Showdown: No Mercy vs WWE 12
Most long time WWE fans would agree that the greatest incarnation of wrestling in video game form was No Mercy for the Nintendo 64. I admit that I share the same sentiment. The modern wrestling games like WWE 12 never feel quite right to me. Am I and those like me just living in the past, holding on to the nostalgia of the attitude era, when The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were worldwide phenomena, the WWE was the WWF, and John Cena had yet to enter the wrestling scene. To justify what is better, the past or the present, we are going to have No Mercy vs WWE 12 in a showdown.
There is a certain checklist of elements that must be in a wrestling game. We are going to pit these two games against each other and see which one comes out a champion. The game that wins the most categories in the end wins the showdown. I may seem partial to No Mercy and old wrestling in general, but I ensure you that it will be a fair fight. I am a wrestling fan who is not jaded about the current tv product, and still legitimately enjoys watching and following it today.
Presentation is very important to a wrestling game, because you want to feel like you are watching and controlling a TV broadcast. It’s a no brainer that this round goes to WWE 12, and not because it has better tech on its side. I understand that No Mercy is almost twelve years old at this point, but I feel that the developers didn’t think presentation was everything. This is the most noticeable with No Mercy’s camera during a match being focused toward the titantron and entrance ramp, when it is nothing like that on tv. WWE 12 has a camera focused toward the crowd like it would be on television, and multiple camera angles to add to the realistic presentation. Simply moving the camera in the right position was easily within the capabilities of No Mercy. Camera angles may sound like a minuscule part of the presentation, but I believe it is the most important element to make you feel the realism of a TV broadcast. To add to the television like feel, WWE 12 had full ring entrances detailing all the motions and mannerisms of the wrestlers. No Mercy neglected to even show the superstars walking all the way to the ring. They would walk halfway down the ramp, the screen would fade, and your in the match. I also can’t forget to mention that WWE 12 has commentary. This would be difficult on N64, but No Mercy hardly even had voice samples. One check for WWE 12.
No Mercy may not win the presentation round, but it does have something WWE 12 doesn’t.
No matter how silly it can be most of the time, story is a key part of wrestling. WWE 12 is definitely making great efforts making the stories and backstage segments feel like tv, but everything feels limited. The story mode only follows a select few of WWE superstars, typically on their journey to get the World Heavyweight Championship. Variety and options during the story mode are just not present. In No Mercy you could use every single superstar, and start a story to obtain any championship belt in the business. There would be backstage interviews, and you would see promos between matches. The best part about No Mercy’s story was the branching paths. Depending on if you lose or win a match or made a certain decision the story would go all sorts of directions, and it added an almost unlimited amount of replay value to the game. One check for No Mercy.
Modern wrestling games seem to fall apart for me once you are actually in a match playing the game. WWE 12 improved a bit from its predecessors, but it still didn’t always play well. It’s always tedious get your special up so you can perform a finisher, and even though it’s called a finisher it rarely puts your opponent away. Also the way the wrestlers move about the ring always looks and feels clunky. They move extremely fast and the physics when they perform moves don’t look realistic at all. No Mercy moved a lot slower and more methodical, and it feels much better to control and play. When you execute the move it looks exactly how it should look. Getting your special up to do your finisher is far less frustrating than today’s games, and it actually puts your opponent down for the 1…2…3. Two checks for No Mercy.
What would any wrestling game be without tons of modes and match types? No Mercy is definitely well featured, but it didn’t offer up many of the gimmick matches that are present in the WWE. Hell in a Cell and TLC were very popular, fresh, and beloved matches back in the year 2000, and when I popped No Mercy in my N64, I was disappointed that these matches weren’t in the game. When I play WWE 12, I can take comfort in the fact that I will be able to partake in every regular and gimmick match that the WWE has to offer. Both No Mercy and WWE 12 are very similarly featured, but WWE 12 inches past No Mercy because of the absence of the gimmick matches. Two checks for WWE 12.
The place I spend most of my time when playing a wrestling game is the create-a-player, so it’s important that the games deliver in this area. Two things I like to do in a create-a-player mode is making existing wrestlers that aren’t present in a game, and spending hours looking at the moves list. WWE 12 definitely has the depth to allow you to create any wrestler, but the actual creation tool is too complicated. You have to be a genius to make a creation you’re proud of. Also the list of available moves is little lacking. You could argue that the move creator opens up infinite possibilities, but like the other create-a-player stuff it’s too complicated. No Mercy had the simplicity and depth that I look for in a wrestling game. You could easily create existing wrestlers that were not in the game, and the creation tools still stand up today because it’s easy to create even current wrestlers. Most importantly No Mercy had a massive moves list, and you were almost guaranteed to find any move you were looking for. Three checks for No Mercy.
It looks like No Mercy wins this showdown with three checks, while WWE 12 ended up with a not too shabby two checks. As you can see there are things to love about wrestling games past and present. For many years I have had the mindset that No Mercy needs to be remade, but this showdown has changed that opinion. Developers must simply gather inspiration from No Mercy, and mix the old with the new. That being said, I still would like a No Mercy remake.