There’s a large subsection of WWE fans that have been demanding the return to the more adult Attitude Era, and more and more have grown increasingly tired of the current PG era full of do-gooders like John Cena, and watered down, pantomime villains like the Miz.
Some superstars, such as this year’s video game cover boy, CM Punk, have been given storylines to try and shake things up a bit, with the Second City Saint’s ‘pipe bomb’ storyline of last year being particularly effective, but the WWE still remains very family oriented.
With the ‘real life’ WWE still sticking firmly to it’s PG guns, it’s nice, then, to see that the next outing of the long-running WWE games has decided to give fans what they want, and the key highlight of this year’s release is the return of the Attitude Era.
As always, this year’s WWE release has a selection of improvements and new features, which I’ll come to later, but the inclusion of the Attitude Era is going to be the real draw for long-time WWE fans. Replacing the Road to Wrestlemania mode, the Attitude Era brings back a selection of the WWE’s best storylines, and the mode is split into various sections. The first story, ‘The Rise of DX’ kicks things off, and is followed by such inclusions as Austin 3:16, the Brothers of Destruction, The Rock and Wrestlemania XV. Each section is a selection of iconic matches, interspersed with historical information and archive footage.
Each match in the mode lets you relive highpoints of WWE history, including such standouts as the Montreal Screwjob, which is reproduced with surprising attention to detail, and the selection should please hardcore WWE purists.
Each match comes with a general win conditions, as well as optional ‘historical goals’. Succeed in nailing all goals and you’ll unlock some of the game’s mass of unlockable content, including new wrestlers, rings, outfits and so on. These optional goals may be to put someone through a table, get disqualified in a specific way or something more specific, such as throwing Bret Hart out of the ring toward the announcer tables whilst the ref is distracted.
It’s a great mode, and not only do the challenges make for a more enjoyable experience, but the stroll down WWE’s grittier memory lane and the inclusion of a large selection of Attitude Era stars really makes this a stand out instalment.
Outside of the Attitude Era content, WWE ’13 has undergone the usual flurry of tweaks, although none stand out as entirely amazing. Additions to the game’s unparalleled creative modes are welcome, such as additional layers and the ability to customise the Titantron and stage area, and there are a couple of new games modes, including I Quit matches and King of the Ring tournament.
The WWE Universe mode has been improved once again, and now grants you more control over the storylines and how they will unfold, and there’s a bevy of statistics to be found here too. Creative freedom is also more, ahem… free, and you can use much more created content in Universe now, such as custom shows and rings.
It remains the best mode of the game, and one that will keep players hooked until next year’s release. The storylines, helped along by WWE’s Paul Heyman are better and feel more natural, although there’s still a great deal or repetitive cut scenes.
As for actual combat, this has also seen a few refinements thanks to an upgraded Predator engine. The whole thing seems, once again, that little bit smoother, but alas, still suffers from some terrible glitching and poor collision detection. The limb grappling system works well enough, and the addition of ‘OMG!’ moments, such as hitting a spear to send an opponent through the ring barricades, smashing them into the announce tables or even smashing the entire ring with a heavyweight superplex add to the spectacle. And, at long last Yukes’ has included a limitation of sorts on who can lift giants. So, ridiculous sights such as lightweights like Rey Mysterio lifting the Big Show are now a thing of the past.
Matches now also last longer, with a more realistic damage level, and wrestlers will take more damage before limping around and be harder to pin. This is great, but the AI’s seemingly godlike ability to reverse everything, even when suffering from a nigh-on mortal injury can often be a little frustrating. Still, the WWE is full of moments when a battered down superstar launches an unfeasible comeback, so it’s hard to knock the game for that. In fact, the comeback system returns too, giving losing players a chance to turn the tide.
One the whole, although the combat is still as shonky as it’s always been at times, despite the dev’s best efforts, this is the most polished it’s been for a long time, and this is a much more enjoyable outing.
As seen on TV
When it comes to Presentation, the WWE games have been getting stronger and stronger as the years have gone by and WWE ’13 is no different. Visually things look much the same, albeit a little glossier with some nice soft shading, but the audio is a big improvement here.
The new ‘WWE Live’ system greatly enhances the crowd response, and both entrances and actual matches now look and sound much more like the real thing. This has all but eliminated the flat feel of matches and events, and it really does give the whole experience a much needed boost. That said, the commentary, although better, is still sorely lacking, and the constant repeated lines eventually start to grate badly.
WWE ’13 is another strong effort from Yukes and THQ, and this years outing boasts some stand out additions and modes, and is generally a much more polished and true to life representation of the real life spectacle. The massive roster of over 100 superstars and divas, along with the return to the Attitude Era, not to mention an improved Universe mode and excellent presentation means that this is arguably the best WWE title yet. There’s still plenty of glitch fixing and refinement of the core mechanics the devs seem to incessantly ignore year after year, but aside from this, this is a solid grappler.