WWE ’13 Review

Platform: PS3/360
Originally Reviewed: 2012

Here’s a decision that plenty of wrestling fans would have wanted, but I’m sure few expected. In WWE ’13, THQ have decided that, yes, modern wrestling is not that good and the real golden era in ‘sports entertainment’ was happening at the turn of the century. The result is a wrestling title that includes easily the best story mode, in terms of writing at least, ever seen. The problem with this? Well, when you base your story mode on the finest stories that professional wrestling has ever witnessed, how are you ever going to top that in future?

WWE 13’s focus on the Attitude Era is probably going to sell the title to older fans on its own, but it’s much more than a lazy implementation of a ‘retro’ roster of superstars. That’s not to say that the roster isn’t fantastic, because it truly is. Half of the roster will be instantly recognisable to any gamers brought up on the PS1/2 and N64 grapplers of the early noughties. There will be plenty of satisfaction and reminiscing when checking through a list that includes such classic stars as The New Age Outlaws, The APA, The Godfather (complete with his ho train), and X-Pac. These sit alongside Attitude Era character models for Kane, Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, HHH, Mankind and many more, oh my!

As previously mentioned before that digression into roster-worship, the Attitude Era story mode ensures that WWE ’13’s appeal is much more than just a bunch of dudes who said “suck it,” “whoop ass” and “jabroni” a lot when we were kids. The mode is fantastic and is easily the best thing about the game. Following on from the style of the ‘Legends of Wrestlemania’ title a few years back, Attitude Era mode allows players to recreate and relive dozens and dozens of incredible matches that shocked, entertained and changed wrestling forever back when they were lighting up our TV screens for real.

Matches come accompanied by objectives that ensure that the gameplay mirrors the real events. This very rarely misses the mark and can bring a nostalgic smile to most fans’ faces. Objectives like ‘hit Mankind in the face 13 times with a chair’ as The Rock at Royal Rumble ’99 or ‘throw Mankind off the top of the cell through the announce table’ as Undertaker at King of the Ring ’98 are two from an absolutely huge list of industry-defining moments. They make every match feel different and exciting and you’ll find it hard to think of many moments that have been left out.

Some of the matches are preceded by superb video montages that feature highlights and build-up, and really add to the nostalgic feeling that rasslin’ fans are likely to be feeling throughout the Attitude Era mode. The whole package is full of love and respect for the subject matter and has clearly involved a lot of effort in fleshing out the best bits to both watch and relive for yourself. The only real problem is that some of the greatest moments can lack a little bit of punch. The aforementioned cell-throwing-off felt disappointingly sombre due to the lack of oomph any time anyone goes through a table. And all wrestling’s best moments involve tables. But, that aside, it’s a triumph.

WWE 13 clearly nails the nostalgia factor in presentation and story, but does it feel like those classic grapplers we grew up playing during the Attitude Era itself? I think we can suitably give Steve Austin a hell yeah on that front. The game is very solid to play with the refinement of the button controls from last year producing the most natural and robust WWE game of this generation. There are issues with clipping, and some of the more spectacular moves can be a little bit fiddly to pull off, but that’s probably because you’re that much more desperate to do the Rock Bottom through the cell roof. As far as nailing the basics and keeping the gameplay tight and simple – WWE 13 does a solid job.

There are plenty of other decent features in WWE 13 besides the fantastic story mode. Universe mode returns and is still very cool, this year featuring Attitude Era-style feuds that are actually written by the father of hardcore: Paul Heyman.

Create a Wrestler, too, is really ridiculously in-depth; yet again ramping up the wealth of customisation levels to overwhelming new heights. If you want to put the effort in, there can be very little to gripe about when it comes to this year’s CAW tool – it’s just massive.

There are, however, other things you can complain about. It seems that WWE games are forever destined to have audio issues. Whether it’s the crowd being too loud, the commentators still cutting themselves off, or certain cutscenes losing voice acting altogether – the game has plenty of problems in this area. There are also some bizarre commentary choices during the Attitude Era mode where the commentators will sporadically change from saying “WWE” to “WW” with the “E” taken out – sometimes during the same match. It really doesn’t make any sense as to why it wasn’t all recorded as “WWE” (even though not historically correct) and can totally throw you out of any immersion. And where’s Howard Finkle as the announcer?

The game may play rather well, but it certainly doesn’t look so hot any more. The hair physics are still pathetically bad, some of the arenas look dull and lifeless, and even some of the character models are really poorly designed. The ring ropes do not move naturally at times and the dynamic camera can sometimes be more chaotic than Steve Austin driving… well, anything. The lack of visual flair does not break the game by any means; it’s just a shame that seeing all those old favourites finally come to life in HD isn’t as spectacular as it could be.

Wrestling isn’t great any more, but WWE 13 is a great wrestling game – mostly because it recognises the former. It’s a wonderful celebration of an era of wrestling that captivated adolescents like myself, and I defy anyone who plays the game to not immediately reach for that dusty VHS of Wrestlemania XV as soon as they turn the game off. It may have audio and graphical issues thanks to an ageing engine, but it is one of the most solid wrestling titles in many a year and features a magnificent story mode that will never be beaten in terms of writing. Unless WWE ’14 decides to expand on the Attitude Era further, or even throws in some classic WCW Monday Nitro moments. Then we all truly will have a nice day.

Alex Aldridge

GRAPHICS

Really starting to age now. The majority of the moves and characters are animated well enough, but there are some really poor character models in there and some distinctly flat looking arenas and the usually crappy hair/crowd animations.

6/10

GAMEPLAY

One of the best wrestling games of this generation, if not the best. Tight, robust and simple – the controls hark back to the No Mercy days. The gameplay compliments the fantastic story mode objectives that are almost always great fun to pull off.

8/10

STORY

I grew up watching all of it, but I still loved reliving it and acting it out for myself. Attitude Era mode has the best wrestling plotlines of all time gracing it so it’s probably a bit of a cheat, but that doesn’t take away from the brilliant implementation of the match objectives and montage videos. Just brilliant fun.

10/10

REPLAYABILITY

The Attitude Era mode is obviously best the first time round, but the Universe Mode, itself with added Attitude, ensures that the game has almost endless replayability. You’ll probably get bored at some point, but there are so many match types and a ridiculously in-depth creation tool that you’ve always got something to do.

8/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

Anyone who loved wrestling at the turn of the century should buy this, it’s impossible to be disappointed. The overall package is incredibly generous and very much worth the money for fans of wrestling’s golden era and, indeed, great wrestling games in general.

£40

OVERALL

WWE 13 wanted to celebrate the Attitude Era and it does so in real style. With the best story mode ever seen in wrestling games, a solid and enjoyable game engine and a very generous package with the CAW and Universe Modes both adding to the quality – this is a real triumph. There are audio and visual issues and some cheeky DLC ripping off, but this is still easily the best wrestler of this generation. And that’s the bottom line.

8.5/10

GREAT

 

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