The WWE franchise has become an annual event for wrestling enthusiasts around the world, providing fans of the sport a realistic take on the spectacle. WWE ’13 looks to take us back to the most influential time in the industry, with its new emphasis on the Attitude Era. Providing gamers with a great history lesson of the WWE and the Monday Night Wars, which occurred in the late 90’s. Giving fans the best looking WWE game yet, along with a plethora of customization options 13 had a chance to become the greatest wrestling game ever made. WWE ’13 provides a great experience and is a great dedication to the era that made wrestling what it is today, but lots technical issues and lack of emphasis on current WWE proceedings, make this feel like a spin-off rather than a sequel.
WWE ’13 provides the best looking entry in the series, sure crowds are still ignored and they look quite average, but the rest of the product looks great. The arenas look like their real life counterparts and the vintage arenas look just as good. The superstars on the other hand range from the perfected versions of The Rock, Undertaker and Triple H, to some that look awful. Brodus Clay looks like Chunky Kong, Vince McMahon looks like Nintendo’s Reggie. Presentation wise the menus are basic, but this works very well, the basic menu structure gets you where to go fast, well relatively. The load times within 13 are a little annoying at moments, some almost done instantly and others, taking about 30 seconds. This becomes a problem in Create a Storyline, the loading from previewing your current selections back to the menu were very long, eventually taking its toll on my Storyline, which now is left unfinished.
THQ has imported a lot of the dialogue audio into the Attitude Era mode from the original broadcasts of the matches you compete in. This importation of sound means that there is a great deal of audio level problems, some dialogue will be missed when crowds are cheering, while some will become so loud your TV will need to be lowered. These sound issues also make their way into gameplay, with many weapon shots missing any audio at all, hitting an opponent face first with a chair shot with no audio, takes away the ferocity of the action. With the recorded audio and the main menu being greeted by 100% WWE themes from across the decades, it seems like sound did not get much attention this year. The themes are cool to enjoy, but I was also a huge fan of WWE games providing me with a great list of musical talent with their unique sounding soundtracks.
Gameplay is the most important thing in a wrestling game, if it doesn’t control well, then you will lose interest fast. I am happy to say the gameplay feels smooth, the reversal system seems to revolve around an emphasis on timing compared to previous titles, and constantly mashing the reverse button will not help you. It also feels like the “Pint-point” body option allows for much more variety in the moves department. When in a grapple hold R1/RB to bring up the option to pin-point, legs, arms or the opponents head, this allows gamers to become technical and fight to their characters strengths. Ankle Lock finisher? Aim for the legs. After 100 + matches you may find the gameplay to be repetitive, but the options of various difficulty levels and competitive online offer some variety. Physics is still one factor THQ cannot seem to get right however, chairs will fly into the rafters to land many seconds later, superstars will fall over objects mid maneuver, although it works most of the time, hopefully this is something that next generation can fix.
WWE ’13’s main addition is the Attitude Era story mode, this replaces the usual story mode that fans have become accustomed too. The mode allows you to play pivotal moments of WWE’s history through the main culprits of the Attitude Era, such as D-Generation X, Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind and The Brothers of Destruction. These storylines seamlessly intertwine, with some vintage WWE videos helping explain the story elements of each match, these definitely have the quality of WWE promotional videos and that is great to see. This mode provides a great history lesson to new fans who may not know why Triple H and Undertaker are so huge in this current age of wrestling.
One of the technically supreme elements of this mode is the simple transition from in-game cut scene to actual gameplay, this is almost on the standard of Max Payne 3. You will see the cut scene take place and then you are right there, in the same positions ready to continue the action. Playing Attitude Era also allows players to unlock titles, arenas, superstars and some vintage WWE photos and video clips. You unlock these by beating Historical challenges within each match, basically playing out the match exactly how it did in real life. These Historical moments can include Attitude moments, which are quicktime events that revolve around certain events. These can be confusing because you are never shown what these events include, so unlocking some items will likely include a quick internet search to find out what is needed. The mode is fun and remembering these classic matches is great, but it feels like this mode should have been added along with the usual WWE story mode of current day. The current 2012 crop of superstars feel greatly unappreciated and for those who purchase these annually for the roster updates and new current storylines for the likes of CM Punk Randy Orton or John Cena, will be slightly disappointed by their lack of attention.
