OXCGN’s WWE ’13 Review
Best In The World?
by Chris Fox
© 2012 Chris Fox
The question is; does WWE ’13 raise the quality margin or is it simply a set of ditto marks under last year’s release?
Oh, You Didn’t Know?
WWE ’13 is a hell of a lot of fun. Leap frogging off WWE ’12‘s radical gameplay upgrade, this year’s entry to the series delivers single and multiplayer mayhem with extra impact. On top of this, there is so much here for dedicated wrestling fans young and old to grapple with.
The presentation here is the best I’ve ever seen in a wrestling title. The front end has an iconic look thanks to CM Punk and his ‘Straight Edge’ menu motifs.
When a match begins it’s apparent that THQ and Yuke’s have spent a great deal of time and effort to translate the WWE television experience to this game.
Like with many contemporary sports games, squint and WWE ’13 looks real. Half of the fun of wrestling for me has always been Superstars’ entrances and they now look, sound and feel better than ever.
Layeth The Smacketh Down
Finally, the Yuke’s produced WWE titles have matured into solid and sophisticated fighters. For too long I grew weary of playing the same re-skinned, broken Smackdown! game every year while friends would tell me, “no really, this one is different”.
Yes, I’m one of those No Mercy fans and was therefore never really impressed by Yukes‘ Playstation offerings, despite my love for everything related to the squared circle.
WWE ’13 uses the second iteration of the ‘Predator Technology” engine, first seen in WWE ’12, and delivers a solid and competent wrestling experience.
Playing the game now feels tighter than ever, with enough leeway for beginners as well as enough density for hardcore fans to sink their teeth into. While the game now plays better than any other in the series, it is by no means perfect.
Like so many other wrestling games before it, WWE ’13 doesn’t quite do that. For instance, to reverse moves the right trigger needs to be pressed at exactly the correct time. This sounds all well and good, but absolutely any move can be reversed and at any time.
This can lead to cheap and unfair incidents during gameplay. An opponent shouldn’t be able to immediately stand up and land a move after taking three consecutive finishers.
It doesn’t ruin the game by any means but this sort of thing could do with some tightening up in future releases.
The Showcase Of The Immortals
THQ and Yuke’s have really gone all out with the main single player experience this year. Accompanying WWE Universe mode, the template campaign for wrestling games, is the truly five star experience known as the Attitude Era. Here, the rise of the WWF/WWE to total sports entertainment dominance between 1997-1999 has been translated into one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a wrestling game.
As soon as Attitude Era is selected from the top menu, WWE ’13 transports us back in time.
Hell, one of the first videos shown is the original Raw intro video. With video montages, Good Ol’ J.R. on commentary and a time line tracking the ratings between the WWE and WCW, it is immediately apparent that an inordinate amount of care and attention has been poured into Attitude Era.
Are You Ready?
Progression through Attitude Era sees the player take control of all the greats from this incredible time in wrestling. We are taken on a journey through the rise of DX, the McMahon/Austin feud and Mankind’s many run-ins with The Rock.
Not only is this great for wrestling fans of my age to relive but it’s also such a comprehensive history lesson for younger wrestling fans who may not be fully aware of what happened fifteen years ago.
During these historical matches, extra unlocks can be earned by completing ‘historical objectives’. These perfectly capture some of the most memorable mid-match incidents in the form of quick time events as well as specific player actions. For instance, it may not be enough to pin Vince McMahon, you may have to throw him through a window first.
The Best There Is
There has been such a close attention to detail here, and it’s really impressed me. So many classic arenas have been meticulously recreated and each minor characteristic has been faithfully crafted with great care. Even the omnipresent WWE logo in the bottom right corner will change depending on the year.
There are so many characters and entrances, it really is wrestler geek heaven. For example, the music Mankind had for around two weeks in-between his classic ‘Ode to Freud’ and his current ‘Wreck’ tracks is actually in there. Incredible.
