THQ has been fairly clear that changes are afoot with its decade-old wrestling simulation WWE SmackDown vs. RAW franchise, telling GameSpot last month to expect details at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. With that show kicking off next week, THQ today drew back the curtain on its plans, the least of which is a rebranding of the franchise's long-winded moniker.
THQ will be releasing this year's installment in the pro wrestling sim under the name WWE '12. In an interview posted to the game's website, Yuke's creative director Cory Ledesma said that the name change is indicative of a greater reboot for its WWE franchise, one that involves incorporating new technology and refining gameplay.
"WWE '12 is far from just a name change," he said. "Our goal has been to create a brand new experience with a new, high quality animation system, a new renderer and a new strategic gameplay experience that will look, feel and play substantially better than its predecessors. When you play the game, you'll notice right away that you're spending less time on the mat mashing buttons and more time enjoying the action with a faster paced gameplay flow, simpler game controls and the most fluid and realistic animations the game has ever seen."
"This is a true franchise reboot and not just a name change," he continued. "It's also an investment toward the future of the franchise, giving us the opportunity to use our new technology to push the game to new heights never seen before."
Ledesma indicated that this updated tech includes new animation that enables added gameplay possibilities, such as interrupting wrestlers' special moves. However, the creative director emphasized that the studio isn't starting from scratch.
"I've just felt for a couple of years now that the franchise has been getting stale and in need of a reboot. Not just with the name but also with the game experience," he said. "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."
"Now, we aren't changing the game entirely or completely ripping everything out to start over," he continued. "That wasn't the goal. What we are doing is taking the basic essence of what is good in the past games and making a new experience that feels fresh, fun, responsive, faster, smoother and is of higher quality."
THQ expects to have WWE '12 on hand at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. GameSpot will have more information on the game as soon as it's available.