This review is going to be hard for me. It’s no secret that I’m a huge wrestling fan but I’m an even bigger gaming nerd and above all else Wrestling games are my favourite types of games. Having said that I find it hard to review wrestling games in an unbiased way…
So for this review is going to start by saying this. If you don’t like wrestling, you are not going to like WWE’13. It is easily the closest gaming has ever gotten to representing wrestling so unlike WWE AllStars it’s for the wrestling hardcore only. So my rating at the end will not be a rating based on gaming as a whole but it will be a rating based on this game when compared to other wrestling games, specifically WWE’12 from last year.
So lets get to the review…
Attitude Era Mode
I’m going to start with Attitude Era Mode. This is easily the most hyped addition to this years game. The premise is simple, rather then playing a story written for the game like last year, you get to play through the entire Attitude Era which is one of wrestlings most loved time periods. It spans from the very early 90′s to the start of the new millennium. This is massive fan service and it has been clearly created with love by people who grew up during that time period. Each match is predicated by a mixture of classic style WWE video packages that explain the story and hype up the match and some in game cutscenes that take place just before or after a match. The matches themselves are split into to parts. You’ll have criteria that you have to complete in order to progress the game that will be fairly simple, things like “win the match” or “get you opponents damage to critical”. Once you have done these things you will usually trigger a cutscene that will take you to the next part of the story. The other part of Attitude is the Historical Accuracy Objectives. These are things you can do if you like that actually happened in the match in real life. Such as performing your finisher a certain amount of times or putting your opponent through a table or announcers table. Doing these extra objectives is how you unlock new wrestlers, outfits and arenas (that is if you didn’t buy the accelerator that unlocks 99% of content in the game). Now whilst I enjoyed playing through the Attitude Era mode for the story aspect of it, I found it to be a very robotic and jarring experience. Because I wanted to unlock everything I was not playing matches fluidly as I normally do. I was playing to just get the extra objectives. This to me felt like a chore and about half way through this mode I found myself playing it begrudgingly. In fact I put the difficulty down to easy just so I could get through it quickly and get all the content so I wouldn’t have to do it again.
Personally I think Attitude Era mode is the weakest aspect of the entire game.
This is the other big mode in WWE’13 and by far the superior. For the uninitiated, Universe mode basically gives you control of the entire wrestling world. At the most basic level you can just play through the normal WWE yearly schedule including all the WWE shows and PPVs. You can choose to play as one superstar or diva or play every match and decide the fate of every wrestler on the roster. If like me though you want to really get involved with the wrestling world you can do almost anything you want. For instance I kept RAW, Smackdown and Superstars but I also added RAW IS WAR! which is full of the Attitude Era roster and also added my own brand new wrestling company made entirely of created wrestlers I have put together and downloaded from the community which even had its very own championship belts and PPVs too! I’ve also looked into making WCW and NXT.
This mode is never ending as when you complete a full year, you just carry on with the next one. The AI creates feuds which play out as cutscenes, tag teams form and split up and wrestlers get injured. The only draw back here is that it is quite glitchy due to the random aspect of the mode and weird stuff can get thrown up occasionally like The Rock vs Justin Gabriel in the main event of Superstars – but you can change matches on the fly to deal with these problems and THQ has already released a patch with more to follow I’m sure.
For Wrestling geeks like me though you can’t beat Universe mode, Warning though it is life ruiningly addictive.
Gameplay and other differences
The actual in ring action has taken a subtle but excellent step forward this year. The grappling has been slowed down and feels much heavier this year which is a good thing as moves feel more impactful and wrestlers don’t feel like they are on a skating rink anymore. The developer has also added around 200 or so new moves this year which all look awesome, so awesome in fact that they make the older moves – especially the ones that have been in for the last few years look quite poor. It has really highlighted that the move set needs a complete overhaul. Most of the wrestlers feel very unique and just like their real life counterparts. The likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are awesome and so much fun to play as. Unfortunately this doesn’t translate all the way down the roster as jobbers such Santino and Heath Slater feel a bit generic and rushed.
The presentation this year has lost some of the stuff the was new in WWE’12 like the pyrotechnic displays at the start of events and some of the info graphics too. I think this is due to the poor way they loaded last year – with constant lag. It’s a shame they didn’t fix the problems rather then just abandoning them but this year does run much smoother so I can see why they did this. More has been added in other areas though. Superstar entrances have received a lot of work this year especially for guys lower down the card. Guys like The Miz and Cody Rhodes now have proper championship entrances and some wrestlers even where there coats and props to the ring now too. The other massive improvement to presentation this year is the arena sound. Some real love and care has gone into making the crowd sound so authentic this year. This has come from the developer taking sound bites and recordings of live WWE crowds from the vaults of WWE and added them into the game. It really pays off especially in big matches where it does a brilliant job of sucking you into the action and drama.
So WWE’13, despite its many little glitches and quirks that really can jar the experience, overall it’s easy to say that it is far superior to WWE’12 and I would controversially say that it is the best Wrestling game of all time. Yes I do believe this topples the mighty No Mercy for N64. It seems like the developer has listened to our complaints from last year – of which there were many – and addressed the worst to create the heavyweight champion of wrestling games. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s a clear indication of where this series is going and what we can hope to expect next year if they make the same jump in quality for WWE’14