It’s that time of the year again where games galore are released. In 2011, the holiday season has brought us a new Modern Warfare, Battlefield 3, The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword and the long awaited Saints Row: The Third to name a few. But there is one title which year after year delivers the goods to its loyal fans without delay and without issue. I am of course talking about the Smackdown Vs Raw series. But unfortunately this year we have no Smackdown Vs Raw.

The past two years of Smackdown Vs Raw have been less than banner for such a presegious title. Plagued by server issues and leaving fans thinking why is this DLC? I honestly didn’t think Layla was worth DLC. Lex Luger? Why? And a lack of Daniel Bryan (due to his WWE release)! Are you serious bro? Unfortunately for my copy of WWE Smackdown VS Raw 2011, it sits collecting dust on my shelf as a relic. I can honestly say between All Stars and SVR, I waited patiently for the awesomeness that was the arcade action of All Stars (my review is available on Analoghype for all to view). Unfortunately as a fan of the THQ branded wrestling titles since WCW Vs. The World, this was a low point for the company's wrestling games.

But this year it seems that THQ and Yuke’s have reinvented the product. Utilizing a patented technology titled Predator (after cover athlete “The Viper” Randy Orton), a new title and a whole new camera system amongst other minor improvements (including resized titles), THQ has emerged with a completely revamped experience entitled WWE 12. The title boasts that it is “Bigger, Badder and Better”.. This year… It truly is. You could almost call this title No Mercy 12 because it is that damn good.  Let’s breakdown WWE 12 and get into why this game has all the meat and potatoes that we were promised, along with what is missing from the game (which isn’t much).

The Good:

WWE Universe 2.0: The Universe mode has returned and has brought customization full circle. This year, more instances and twists have been added to the event, interferences, run ins and Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer have found their way into Universe 2.0. One of my favorite pieces of Universe 2.0 is the ability to actually pick your superstar after the entrance. A great example for me was playing as my personally created superstar, current Intercontinental Champion “The Instant Classic” Ryan Storm. As I was entering the arena during an episode of Superstars to face my ally Husky Harris, I was abruptly attacked by Alberto Del Rio and tossed in the ring for Husky Harris to easily pin, almost as if Del Rio was afraid I was gunning for his WWE Championship which he is refusing to defend (or so it would seem). Husky began putting the boots to me as Del Rio watched on laughing at the humiliation he had caused me. I thought I was going to lose my IC title but out of nowhere I mounted a comeback (thanks to the new comeback feature) and found my way to victory by pinfall after the most devastating powerbomb in all of wrestling (the powerbomb that sidelined former Nexus leader Wade Barrett after a grueling Last Man Standing match) Level 5 (which I had created myself). As I celebrated my successful title defense, Del Rio smacked me with a chair repeatedly! Leaving me for dead in the middle of the ring going into the Royal Rumble.  The next Monday on Raw, I set Del Rio up with a title defense against none other than the “Voice Of The Voiceless” CM Punk. Call it the new Montreal Screwjob, but let’s just say after the ref got knocked out, Ryan Storm made a run in and made sure that Punk went into the Rumble Champ.

Road To Wrestlemania: Plain and simple: I was sick and damn tired of the John Cena RTWM storylines. Truthfully, I am sick of John Cena. This year’s storylines come in less abundance, but bring more playability and a signifigent amount more depth. Without giving away too much, let’s just say that Shamus wins every title in the WWE.. Kind of neat. Your Storylines this year include a Hero, Villian and an Outsider. Very interesting storylines. Kudos to THQ for some amazing plot twists. WWE should pay attention. THQ is on to something. Well done.

Roster: Overall, the roster out of the package is fantastic. An excellent mix of current superstars and legends. Out of the box, Eddie Guerrero, Kevin Nash, Brock Lesnar and The Man They Call Vader truly stuck out to me. Edge is included in this legends list as well. Updated versions of John Cena, Randy Orton and the addition of Alex Riley, Ricardo Rodriguez and Daniel Bryan made a solid roster come full circle. In upcoming DLC packs, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Shawn Michaels and Macho Man Randy Savage is set for a January release?! THQ has listened to our demands and given us superstars in which we want to be a part of our game. Now you can relive the Michael Cole Challenge and have him also accompany the Miz to ringside. This is cool. Once again excellent job THQ.

