The latest wrestling game has recently grappled its way onto store shelves, and with the yearly release we can expect some refinements and all-new additions, as WWE ’13 adopts a new – or rather, old direction and it does so with great Attitude.
THQ’s long-running SmackDown series, later named SmackDown vs. Raw may be well over a decade old, dating back to the original PlayStation era, and although with last year’s name change to the much shorter and adequately named WWE ’12, this year’s release in WWE ’13 signifies the change much more prominently, and brings with it some tried and tested features from past years that goes some way to making WWE ’13 the best wrestling game in recent years.
Sports games typically see yearly releases and this grapple-fest is no different, for a series that’s been running as long as THQ’s WWE entries have done, there’s always the fear that things can become somewhat stale and subsequently lacking a driving force behind the game’s design and direction. While that may hold true for some past games, what THQ have managed to pull off for WWE ’13 is quite remarkable, and it’s taken their past experience, not just with the WWE SmackDown series, but the WWE games that fall outside that category, such as Legends Of WrestleMania; which has clearly inspired the all new direction for WWE ’13 and makes for a much more prosperous future going forwards.
The big driving force behind WWE ’13 is the all new Attitude Era mode. Much like THQ’s past outing in Legends of WrestleMania, this mode focuses on classic matches combined with actual archive video footage, and as the name of the mode suggests this focuses on WWE’s 90′s to early 2000 period that’s often referred to as the Attitude Era.
Past games have featured the rather unique Road to WrestleMania mode for a number of years, although WWE ’13 taps this mode out and kicks it to the curb, which is admittedly a little disappointing, but it does so in favour of the all-new Attitude Era mode, which certainly has plenty to keep you busy.
In a similar vein to the old Return to WrestleMania mode, there are certain Superstars era’s to focus on including Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, the event WrestleMania XV and the rise of D-Generation X amongst others. All enable you to relive and re-play these matches with actual classic footage, and recreate the authenticity of the match with in-game objectives to follow with in-game cinematics cleverly interwoven into the gameplay. There is also specific classic commentary, not forgetting the quick-time events to keep you on your toes and recreate those iconic moments.
The Attitude Era – as any wrestling fan will attest to - was without doubt the greatest time to be an avid fan and viewer of the World Wrestling Feder… uh, Entertainment programming, and for those who were not avid viewers back in the day, WWE ’13 provides an entertaining and historic account of wrestling’s greatest era that makes WWE ’13 difficult to put down.
For all its new direction and promise that such a title change brings, it’s still very much the same game series of the past, besides the Attitude Era, the core mechanics first altered in WWE ’12 have returned and are reworked for this latest outing.
It’s by no means perfect, and many of the issues that have been present for several years are still very much so, from rehashed one-liners in commentary, to the typical and expected roster changes, though where it counts most in intuitive gameplay and overall feature-set; WWE ’13 is most certainly king of the ring.
All the modes are there, including the simulation based WWE Universe to sink hours upon hours into, though if quick matches and choice are your thing, then there’s the plethora of iconic match-types and options available under Exhibition, to a revamped Create suite to tinker and make your own Storyline, Superstar, Entrance video, Move-set and Arena, and share it all online with others, that is before you pummel your rivals in online competition.
While several past outings were good, with WWE ’13, it seems like everything has finally come together to create this generation’s greatest wrestling game. If you’ve played all the games over the years, then WWE ’13 isn’t so likely to reinvigorate your interest too greatly, though if the past games were baby steps leading upto this moment, then WWE ’13 is certainly the turning point for the series, and a great entry and re-entry point for both old and current fans alike.
8.5 – Review by Wayne Julian