Everyone has to make cuts in these troubling times, what with our crumbling economy, so THQ has done its bit by chopping down the name of its long-lasting WWE Smackdown Vs Raw series to simply WWE. Every little helps, and all that.
Name change aside, WWE '12 is the usual annual update from THQ's grappler. Rather than providing a complete overhaul of the game engine, as was the case a few years back, this year's instalment offers slight changes to its mechanics - none of which really make a notable difference to the way the game's played.
The rubbish analogue-based submission system of the previous game has been replaced with the new Breaking Point system, which sounds glamorous, but is just a fancy name for both players bashing buttons in an attempt to apply pressure or escape from a submission hold. Sometimes a simplistic approach works best though, and at least Breaking Point makes it clearer how close a player is to submission compared to the guesswork of last year.
More important is the removal of almost all meters and gauges in an attempt to make the game look more like a WWE broadcast. This is a good idea in theory, but the momentum gauge can be important since it tells you how close you or your opponent are from triggering a signature or finishing move. While you can turn your own gauge on via the options menu (CPU gauges are lost forever, unfortunately) it now floats sloppily under your wrestler instead of being tucked away in the corner like it used to be, which makes things messy when playing with four players who all want their gauge on.
Grappling aside, the main Road To Wrestlemania mode has been given a bit of a revamp, with one lengthy story now replacing the five individual ones. Initially starting down the 'villain' path, you eventually get to play from different points of view as you progress. The storyline is written by real WWE writers, making for a great plot that could easily be a real TV job, and it's presented in an authentic manner, with video sections disguising loading times for the in-game cutscenes. We won't spoil the story, but long-time fans of the squared circle will be happy with one particular plotline about the invasion of an old wrestling franchise.
As any WWE fan will attest, playing the game is only half the fun. The array of creation and customisation options remains breathtaking, with each year's edition adding a new aspect to the ever-growing list of things that can be picked apart, created and designed. This year, as well as the usual wrestler, entrance, video, special move, storyline and logo creation, you can dream up your own arena too.
Every aspect of the ring and surrounding area can be recoloured, retextured and even covered with designs, using preset logos or your own ideas. Ever wanted to fight in a neon pink ring, with yellow ropes and a picture of a coy squirrel on the mat? Of course you have, and now it's possible, assuming you're skilled enough to draw said squirrel.
Our only niggle is that the customisation is limited to the ring area and doesn't extend to the entranceway, which as any WWE nut will know is the part of the arena that tends to change the most. Anyone hoping to recreate the TitanTron from old episodes of Raw Is War or the large WWF video wall circa 1992 will be disappointed.
Of course, as before, everything you make can be uploaded and shared in the online Creation Centre. Last year this contained a ludicrous amount of wrestlers, moves and storylines, and the addition of arenas is only going to make it an even more enticing prospect for fans.