It’s about that time of year again for THQ to unleash their latest version of the WWE franchise on an unsuspecting audience, but what can they drag out the woodwork this year to impress the fans who’ve been waiting patiently since “Here Comes The Pain” for the franchise to come good? Is this finally going to be the year where everything clicks into place and we get the game we so deserve, or is it simply gonna be another case of “let’s just update the roster and hope nobody notices”? The lovely folks at THQ and Wrestling101.com furnished me with a copy of the game, so let’s slap it in the slot and do it to it!
So I love wrestling games. From the moment I first tentatively approached the WrestleFest arcade machine in my old local video store and pumped a big old 10p piece in the slot, I’ve been hooked. I’ve stuck with the games through the good times (classics like No Mercy & Here Comes the Pain) and the bad (WrestleMania the Arcade Game, anyone?), I even paid cash money for both Day of Reckoning games on the Gamecube (I think there was me and maybe six other guys), so where does this year’s incarnation stack up in the ever growing pantheon of grapple-a-thons?
Okay, time to slap this disc in the tray of my 360 and press play…and the first thing I hear is Triple H’s entrance music. Goddamnit WWE 13, I was expecting “Cult of Personality” at least. Right, I’m gonna go back to the dashboard, and we’re gonna try this again…
Drew MacIntyre’s music. I can’t help but feel this game is mocking me now. Nevertheless I shall persevere. Honestly, it looks very pretty. The immediate menu is nicely laid out, and everything is easy enough to find. I’m just gonna jump straight into a match so we can see how this all looks, so who do I want to kick the snot out of? Ladies and Gentlemen, CM Punk is about to go one-on-one with…Jinder Mahal.
Ooooh, this is all very nice. The camera angles, the arena, the lighting, it all looks exactly like a WWE production. There’s even the little WWELive!! and #RAW watermarks on the screen. The sound is fantastically clear, and the crowd is large enough that the repeats in crowd animation aren’t anywhere near as noticeable as they used to be. All in all, this looks pretty damn great so fa…what the hell is wrong with CM Punk’s face?!
I thought Punk was supposed to be the cover star? You’d assume in that case that he’d be the one character model they actually put effort into. This virtual Punk doesn’t look nearly as sleep deprived and strung out as my beloved Punker does in real life. They’ve prettied him up! Gosh I hope this isn’t what they’ve done for everyone. Well I’ll be damned, Jinder Mahal looks really good. In fact they’ve done such a good job of recreating Jinder Mahal it’s actually making me want to quit this game so I don’t have to look at his stupid face anymore. In fact, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go view a few more entrances and see how they compare to their real life counterparts…
Well hot damn THQ. You’ve actually put some effort into this year’s version, haven’t you? I mean there are still some character models which have obviously been phoned in, but for the most part everyone looks and acts exactly how they do on TV. It looks like the days of only really concentrating on the top 6 main guys are long gone, which is a great sign. So far so good.
Okay, so we all know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover (which is silly, because books usually have descriptions on the covers these days, but I digress), so let’s get ourselves thrown into a game here. Wow, there’s a LOT of options here. We’ve got Championship Scramble, Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, Inferno Match, Royal Rumble, I Quit, King of the Ring, TLC, and a myriad of different combinations you can apply to tag matches, one-on-ones, and triple threats.
Add to that the fact that you can literally customise every facet of your match in the following options menu, and there’s a whole wide world of violence out there waiting for you to jump right in and beat someone around the head with it. In fact this is a pretty deep and immersive experience, if you’re willing to put the time in. The Create options are back allowing you to not only create a superstar, you can create their entrance, their entrance video, their moveset and special moves, you can even create the arena you want them to wrestle in, the story they’ll be involved in, and the title that they’ll end up holding once you’re story is done. I have spent literally hours trawling through menus crafting moves, arenas, storylines, and I’m still nowhere near done with what I want to do.
Don’t want to go into quite so much detail? Well how about running the entire year of WWE programming exactly how you want it? That’s right WWE Universe mode returns, with you able to control exactly what the WWE Universe will see from week to week. Again this is a mode where you’ll get out however much you’re willing to put in, and will yet again eat up your time without you even realising. There’s something suitably satisfying about taking your created superstar through the whole year, ticking off the big moments along the way. Want to win Money in the Bank? Check. Want to cash that briefcase in anytime you like for any title? Check. Want to enter the Royal Rumble at #1 and go on to win the thing? Check (if you’re lucky…). You literally craft your own WWE Universe to lead you up to WrestleMania.
I know, I know, it’s all very well and good having these modes, but it means nothing if the gameplay isn’t there. Both a strength and a weakness of this year’s iteration is that the gameplay doesn’t appear to be all that much different from WWE 12. Admittedly this is most likely due to the new “predator” system only being added to the game last year, but when you really strip everything back it’s pretty much same game we’ve been playing since the late 90’s. Just with better graphics, more moves, and slicker animations. I dunno, part of me thinks it’s time for a change, but then another part of me remembers TNA Impact the Video Game, and then I feel a bit sick and all of a sudden having an update of the same game each year doesn’t seem that bad.
