|System: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Yuke's Media Creations|
|Release: November 22, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When it was announced that the SmackDown! vs. Raw series was going to continue on as simply "WWE," it seemed like a natural evolution for the game series. While SvR had become quite the fall staple, the series was fast outgrowing the name, as it matured and developed into more of a proper sports game and less of a button-mash fest. However, it's important to note that even though the name may have changed, you can still expect the same sort of gameplay: sharp simulation-style fighting, deep customization modes, and plenty of community features. So what's new?
First up, the combat system has yet again been tweaked to better reflect the unique fighting experience that the WWE brings. Aside from small precision tweaks, the most notable change seems to be the addition of a comeback meter that you can use to pull off an 11th hour comeback move. And because the game features stackable finishers, you can pair one of these moves with a signature finisher and conquer the most overbearing of opponents. However, you'll still have to look for openings and come at your opponent in the right way to make a comeback. Though the game provides plenty of opportunities for reversals, they aren't just handed out; you'll have to practice to nail the timing just right to execute a winning comeback.
In order to back up the improved battle system, WWE '12 will have an improved animation system and better looking wrestlers. Though the character models all look basically the same, the game sports crisper visuals and better detail overall. The game will also feature improved crowd visuals, something fans have been asking about for several years. The camera system has also been reworked, and will dynamically follow the action in the same way the cameras follow the action on the WWE television programs. The new visuals should bring players even closer to the world of the WWE.
Another feature that is coming to WWE '12 is customizable venues. In a way, this is an obvious progression for the series, as users have been able to make their own wrestlers, finishers, and even storylines over the years. The ring customization mode will work much like the wrestler creation mode, and players will be able to use official WWE logos and designs as well as their own creations in creating a unique ring. I can only imagine how many Fruity Pebbles-styled rings there will be come this fall!
One feature that will still be incorporated in WWE '12 from the SvR series is the WWE Universe mode. This mode features a dynamic storyline that changes based on player choice. While this mode has appeared in previous versions of SvR, Universe mode in WWE '12 will feature even more decision points and choices for players, which should increase the replayability of this title exponentially.
And of course, Universe isn't the only thing returning in WWE '12. Fans can look forward to plenty of online content again this year, including support for even more types of online matches and content sharing. Exact details about new content in the online modes has yet to be released, but it is safe to assume that there will be support for many of the game's new modes, as well as robust DLC offerings later on down the line.
The game will also feature one of the biggest rosters in franchise history, with over 70 wrestlers being available initially. The roster includes a mix of both WWE Superstars and Divas. Names like Kelly Kelly and Alberto Del Rio will be gracing this year's lineup, with plenty more coming as DLC. Interestingly, next year's Wrestlemania headliner The Rock is being offered only as a pre-order bonus for now, which seems a bit strange, but hopefully late adopters will get a chance to purchase him as DLC as the big event gets closer.
WWE '12 definitely represents a turning point for the WWE game franchise. The SvR series was great for what it was, but as the years wore on, the series evolved from its simplistic roots into a serious simulation-style fighter. Though WWE '12 will undoubtedly feel familiar to those with experience playing the SvR series, it should represent a turning point for the franchise and help make it even more prominent in the world of sports-inspired games, even if it's all just "entertainment."
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer