There are some quirks about Universe Mode, such as the inability to vacate a title (there's a workaround for this), but the overall experience is a blast. I've already restarted my Universe several times, and am still seeing new story lines and cutscenes even now. For those who want to take a hands-on approach to the mode, there is a virtually endless amount of content here.
While there is no way to reset Universe Mode, the ability to fully edit everything within the game renders this point moot. With the ability to create everything from new wrestlers to entire arenas, the only limitation in Universe Mode is your own imagination.
For those seeking a more structured experience, Road to WrestleMania mode returns with three new stories centered around Triple H, Sheamus and a fictional character. I'll be honest, this is probably the weakest part about "WWE 12," especially when compared to Universe Mode. Why would I want to waste my time playing through somebody else's fictional story when I can make up my own, or recreate the current WWE, in Universe Mode? There are a couple of cool moments in Road to WrestleMania and it's worth checking out, but that mode is only a small piece of what "WWE 12" has to offer.
Visually, I was blown away by "WWE 12." Character models are spot-on, save for a couple of exceptions, but the animations are incredibly realistic. The graphics for each show look as though they were ripped straight from WWE television, and the new camera angles also give matches a broadcast feel. The broadcast team of Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler were OK calling the matches, but I would have preferred Jim Ross. At least the commentary isn't as repetitive as it has been in recent years.
Just like the sport they emulate, wrestling games have constantly evolved, from "Pro Wrestling" on the NES to "No Mercy" on the Nintendo 64 to "Smackdown" on the Playstation. "WWE 12" is the not just the latest step in that evolution, but a genre-defining revolution that will be talked about for years to come.
Developer: Yukes Media Creations
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($59.99)
Rating: T for teen