J.R. and King reprise their roles as the greatest wrestling commentary team of all time, both in re-recorded and archival form. This little aesthetic change makes all the difference in the world and completes the illusion of being back in 1998.
It may have seen like a cynical move to cash in on the Attitude Era, but the WWE ’13 as a whole really shines because of it. Recreating classic incidents surrounded by the exact look and atmosphere that we remember is amazing. All wrestling fans worth their salt absolutely must check out this game because of it.
Feed Me More?
WWE Universe mode feels barren and dead in comparison to Attidude Era. This is the wrestling career mode we’ve all seen so many times before; control or skip matches in weekly WWE programming in an infinite loop. I suppose this is fine being that we have Attitude Era, but a little more detail could have been incorporated here.
When adding a created wrestler to Universe Mode, the age old problems rear their ugly head. One week, the imaginary superstar may well be in the main event on Raw, only to be in an undercard triple threat match on Superstars the next week. This has never made any sense and, while on the quest to become the WWE champion, can become very frustrating.
There are so many modes here, an area in which Yuke’s has always excelled; from ‘I Quit’ matches to Elimination Chambers. Hell in a Cell matches are incredible this time around. Fighting Undertaker on top of the cell at Wrestlemania may well be one of gaming highlights of the year. The term ‘epic gets thrown around these days, but here, it just may apply.
WWE ’13 remains an excellent multiplayer experience. Online matchmaking is fairly proficient, although I experienced more than one menu screen freeze. Although there’s nothing quite like being called a, ‘fag’ by a young American boy over Xbox Live, the real way to play wrestling games has always been locally. WWE ’13 remains a fantastic party game.
Attention to detail?
There are some great new additions to WWE ’13 other than Attitude Era. Anything can be created in this game, from superstars to arenas. The attention to detail in the arena creation is staggering, allowing almost everything on screen to be customised, including the colour of the announce table.
It’s a shame the same cannot be said about create-a-superstar or the very well hidden create-a-title. There are, as always with this series, highly limited costumes on offer here, existing Superstars’ costumes can’t even be worn. There is such great attention to detail in other aspects of the game it makes areas like this seem all the more lacking.
Also, it seems as if most of the Attitude Era content is only accessible within the mode itself. Attitude Era costumes, entrances and music cannot be used on existing superstars or custom characters. Why is this so?
All of the content is already in the game, why not make it accessible in every mode? Hardcore wrestling fans can and will spend hours customising and updating their games. Please give them as much to work with as possible. You can’t select JR’s commentary outside of Attitude Era mode either.
That Damn Good?
Everything that can be created can also then be shared through the game’s community adding extra longevity, as expected. While create modes are common staples in wrestling games, WWE ’13 boasts several new gameplay mechanics.
OMG! moments are brand new and allow for all kinds of carnage; from driving your opponent through the barrier surrounding the ring to breaking the ring itself.
Not every new idea in WWE ’13 quite pan out, however. The ‘I Quit Bar’ should’ve been a simple feature but has been given very sloppy execution. The ability to perform, ‘Infinite Pins’ is another great idea, but has absolutely no practical purpose.
At it’s core though, WWE ’13 is still a flawed experience. The A.I. still leaves a lot to be desired and will, on occasion, stand completely still. Tag team partners unbelievably will still not save you from pins at times, too.
The game also seems to only have one difficulty; once you’ve mastered normal, you’ve mastered them all. It sometimes stumbles graphically too; weapon hits still look clunky when compared to the fluid move animations. Outside of Attitude Era, the whole game could still do with a higher level of polish.
The Bottom Line
That is, after all, the point of video games and THQ’s latest offering keeps me coming back for more.
Attitude Era was clearly crafted by die hard wrestling fans for die hard wrestling fans, and beneath all of it lies a solid playing experience.
WWE ’13 is, therefore, a triumph and truly supersedes the other entries in the series that came before it.