When WWE and THQ announced a re-branding of the popular video game series the two put together annually, some fans were unsure what to expect. But ultimately, the move signals a new era of the video game franchise.

“It was time for a fresh start with the franchise, not just in naming but also in the software itself,” said WWE ’12 Creative Director Cory Ledesma. “We’ve been planning a major infusion of new technology for the last two years in an effort to completely revitalize the franchise and give WWE fans a new experience.”

Ledesma isn’t simply hyping a game. WWE ’12 represents a reengineering of the once familiar Smackdown vs. Raw line and amps up the action. In particular, as Ledesma describes, the action feels a lot more realistic.

“Right away, fans will notice the difference in match pacing when they play their first match,” he says. “The pacing starts out fast and furious just like a real WWE match, but then as you wear down your opponent, the pacing begins to slow down to match those deteriorating energy levels.

“The new match pacing completely simulates the dramatic ebbs and flows of a real WWE match.”

Of course, part of the excitement of the new game is having a whack of new WWE superstars and Divas who you can control for the first time. Among those is Wade Barrett who makes his in-game debut (last year he was a downloadable character). For his part, Barrett is excited about being part of the game.

“This is pretty exciting for me, being in the WWE ’12¬†game. This one I’m actually in. Last year, I was a downloadable character, but this year, I’m actually in the game itself when you buy it from the shop,” Barrett told SLAM! Wrestling. “It’s really cool to be a part of that. I’ve played the game. It’s a real good game too. It’s the most realistic one they’ve created so far.”

Alberto del Rio gains the upperhand on Randy Orton.

While the opportunity to rumble with Barrett is one fans are definitely looking forward to, it is a former star that has gained the most attention going into release time — Brock Lesnar. The former WWE and UFC champ returns to WWE in the game, in a rather unique way.

“When designing aspects of his character model in WWE ’12, we thought it would be fun to model Brock in his current look, new tattoos and all, but with WWE style gear. This way fans can simulate Brock Lesnar making a real-life return to WWE via WWE ’12,” Ledesma revealed.