With more plot twists than a diving hurricanrana and more crazy antics than you can shake a folded up metal chair at, WWE bursts onto the gaming scene again with it’s new title WWE ‘13. Now, where to start with this hulking behemoth of a brand?
This is where WWE ‘13 really shines, taking you through arguably the best period of ‘sports entertainment’ in it’s Attitude Mode. Players will experience the feuds of the late 90’s starring Stone Cold, The Rock, Shawn Michaels and more. Going through the iconic era, match by match, war by war, is reminiscent of all the times in wrestling games of old when one attempted to replicate such events, inevitably leaving an underwhelming after taste. Not so here though! The attitude mode is all about reliving those epic moments and the matches give you chance to do such that. Merely completing the match in a mandatory fashion, such as winning by pinfall straight after a finisher will progress you nicely through the campaign, but where’s the fun in that? WWE ‘13 tasks you with fulfilling specific, secondary objectives throughout each match that not only more accurately represent the event, but also net you some great unlockables once completed. With easily 11 hours of playtime in this mode alone, fans of the old(ish) school of wrestling are extremely well catered for.
Speaking of playtime, WWE Universe returns, as if it wouldn’t! Giving players almost unprecedented levels of customisation with adding cards, events and championships. Players can add storylines; just generally make it their own. It can be pretty daunting at first, but sticking with it will provide to be endlessly entertaining; the amount of time fans can expect to be here is staggering! Ultimately similar to the last WWE game, save for a few notable exceptions such as being able to reset the mode when things are getting a little too convoluted!
No matter what game type you know and love, the WWE games never disappoint; this one is no exception. Whether you get your kicks from chucking people over the top rope or settling down for a good ol’ fashioned slobberknocker, WWE ‘13 has got you covered! Hit detection has thankfully been improved in this year’s iteration, attempting top turnbuckle leaps are now feasible; swinging wildly facing the opposite direction is mostly a thing of the past! Yes there are still some iffy moments but it’s come a long way. Controls are not dissimilar from last year’s entry and those fluent will have no trouble acclimatizing. Unfortunately, for some mysterious unbeknownst reason, a tutorial is not present; I’m not sure why. Players making their first foray are going to struggle, especially considering a likely first venture will be the Attitude mode. Whilst it’s great fun completing little side objectives, having to constantly paw your way through the in-game menu whilst trying to figure out how to get a chair from under the ring is not fun. Some on-screen hints would have greatly benefited the early parts of this mode.
Action is generally fluid, grappling looks great and punches feel weighty. Camera angles can sometimes be annoyingly erratic and disorientating. Trying to replicate real-life camera shots at opportune moments during the fight can result in the camera wafting back and forth, this can be turned off it it gets a little much though! Irish whips can get a bit sketchy with the AI consistently reversing them. There are sliders to determine the computers behavioural patterns, influencing how often it will reverse and counter your efforts and such, yet I personally didn’t notice too much of a difference after altering them. Unfortunately, another case of a lack of tutorials I feel.
Character weights also matter, smaller wrestlers can no longer throw their larger counterparts about like a scrunched up leotard; the bearings and postures of the larger fellows are likewise more believable. New are the aptly, albeit terribly named ‘OMG Moves’, these use a stored finisher in special circumstances for extravagant results, such as destroying the ring with a suplex from the top turnbuckle, or putting someone through the announcers table. Alongside these are the satisfying comeback moves, essentially a QTE that triggers when you’ve taken a pounding to critical levels, these can, hopefully, swing the fight back in your favour.
As you might expect, customisation runs rampant throughout WWE ‘13, it’s difficult to actually play with stock characters and rings. Given all the options to change things up, it’s surprising how little time I ended up playing the game, creating freaks of nature is severely addictive! Unfortunately, abusing the create a character system is a little too tempting, giving your wrestler almost max stats seems to have neither penalties nor repercussions; running into these online can be infuriating.
The online has been a bit of a mixed bag for me, against like-minded players who genuinely want to play fair, it can be great fun. With reversals all over the place; stored finishers becoming nasty surprises, it truly can become a spectacle. These matches are few and far between however, with the majority of players sprinting across the ring flinging themselves at you, knowing that the counter will fail due to the connection issues. Matches have been inconsistent with lag rearing it’s unwelcome head but it did sort itself out after a while. It is also worth pointing out that the ‘rank reset’ glitch has reportedly been fixed, I was jammy enough not to fall victim to this, however many unfortunately have.
After an enormous patch in excess of 600Mb and a way larger install, you would expect loading times to be at a minimum, not quite. Constantly saving and loading between menus can become a drag; unskippable videos such as when loading the Attitude mode can also be incredibly frustrating. The graphics are mostly superb, aside from a couple of dodgy faces and a little clipping, it looks great. Crowds seem to have been spruced up, getting on their feet when the momentum of the match peaks is a nice touch.
The commentators are always the bane of sports titles, usually becoming repetitive after just a few rounds. WWE ‘13 is sporadic in it’s sparkles, occasionally the commentators call outs are spot on; considering some of the audio for the Attitude mode was ripped straight from the events themselves, it should be! Crowd samples were also used, yet with the editing process filtering out the F in WWF, it can come across a little tacky in parts! The main menu music consists of excerpts from the wrestlers, mostly, catchy ring entrance tracks. Whether hit or miss, they can always raise a smile trying to remember which superstar they represent; followed by kicking yourself when you realise that it used to be your favourite years ago!
Some insignificant, non game-breaking glitches still roam freely, yet clipping isn’t anywhere near as much of an issue as it once was in previous titles, so that’s that headache gone at least! One thing I will draw attention to, is that the save file gets pretty large; I’m not talking PS3 Skyrim large either, where that maxed out for me at about 17Mb per save file, WWE ‘13 will sap around 3Gb! For some reason it counts the install as part of your save game; that isn’t really convenient! For PS Plus users, don’t try and upload your saved data, it isn’t happening! It’s also copyright protected too, which would lead to a nightmare for some of you especially creative people out there if something were to go tragically wrong with your console. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen though!
Should You Buy?
If you’re any kind of a fan of wrestling, be it the focused upon Attitude Era, or just getting into it now, then this title is most definitely worth a purchase. Compiling the largest roster to date, although with the two eras some are more or less re-skins, was no easy feat. Attention to each wrestlers mannerisms and animations are unparalleled; making the overall package a true homage. With a hefty amount not unlocked from the get go, there’s a lot of incentive to go and unlock the extras; mastering the Attitude bouts will be your best bet for this. Replayability is going to be through the roof for fans, especially with the most comprehensive Universe Mode to date.
If you’re not a fan of the series, nothing much is going to change your mind about this one I wouldn’t imagine, plus if you’re new, you’ll likely be in for a steep learning curve what with the lack of tutorials abound. If you are interested however, this would be a great place to start, learning retrospectively how the storylines of the Attitude Era in the late 90’s transformed the company into the empire it is today is worth it alone for the sense of intrigue involved.
Reviewed on the PS3, also available on Xbox 360 and Wii.