Fun fact: I like wrestling. Been a fan since the mid to late 80s, grew up watching Bret Hart, Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and so forth punching each other in the rough vicinity of the head. I enjoyed the showmanship, the action and the fun of watching a clown wrestle a voodoo priest. When I was a lad wrestling games were a big pile of turd that failed entirely to reflect what the show was about.. I used to play games like Super Wrestlemania (which I have just realised is in my SNES right now) WWF Raw and other such messy wrestling games. Kids today love to complain about how crappy modern wrestling games are but believe me, they’re light years ahead of what we had back then. THQ (God rest their soul… maybe) have been making WWE’s wrestling games for about 12 years now. What they brought to the table was more of the storylines and presentation of the TV shows themselves. So after all this time making these games how have they progressed with their latest WWE game? Click the link to read my review!
The first real post I made on this here blog thing was a video looking back at WWF Attitude for the PS1. I realised halfway through editing that video that I had the Dreamcast version too so sorry it looked so ropey. Picking that game to show first wasn’t by chance. When I chose WWF Attitude I was getting all hyped up for WWE 13 with it’s promise of presenting the Attitude Era with a level of flashiness that hadn’t been done in gaming before. But is the Attitude Era mode all WWE 13 has to offer? Yeah pretty much. Well that’s that review over. Like, comment and subscribe!!!
OK, I’ll give details. So in Attitude Era mode you progress through a select series of storylines from the late 90s of the WWF. This was a time when Vince was in the midst of a ratings war with Ted Turner’s WCW, a fact reflected by a TV ratings tracker that appears in the loading screens of each match. You start off working through the formation of Degeneration X, or at least a version that never includes Chyna or Ravishing Rick Rude. After that you play through chapters following Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mankind, Undertaker & Kane, The Rock and finally the road to Wrestlemania 15. During the matches you have primary goals to complete which usually boil down to just winning the match but alongside them are historic moments. These moments involve performing certain actions mid-match that happened in the real matches. For instance, you may be told to hit Mankind with a steel chair 10 times or put your opponent through the announcers table. Mostly their pretty simple and can, on the most part, be achieved first time through.
Completing these historical goals is how you unlock the bulk of the games extra content which is mostly additional wrestlers, costumes and arenas. The goals are a nice touch but there’s a few matches where the potential has been wasted. For example when you play the Stone Cold Vs Dude Love match from Over The Edge 98, a match where Vince kept changing the rules on the fly and Austin and Dude Love fought all over the arena, is boiled down to a ref bump and you being told to pin your opponent as quick as you can. A total waste of a match that was one of the best examples of the chaos of the Attitude Era. Other times the goals add a lot to the match such as in the Stone Cold Vs Vince McMahon cage match which starts outside the ring and asks your to pull Vince off the cage and through the announcers table. After completing Attitude Era Mode you’ll get the Off Script chapter which is a series of matches from the tail end of the Attitude Era and an excuse to unlock a few extra random wrestlers. Two of which are Lita… and John Cena circa 2004 for some reason. I have one real gripe with the Off Script chapter and that is how Eddie Guerrero is unlocked. Of all the matches he had you unlock Eddie Guerrero by squashing him in 2 minutes with Stone Cold Steve Austin. How is that the right way to unlock Eddie. Why not have you play, lets say, his WWE championship match against Brock Lesnar from No Way Out 2004? A little later but Lesnar is in the game and it would be a great match to showcase Eddie with.
Outside Attitude Era mode you’ve got the usual selection of match types, creation features and online modes. Not much has changed in these although online does work a little better now. By which I mean I was able to get into more than one mostly lag free match. The interface for dealing with your created content isn’t too well thought out, there’s a lot of menu navigation to view your content or to rate content you’ve previously downloaded for instance, but generally it’s pretty straight forward to get into a game or find a created item. Not much has changed with the creation tools this year. There’s a custom belt feature hidden away, for some reason not near the other creation options, but it boils down to choosing a preset design and picking the colours. Create A Wrestler mode is the real meat of the creation suite and it’s pretty much the same as in last years game. It allows for some pretty impressive creations to be made but is in need of an overhaul.
Gameplay hasn’t changed much. The Predator animation tech THQ love to go on about hasn’t really earned the 2.0 tag they’ve attached to it. In places it’s a little smoother with it’s transitions but it is lacking the procedural blending animation polish that they seem to think it has. They tell you it’ll give you animation fluidity like you’d see in Uncharted or GTA4 but really you’re getting the Poundland version. For those of you outside the UK Poundland is a shop that manages to function by selling everything for a single pound and as such is full of shoddy knock offs of Lego toys and food. I suggest going to Youtube to look for some of Ashens Poundland reviews for examples. They’ve added a new move to place you’re opponent on the middle rope and you can now catch an opponent in mid air with certain finishers but that’s about it. Submissions take a little more button mashing too which I suppose is a decent improvement. Also added is OMG moments which are special spots you can perform at the expense of a finishing move. These are spots such as ramming an opponent through a ringside barricade, smashing them through the announcers table with a finishing move (something you could just do manually before) and, in certain weight based situations, the ability to make the ring implode with a top rope Superplex. They’re a nice addition but there’s not that many of them which leads them to being just a small bonus event.
Presentation wise the game isn’t much prettier than last years entry but I’ll allow them some leeway as they really have provided a wide selection of Wrestlers and arenas this time around. Sound is all over the place quality wise. