Roll-up, roll-up for the some serious ‘sports entertainment’, but leave your preconceptions behind: WWE ’12 might be based on a pantomime sport but it’s anything but shallow. This little disc has got as many fight modes as Heinz has varieties and there are more than 60 wrestling stars to boot (literally, if you like). You could lose weeks in the customisation options just designing arenas, editing WWE teams and adjusting the man boobs of a wrestler of your own creation before sharing your work online. Not to mention online matches that include 40-man Royal Rumbles.

WWE ’12 – looking good

So there’s a heck of a lot to grapple with here (see what we did there), but the presentation really shines, too. WWE ’12 embraces the outlandish, over-the-top theatrics of the TV shows, boasts one of the best, most realistic crowds of any sports game, and caps it off with first-rate animation both before and during matches.

WWE ’12 – tougher than Stone Cold Steve Austin

Unfortunately, in the ring it’s more hit and miss. This is a properly tough game – even the ‘easy’ mode is no pushover. There’s no tutorial, either, so there’ll be a lot of button-mashing going on in your first forays into the ring. Perseverance pays off, though, as the flexibility of the fights impresses, largely because of the new ability to target specific limbs when grappling.

WWE ’12 – shattering the illusion

However, even then issues remain. Countering an attack involves split-second timing and missing the fleeting prompts usually involves seeing your wrestler getting smashed into the mat repeatedly. What’s more, triggering some moves causes wrestlers to warp instantly into the suitable positions, and while the subsequent acrobatics are often bone-crushingly spectacular, that warp has already shattered some of the illusion.

WWE ’12 – a little too realistic?

While these little issues can be forgiven, the joyless Road to Wrestlemania story mode can’t. It’s the closest thing here to real-life WWE because players must execute scripted moves to progress and there’s no room for deviation. It’s so fussy that it removes the ability to execute moves that stray from its plan.

WWE ’12 - verdict

With dogged determination the intricacies of the proper fights and the depth on offer do overcome many of the frustrations, but fair-weather WWE fans would be better off hunting down the simpler thrills of WWE All Stars [] than this daunting sim.

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WWE ’12 review

Overly complex and perhaps too faithful to the ‘sport’, WWE ‘12 is really only for the hardcore fans