or fail to complete the objective in 45 minutes. Because of that, if an online player drops out their wrestler would be taken over by the CPU (there should even be an option for players choosing this mode to accept being dropped into a Slobberknock already in process that has 1 human player and 1 CPU player on a team.)
Of course all of this involves a studio not being lazy and complacent. Face it, there’s no competition in the wrestling games market on any kind of series level. Just as WWE is lazy because they know TNA will always be where they currently are, Yuke’s knows it doesn’t have to worry about someone else making a better wrestling game than what they put out. It’s made even worse by the fact that there’s no one else making WWE games; no AKI and no Anchor.
Yuke’s has been pumping out WWE titles yearly since 2000. Heck, in 2000 they released Smackdown (March 2nd) AND Smackdown 2: Know Your Role (November 21st). Before that, they were pumping out Japanese wrestling titles Toukon Retsuden (All Japan Pro Wrestling) which was the engine the first Smackdown games ran on.
During the past 12-years, we’ve seen huge advancements in video games. The only advancements seen in wrestling games is more realistic graphics and presentation and a little bit bigger roster. Even features that were once in games get taken out, and later re-added like it’s some new thing that changes everything. The engine for these games really don’t change either. Sure, they tinker with it. Last year saw an overhauling of it where they ripped out the guts and replaced it with better “predator technology,” but it’s still the same engine. And I’m fine with that; if a game finds an engine that works, looks and plays great, then absolutely stick with it make minor performance/graphical changes to it as you go through the years.
But, if your game is going to be a yearly title that uses the same engine, I think the fans should be able to expect more stuff. The WWE roster doesn’t radically change each year. 95% of the talent that was employed by WWE and featured in WWE ’12 are still with WWE. Their models already exist, and it surely ain’t that much work to tweak John Cena’s color from orange to green. Make the few cosmetic changes, and then work on making the models for the new guys. Do the coding for new match types since most of the matches are already in the game (or have been in previously).
Now we all know that THQ is in some financial trouble. How much is anyone’s guess, but if they were to be bought out by some other company the WWE license wouldn’t be included in that deal. WWE would be free to shop around to other publishers. But I don’t want to see that happen; I like THQ and I’m going to continue under the assumption that they’re going to be around for years to come and will continue to have the WWE license.
It’s too late for all this for WWE ’13, I know that. That unfortunately includes my above 155-person roster. But THQ only has two big franchises: Saints Row and WWE. If WWE games are to remain a yearly release, they need to get an in-house studio (THQ San Diego) working on the game and alternating years with Yuke’s. Have THQ San Diego work on overhauling the engine and adding the technical hooks for all the stuff talked about here for the series premiere on the next generation of consoles. With a foundation set for where the title won’t be drastically different every other year, I think we’d see some new ideas and innovation mixed when each studio gets a solid year and a half to develop their version of the game. Think Modern Warfare and Black Ops here, or Brotherhood and Revelations while another team worked on developing Assassin’s Creed III.
It took UFC Undisputed skipping a year to get overhauled and kicking butt with UFC Undisputed 3. I’m sure WWE likes having a new video game out every year, so the developers don’t have the luxury of more time working on the WWE game. But if two studios alternated years, we’d get a more polished and more refined product.
UFC Undisputed 3 set the bar for MMA games. MLB: The Show 12 set the bar for all sports titles. WWE games need to learn from these two games, plus the wrestling games of old (including the great text based simulator EWR), to really set the bar for wrestling games and give the fans a game they could play every day for who knows how long and never get bored with. You know there’s a problem when people look back at Nintendo 64 wrestling titles and proclaim them the best wrestling game ever made. It’s 2012. It’s time for wrestling games to join the rest of the gaming world and evolve into something more than it was in 1998; even WCW/NWO Revenge had over 60 wrestlers, so the inflated 78 seen in WWE ’12 isn’t that big of a leap.
Seriously, 78 people seems huge for a wrestling game. But then think about it. That 78 included DLC. Who did we have that virtually no one cares to play as? Jim Ross, Michael Cole, and Mr. McMahon. We had 13 divas, and 17 legends. And a second version of Kane. Where was Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins? JTG? The Uso’s? Primo? Darren Young? The list goes on. There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that we can’t get ever current WWE superstar in these games. You have room for Michael Cole and Jim Ross, but not Jimmy and Jey Uso? Ridiculous. I don’t want to have to download them off Community Creations; hell I couldn’t if I wanted too because the service is STILL a broken piece of junk that rarely works for more than two minutes at a time.
There’s a lot of people excited for the Attitude Era returning in WWE ’13, and hey I dig it too. But, what are the odds that we don’t get Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins in this game, but we’ll get Road Dogg and Billy Gunn. I love the New Age Outlaws as much as the next guy, and I’ll love to have them as a team in my Universe, but I’d much rather the current WWE talent like Reks and Hawkins, and Trent Barreta, and Epico and Primo, and so on.
Remove the waste from the games and give us fans more that we can keep coming back for. I loved WWE ’12, but once you played Road to WrestleMania once or twice, you have no reason to ever go back to it. And it’s such a resource hog with all of its cutscenes and voice over, and at the end of the day it gets boring the more you play at: it’s nothing but backstage handicap brawls and matches being interrupted by a button prompt to trigger a cutscene. With SvR 2011, the gimmick was the ability to walk around backstage during Road to WrestleMania, and it sucked. Quit the nonsense with these stories. I don’t want to play a contrived story involving CM Punk and the Attitude guys (which is nothing more than a rehash of the WCW invasion last year). Give me a career mode (UFC Undisputed 3 has a career mode, MLB: The Show has Road to the Show career mode… every sports title has a career mode and not a goofy story mode).
Cut the crap and we could get all of those matches (it should be a crime that we haven’t still gotten Special Referee, one of the most fun match types that you could have) and we could get that 155/156 person roster. Go play MLB: The Show, spend a time with Extreme Warfare Revenge, and for goodness sakes play your own UFC game and realize that you could learn and borrow from all of the above games, plus the WWE games you made back in the early part of last decade and give us the game that I think most wrestling fans would love to have.