Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls; Children of all ages; Tonight THQ proudly brings to you, for the 15th time, the annual WWE game release. WWE ’13. Before we start, we just need to know one thing. Are you ready? I said Are. You. Ready? Then for the thousands in attendance; and the millions playing this game around the world. Lets get ready to revieeeeeeeeeeeew it.
With a new engine under the hood and the ditching of the brand warfare inspired titles, last years release WWE ’12 was a leap forward for the series. Apart from a number of annoying glitches – it’s a little difficult to suplex another human being when they are somehow stuck inside the middle of a piece of furniture – you also had to be a current fan to ensure you wasn’t overly lost.
Glitches are easy to fix but trying to make a wrestling game accessible to the masses certainly isn’t. Maybe THQ realise this, maybe they don’t but what they can, and have done is include the period of wrestling history when wrestling had the biggest impact on mainstream pop culture.
The two main modes in WWE ’13 are WWE universe mode and the Attitude Era mode which is a direct replacement for the Road to Wrestlemania mode; a mode that has been a fixture in WWE games for the last 5 years.
Before we delve too far into this mode I should explain what the Attitude Era was. The Attitude Era was a period in WWE history that began during the Monday Night Wars: a television ratings conflict between the WWE and long-time rival promotion WCW that lasted from September 1995 to March 2001, when the WWE acquired WCW. The Attitude Era was defined by a radical shift in programming content. In contrast to the more traditional family-friendly content that was common in WWE programming by transforming the product into an edgier form of entertainment.
The Attitude Era mode allows you to play a number of iconic matches and historic WWE moments which took place during this period. From the creation and rise of Degeneration X, the birth of a legend in Austin 3:16, the role The Rock and Mankind had on re-establishing the WWE as the dominant promotion and finally the events that led up to Wrestlemania XV.
Over the course of 65 matches you will have bonus objectives in each match ranging from the simple “win by pinfall” down to the downright awkward “Make the ring collapse” which will allow you to unlock over 100 items in total from bonus wrestlers to different attires and from classic arenas to bonus matches. Although you don’t have to complete these bonus objectives the “collectors” amongst us will find this very hard to resist and will probably find themselves repeating the match up just for that extra tick in the box.
If you have been a fan of the WWE for many years you will enjoy the nostalgia trip in playing some of the most important moments in WWE’s history. Likewise if you are a new fan you will enjoy the history lesson of what events shaped the current landscape of your viewing. This along with the sheer variety of wrestlers you are given to control during the entirety of the mode makes this a refreshing change to the series.
WWE Universe mode expands on WWE ‘12s iteration by allowing you much more control. IN WWE ’13 you can tweak Superstars, brands, crowd reactions, as well as universe stories and programmes. Making a welcome return to this mode are both the Statistics and the ranking system, with historical information, title records and current record holders all being tracked. With the options and changes it is possible to make, it allows for over 200 new storylines to be added into the mix. THQ have also added a reset button into WWE Universe mode for when it just becomes a little too confusing which allows you to carry on from your current position but with all of your tweaks reset back to their defaults.
The WWE ’13 roster contains 47 playable characters from the get go and an additional 34 characters unlocked dependant on your progress throughout the Attitude Era mode which amounts to the largest ever roster in a WWE game. Although a lot of the characters are various interpretations of the same person – Attitude Era Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Degeneration X Triple H and current era Triple H for example. Obviously to even this out a little a multitude of new characters have also been announced for future DLC packs.
The characters look almost the same as they did last year with some liberal amounts of polish being added as everything looks and feels slicker in WWE ’13. Due to this the matches are more fun to watch and are more comparable to their real life counterpart in every way. The entrances in WWE ’13 are pretty close to perfection and you have to stop to realise that you playing a game and not watching a pay per view. WWE ’13 also recreates some of the classic entrances and interview segments from the attitude era.
The controls in WWE ’13 have been simplified which means that although you have to relearn the control system it won’t take you much longer than a few matches to get fully up to speed. Attacks seem to auto target much easier and the limb targeting system introduced in WWE ‘12 makes a welcome return in WWE ’13 allowing you activate holds like a pro with very little effort.
Reversals have always been a big part of the WWE franchise and it has always been something that I have struggled with. WWE ’13 helps a player realise the timing required for reversals much more than in previous iterations with text appearing on screen to inform if the reversal was successful, too fast or too slow. After a while it becomes instinct as to when to hit the reversal trigger rather than looking at the text for advice.
One of the biggest and most enjoyable aspects of the WWE franchise since its inception has been the create mode and it is little surprise that this mode returns again this year. Once again the create mode has seen marked improvements in its flexibility with additional layers and items added to the wrestlers, right down to kick pads on your shins. As always you can customise the stage and “TitanTron” and even make your own championship belts.
WWE ’13 is more than an annual iteration of a franchise; it makes everything better overall. The new Attitude Era is a welcome addition to the single player campaign and the Universe mode is as good as always. The polish that has been applied to the wrestler animations makes the game much more pleasing to watch. Couple this with the most expansive roster ever and you have, quite possibly, the greatest WWE game of this generation and if you’re not down with that, we got two words for ya.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Platform: Xbox 360 / PS3 Release Date: 2/11/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a copy of WWE ‘13 for review purposes by the promotor. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.