The majority of your time will be spent in the Attitude Era mode which for a basically run through can take about 10 hours, but for those wanting 100% of the game unlocked expect that to almost double. WWE Universe makes a return, with the upgraded Universe 3.0. This mode allows you to either play or simulate an entire season, editing what matches take place and making up your own feuds as you go along. The mode itself has always felt very barebones to me, I was a huge GM Mode fan back in the day and spend countless hours managing my roster, but Universe just doesn’t have that same addictiveness. Playing each match to get a small storyline cut scene, which from my experiences are pre-match attacks, post match attacks along or such scenes of that nature, nothing really in-depth or important occurs. Defeating Attitude Mode unlocks story feud packs, but what they actually do is not explained well and they didn’t seem to add anything to the mode. I personally would have preferred a handful of current superstar storylines, rather than Universe, but I can see some players enjoying this mode just as much as they have previously with the ability to freely edit every match and its participants on each card.
The usual creation suite returns with the ability to create new match types, move-sets, finishers, arenas, logos, entrances and of course your own created superstar. Superstar creation works fine and the amount of options is more than enough to create some realistic superstars, however the amount of layers on a superstar seems smaller this year. Also one minor problem I had was not being able to edit the superstars face for their entrance attire, for example the superstar I create in every game wears sunglasses during his entrance, but unless I want them on during matches I have to go without, this isn’t a big issue but was slightly odd.Most of the modes provide some good content, but the way they work feels more difficult than it should be. The general consumer will find their patience tested trying to create a logo with it’s over cumbersome way of erasing items. All these modes have great potential to provide gamers with an amazing amount of creation power. If given the amount of time needed to flesh these modes out further, they could easily become a great selling point of the franchise, but they still don’t seem to hit the mark yet.
WWE ’13 is actually most fun online, I was surprised by how much fun I was having playing against online opponents. They provide a challenge that is not as overwhelming as Legend difficulty, but on the exact level of ability you want for a decent challenge. Some of my most memorable moments from my 20+ hours with the game came from the online experience, you can play one on one matches, Elimination Chambers and even online Royal Rumbles. Lag was never an issue and once you were in game, everything ran smoothly, except it was the getting into a match that was a problem.The issue? No one is playing. This is not the games fault because the online is extremely fun, but the fact no one is playing will make waiting for a match easily more than a few minutes. But when you finally make a game and continue playing with the same bunch of opponents, the experience can provide hours of online entertainment.
WWE ’13 provides a mixed bag, the graphics are as good as this generation can really provide wrestling fans and the addition of Attitude Era mode is the best dedication to the yester years of wrestling. If you are a fan of the legends you grew up with in the WWE, this mode will have your excitement levels turned up to eleven. The lack of current day storylines however does make this game almost feel like a spin-off title rather than the latest edition in the series, but the Attitude mode will be enough for some fans. Creation modes feel decent, but lack the opportunity to become innovative and the online mode provides a great deal of fun for players. However the amount of audio issues and physics based bugs really does take you out of the experience. THQ tries to push the premise of realism, but when chairs fly to the rafters and Kane trips up on stairs on his own, it feels like simple issues that could have been addressed.
WWE ’13 does many things right, but many sub-par aspects keep this from reaching the heights of previous titles such as Here Comes the Pain. Maybe next generation will provide the boost, the franchise needs to set the videogame wrestling world on fire.
- Attitude Era delivers great experience
- Relive classic storylines
- Fun online multiplayer
- Loads to unlock
- Physics problems
- Audio issues
- Lackluster creation suite
- Current superstars forgotten
Jamie Briggs runs Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and their videos on YouTube.