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WWE ’12 Announced

As if November wasn’t packed full of big releases already, THQ has officially revealed the next iteration to their WWE simulation titles. The Smackdown vs Raw titling was dropped for the next title, with the new one simply being called WWE ’12, and with the announcement, THQ promises some huge changes to the ever popular wrestling titles (more so than past titles). Bigger, badder and better is the tagline, and it might just be a proper description for the title.

Some of the new features have already been announced, including the mysterious Predator Technology. THQ described it as a system that “delivers a fresh and strategic gameplay experience that looks, feels and plays better than ever before.” Action is supposedly more fluid, animations are more realistic, the AI has been improved, and there is a new submission system called “Breaking Point”. This has a new mini-game that includes a scramble to the ropes for a rope break, something fans have been asking for for a very long time.

The technology has been improved as well, with better rendering and lighting that promises the best looking models in the titles thus far (the screenshots seem to show a much smoother style), and there’s now a new camera system that helps improve upon the title’s presentation (I think it would be cool to have the TV production cameras run the entire time if you decided to do CPU vs CPU matches).

Apart from the usual creation suites, THQ has also promised that there will be other types of creation modes that have never been seen in the WWE titles thus far. No word on what those are at the moment, but most anything you create can still be uploaded online for others to use, which is really cool, as there are a lot of quality user-generated downloads available for SVR 2011. My brother already has a few legendary pre-Attitude era superstars mixed in with a majority of big name wrestlers from the mid-90s through early 2000s that he gathered from other peoples’ creations.

WWE Universe was a big addition to the series in last year’s title, and this year, WWE Universe 2.0 promises to be a lot better (hopefully my suggestions got through to the team, as WWE Universe basically allowed you to lightly manage the rosters and the like, but was very limited on the title matches and #1 contendership bouts, which was something I suggested freedom in doing, among other things for improvement). Again, we’re still waiting on more details about that.

Hopefully with the new graphics system, there will also be better collision detection as well, and given this excerpt from an interview with Cory Ledesma, the Creative Director for the title, the main issue, clipping, should start becoming a thing of the past:

Q: The feedback from the community has been loud and vocal concerning the gameplay portion of the game. Do you have a message for those vocal fans?
Cory: We read you loud and clear! We’ve been quietly investing in and eagerly waiting for the right opportunity to introduce this new animation technology into the franchise. It’s actually something we’ve been working on for two years now. Being the annual franchise that we are, it’s difficult to bring in new, significant technology without halting the project entirely. I compare it to trying to change the tire of a car driving 80 mph: not easy to do! The technology group at Yuke’s Yokhama has been secretly working on the technology and its implementation while we’ve been working on the game the last two years. We are now at the point where we can integrate it into the game. The new animation technology and tools have allowed us to do things in gameplay that were not possible with the previous technology. We hit a ceiling on the old tech, and now with our new tech, we have plenty of more years to build it out and deliver a fun, responsive and visually impressive game. It will be exciting the next few years as we see what our new technology is fully capable of delivering.

Thanks to new and improved animation and gameplay systems, you can also interrupt moves in progress now, which is something I’ve wanted since they took it out of the Smackdown franchise years ago. An example given was attacking John Cena in the middle of a 5 Knuckle Shuffle. Something that needs to happen more often :P. There are also new Wake-Up taunts, which you can use to taunt downed opponents (think Randy Orton’s fist slamming on the mat, waiting for his opponent to get up so he can perform the RKO finisher), something else fans have been asking for.

The game is looking very promising, and will be launching near the end of November of this year. If we get invited to Los Angeles to check it out again this year, expect to see a full hands-on report. Until then, maybe the guys heading over to E3 next week will stop by the THQ booth and try out some of the in-progress gameplay and give their impressions on the live blog.