I got a chance to play the latest build of WWE '12 over at their Summerslam Axxess fan event last Saturday. THQ and Yuke's have been pumping out yearly games for over a decade, but recent years have been somewhat disappointing for the franchise as WWE '12 is being advertised as a "reboot" to start things over from scratch. Simulation aspects took over simple and fun gameplay especially when meters are everywhere on the screen to watch out for. In addition, animations have been janky for quite a while even though the developer Yuke's have been slowly improving those. From what I seen and played so far, WWE '12 is shaping up to be a return to the good days of the Smackdown games in the early 2000s.
One thing the WWE games have gotten right lately (not counting All-Stars) is the presentation, or in other words overall feel as seen in a normal WWE broadcast. For WWE '12, you'll see no HUD displayed at all when you're playing. No more meters to worry about as inputs would be displayed for reversals and signature/finisher moves when the opportunity comes. The core controls have returned to the face buttons especially grappling just like the last generation Smackdown games (Here Comes the Pain is the primary example as the THQ guys show off the new features in the clip below), which is a good thing. Sure, the animations haven't been fully improved yet as I noticed wrestlers glitching up like crazy (preview build folks!), but hopefully they're polished up in the final game. Another interesting gameplay mechanic is their comeback factor where it is an quicktime event where superstars string together moves to set up their finisher. An example of that if watch WWE programming on a regular basis is Cena's "five moves of doom" where he does two diving shoulder blocks, his signature back suplex slam (I don't know what is actually called), the Five Knuckle Shuffle which then sets up his Attitude Adjustment finisher. Signatures and finishers can be stored again, so for instance you can have Alberto Del Rio (who I tried out in the only match I played) have three cross arm breakers ready to go for the submission victory. Speaking of submissions, there's also a breaking point meter in which you can mash out if you're locked in a submission maneuver. Taking things back to the glory days of the franchise controls-wise is a great decision on the developers' part making the game faster and more fun to play.
Will WWE '12 live up to truly being bigger, badder, and better? We'll see when it comes out this November when an accurate roster of over 60 WWE superstars, some legends, and divas. THQ and Yuke's haven't really shown off some of the other modes in the game yet such as if certain match types are improved, the "career mode," and the customization features (even though Create-A-Arena is debuting in this game), so expect more about those soon. I like what I seen and played from the game so far despite some technical issues which can be easily fixed in the retail version. The pre-order bonus is none other than The Rock (his latest incarnation since he is facing John Cena at Wrestlemania next year), which seems questionable since he has been in every game, but you know Gamestop wants something enticing as a pre-order bonus. Plus, you can vote on who gets on the collector's edition cover between Cena and The People's Champion (which should be no contest with The Rock getting that one) as well. If I would get this game, I would definitely get the People's Edition for sure.