Can you smell it, brother?! Chris is back with another wrestling review, this time for WWE '13.
Last year, the WWE series underwent a significant overhaul. What was formerly the SmackDown! Series, dating all the way back to the PSone, was rebranded as WWE ’12. Along with the name change, fairly major changes were also made to the gameplay systems and overall presentation. While WWE ’12 was certainly a step in the right direction, it still suffered from some nagging problems, not to mention a downright broken online system. Now, THQ hopes to put all those stumbling blocks behind them as they release WWE ’13.
|3 versions of Triple H! Happy day!|
Developed by Japanese developer Yuke’s for all these years, WWE ’13 is mostly a simulation style representation of the wild world of pro wrestling, far more grounded in reality than games like WWE All-Stars. Featuring all the stars you’d expect from a WWE game, WWE ’13 also positions itself as a vehicle for nostalgic twentysomethings to relive the glory days of the Attitude era. The roster is split in two, with nearly as many Superstars of the past as there are current wrestlers. This serves well to nostalgic fans of yesteryear, but also shows just how bland some of the current WWE Superstars are. In what world do Bret Hart and Jinder Mahal belong in the same game?
Replacing the Road to Wrestlemania mode that has been present in the past few WWE games, WWE ’13 offers players the chance to relive the WWE as it was from 1996-2000 via the Attitude Era story mode. This is really where the real meat of the game lies, and it is a massive improvement over the stiffly-acted, oddly paced story modes of games before. Featuring video packages produced by the WWE, the Attitude Era mode serves as a history lesson for younger gamers, as well as a rose-tinted version of what us old folks used to love about wrestling. It’s easy to forget that while guys like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were kicking ass, there was also chumps like the Headbangers and Meat stinking up Monday nights. Fortunately, WWE ’13 only features the best of the best.
The wealth of classic wrestlers available does come at a price though. Today’s stars like C.M. Punk and John Cena are readily available for body scanning, and as such, their character models look great. Unfortunately, it’s not really possible for Shawn Michaels circa 1997 to be accurately scanned, so many of the Attitude era guys stand out as being far more cartoony and rubber-faced than their modern counterparts. This isn’t really that big a deal when all participants in a match are from the same time period, but mixing the rosters throws the graphical disparity into stark relief.
Once into a match, WWE ’13 plays a LOT like WWE ’12. So much so, that sometimes, well often, it feels like the same game. Little touches have been added, such as reversal indicators letting the player know if their button presses are timed well or not. Irish whips have been re-tooled to allow wrestlers to be thrown out of the ring more easily, and it works rather well. It’s fairly easy to get a hang of the grappling system, although higher difficulty settings tend to rely on reversals to an irritating degree. Last year’s “Predator technology” is still present, allowing signature moves to easily be chained into finishers.
|New OMG! moments look cool, have lame name.|
Commentary in WWE ‘13 is also more of the same. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler call the action, and it’s about as cut-and-paste as you’d expect. The Attitude Era mode mercifully includes commentary from Jim Ross, sometimes taken right from the original broadcasts. A nice touch is the addition of guest commentators in this mode, and it seems as though guys like Stone Cold even recorded new lines for their commentary. It’s still jarring to hear the “f” censored whenever someone says WWF, though.
One very welcome change to the audio is audience levels. Last year, crowds were nearly always dead silent, and it made the matches feel flat and unexciting. In WWE ’13, crowd noise has been amped way up, sometimes to the point of drowning out the commentary. It’s all adjustable with sliders, so if it bothers you, you can always turn crowd noise down, or commentary off, or whatever. Go crazy.
Newer additions to the WWE Universe, such as fan favorites like Ryback and Damien Sandow, are promised as DLC, making this year’s roster incredibly up to date. From all accounts, the online server woes that plagued last year’s game have been alleviated, so player-created wrestlers are also easily downloaded as well. So if you’re really into a wrestler who was left off the rosters, like, say, I dunno, RAZOR RAMON, someone out there is sure to have created a near-perfect likeness of The Bad Guy.
Which reminds me: PUT RAZOR RAMON IN THE GAME, THQ.
Other than that one gripe, WWE ’13 is a big step forward for the series. The inclusion of the Attitude Era mode is sure to pull in some fans who may have skipped the past few games, and the game is strong enough to possibly get a lot them to stick around. Aside from a few odd glitches, such as the wrong loading screen popping up, or arenas suddenly changing in cutscenes, WWE ’13 is, finally, a truly solid game. If you didn’t pick up last year’s game, or if you were a huge fan of the Attitude Era, WWE ’13 has a lot to offer. How THQ and Yuke’s follow this up, though, is going to be really interesting.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
Can you smell what Christopher Linendoll is cookin? He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.