For what it’s worth, the game plays well. It’s slightly clunky in places, sure the hit detection can be ever so slightly flakey at times, but it’s still a blast to play, and the new OMG! moments are pretty spectacular to finally achieve. Basically if you’ve played any of the WWE games over the last couple of years, then it’s generally more of the same, but now it’s a lot more polished and rounded (although you’d think with how long they’ve churned these games out, they’ve have the formula perfected by now). Again the camera angles are lifted directly from WWE television, so when you hit a 5 Knuckle Shuffle you get exactly the same view of it as you would watching John Cena perform the move on Raw. WWE have allowed THQ access to all things WWE, and all credit to THQ, they’ve replicated it all pretty much perfectly.
But enough of me skirting around the REAL reason you’re reading this review. Let’s have a look at the main selling point of this year’s edition…Attitude Era mode.
Attitude Era Mode
Hey, remember when wrestling wasn’t just average to good? Remember when wrestling was AMAZING? Well it doesn’t matter (as the Rock used to say) if you missed it first time round, because WWE are giving you the opportunity to relive the best moments from the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars.
Well, within reason anyways. They say history is written by the winners, and there’s no doubt that’s the case here. There’s quite a few notable absences that have been glossed over in the great WWE history rewrites, there’s no Rick Rude or Chyna in D-X, and for some reason the Undertaker isn’t in full blown Ministry of Darkness mode (which admittedly is being released as DLC in the near future), but I’m willing to overlook it because of the nostalgia trip this whole mode sends me on.
WWE & THQ have really pushed the boat out here, fleshing out some of WWE’s greatest moments with cut scenes animated to the original audio from back in the day. Sure it’s a little annoying that they constantly cut the “F” out of anyone mentioning “WWF”, but that’s just a small thing. The main thing about this mode is just how much fun it is reliving all these moments from my younger days. And it is. It’s ridiculously fun. Like super vast amazing amounts of fun. The reason this review has taken so long is because I’ve had to have the control pad literally pried from my grasp to stop me playing, it’s that addictive.
The mode is laid out in several chapters based around the duration of the Monday Night Wars and some of it’s biggest stars, beginning with the genesis of D-Generation X and the Montreal Screwjob, running through the emergence of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the debut of Kane, the Rock’s journey to Corporate Champion, and his subsequent clashes with Mankind, right until Vinnie Mac buying WCW. Seeing as how WWE own the rights to EVERYTHING these days, it’s kind of a shame that they couldn’t tell the WCW side of the story too, but I’ll take what I’m given because the Attitude Era Mode is that damn good. Besides, they need something to put into WWE 14, am I right?
Most of the matches in Attitude Era Mode have a series of additional objectives for you to complete, which is a welcome change from the normal “win this match” directive and comes with the added bonus of giving you access to the plethora of unlockables on offer. Completing challenges will make other Attitude Era characters such as Chris Jericho, Edge & Christian, Bret Hart, and other (non-Canadian) wrestlers playable, as well as giving you bonus matches, new arenas, and old title belts (yes, the Hardcore Title, Austin’s Smoking Skull Belt, and Rock’s Brahma Bull version all make an appearance, along with much, much more). Some of these objectives require a degree of perseverance to pull off, I personally had particular trouble with the New Age Outlaws vs. Legion of Doo…sorry “Road Warriors” match. Completing these goals becomes somewhat all-encompassing if you’re a completist like me, but I have to admit that not once did this feel like a chore. I swore at the TV a couple of times, but it was the good kind of frustration that had me instantly restarting the match, determined to smack Hawk in the BLEEPing head with that motherBLEEPing title belt.
WWE 13 is a helluva lot of fun, and seems to definitely have more longevity to it than previous WWE titles. I’d actually go as far to say that WWE 12 only existed as a kind of prelude to WWE 13. It’s taken everything that was good about WWE 12 and improved on it, while polishing some edges, dropping some of the bad points, and creating an immersive experience fit for any member of the WWE Universe. And even if the whole “WWE Universe” thing doesn’t work for you, then you have the amazingly addictive Attitude Era Mode to relive the glory days.
So the question you’re asking is “should I buy this game?” Well…yes, frankly. It’s great for the kids who’s knowledge of wrestling starts and ends with John Cena, (and gives them a slight education to boot), while for us older folks (and by that I mean those outside their teens) it allows us to look back at the boom period of wrestling with our rose tinted glasses on.
The game certainly has it’s flaws, but it has more than enough good points to make the bad seem insignificant to the overall package. With the game set to be expanded with additional DLC for both the current generation and the Attitude Era, there’s even more to make me want to keep playing this game. Which is the first time in a loooong time I’ve been able to say that about a WWE game. It’s a nice feeling, so nice that I’m not even gonna ask myself where THQ go from here, I’m just gonna sit back and enjoy this while I can.
If you’re one of those people who need a mark out of 10 to inform you of whether you should buy a game or not, then I give this a resounding 8.5.
WWE 13 is a solid game, but there’s still room for improvement. That being said, the Attitude Era Mode alone makes this worth a purchase, so why not try it out? You might remember why you like wrestling so much to begin with?
Points: 8.5 / 10
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