Revamped Online Mode: Thus far I have not seen server issues. I like this. I feel that the online mode has only improved steadily over the years and THQ is putting more emphasis on the online modes to keep up with the ever changing landscape of gaming. Connecting to someone for an online match is easy, the Community Creations section is clean and shows almost like the ESPN bottom line bar on the home screen which is a cool touch, shows you what is hot for community creations. Love the storyline follower online as well. Interesting but welcomed touch. The updated online Royal Rumble again, SOLID!

Create-An-Arena Mode: For a first effort you cannot complain. The only problem with this mode is the lack of customization for the entrance area. Not the end of the world unless you are trying to create the Wrestlemania 2000 arena and can’t change the lights to green. I highly recommend downloading my arena and looking for the Monday Night Madness arena, that one is cool too!

Locations: Clash Of The Champions, Starcade and Monday Nitro have been added to the fray as unlockable arenas. This is totally cool. Great job by THQ scouting arenas that old school fans would dig. You guys did by us well. My personal favorite is the original Nitro arena. Would have loved to see the old school Raw and ECW on TNN arenas, maybe they will show up as DLC. I look forward to this addition if it comes down the pipeline.

The Bad:

Commentary: I feel the commentary (as I do every year) is out of sync and absolutely useless. I don’t want to hear Michael Cole talk about the new WWE Magazine and its “Great Articles” and I want the announcers to recognize feuds and specific wrestlers. The commentary is very basic to say the least. Michael Cole may be in the middle of a sentence and magically cuts out on his thought. This truly makes a hardcore fan want to mute the commentary.. Are you serious bro?

Create A Superstar: Minimal changes made here. Every year we see the same tights and options. Honestly I want to see more customization options and the removal of creative points. This annoys the crap out of me that Ryan Storm cannot have everything he would have if he were an actual superstar. Entrances with titles are minimal as well. I want to be able to customize a title entrance. The multi title entrances this year again.. Lack. I am not one to complain, but honestly we were promised an in-depth create a wrestler. The only things I have seen change are a couple pairs of boots, Morrison’s ugly fur pants and a tacky gold background. This is my biggest overall complaint… I want to see more options next year for Creative. I feel they slimmed it down this year. Please drop the leather Brian Kendrick pants. Add some boots that let me add kick pads over them. Give me more logos to work with, and for crying out loud… Please please please, give me new tights and patterns. The patterns available are useless…

Absence Of Create-A-Title: Not since Smackdown Vs Raw 2008 have I been able to create a belt. I remember during an interview conducted during July of 2010 I was told that Create-A-Title would be making a return. I cannot complain about the addition of some of the awesome belts this year including the classic IC title, but I would have liked to see the ability to choose between the two as the main title and the ability to make a classic white IC belt which mimics Cody Rhodes new title. This may be a small detail, but if you do online created leagues it’s an absolute blast to create those belts! I still have SVR 2008 for that one feature. Please THQ bring this back for WWE 13! I will pay you in Game Fuel and Red Sox Tickets for this!!

Overall:

Beyond some of the issues I have seen with WWE 12, I am overall impressed with the fluid gameplay and the redesigned character models. THQ has reinvented the WWE franchise once again and brought us a feel which brings the player(s) a more realistic feel. At times I almost felt as if I was watching live WWE television during my gameplay sessions. WWE 12 shines in nine out of ten featured points. This new predator technology is THQ’s ace in the hole. WWE 13 has nowhere to go but up from here. Overall this title is excellent in my eyes and will be well accepted by the WWE Universe.

Release Date: 11/22/2011
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yuke's Media
Overall Rating: 8.5
Replay Value: High

Written by Guest Columnist Quicksilv3r, whose Structure Gaming website will be launching in the beginning of 2012.

Share your 2 cents