I still can’t help wishing that the wrestling measured up to the creative suite in WWE ’12. Yukes does a solid job of revamping its visuals, and the new, touted Predator engine yields some improved lighting effects and visual sharpness over last year’s Smackdown vs. Raw. Collision detection is also vastly improved, and wrestlers animate far more fluidly, even if they still do move with rather synthetic gaits.

After years of tweaking an aging grappling system, Yukes completely redoes it for WWE ’12. Gone is the right stick (perhaps the most overused button convention in all of sports gaming), as a key grappling component; much of grappling has been returned to the face buttons.

The new setup is less predictable and mirrors the drama of wrestling far more accurately. Escaping pinfalls and submissions now takes place in a smaller window, adding more urgency to your button-pressing in each critical moment, and, overall, the action feels much faster. Last year’s game quickly became a patterned exercise in boredom, but this year’s game actually involves far more skill.

Thing is, you’re given very little opportunity to learn those skills. Last year’s game began in a “tutorial ring” of sorts, a perfect chance to learn game mechanics. This year, you get a simple read-through tutorial “menu,” but not a single chance to practice, which will lead to much early frustration.

Even worse, while Yukes improves much of the fighting, two issues still remain. You still rely on quicktime button presses far too often for reversals. And targeting is still an issue; on multiple occasions, I tried to climb to the top rope only to simply exit the ring.

Then again, fans of THQ’s wrestling series are all too familiar with these shortcomings. Heck, they’re used to them. And for those folks, WWE ’12 still has plenty to offer.

It’s not every day that you get to pit the Rock, Brock Lesnar and Sheamus against each other in a Triple Threat match.

Unless, of course, you’ve got a copy of WWE ’12.


Ebenezer Samuel is a staff writer for the NY Daily News and, covering the NFL, fantasy football, video games and technology, and a former contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Want to know what he thinks of the New York Giants, the state of NBA 2K12, or just about anything else? Follow him on Twitter @ebenezersamuel

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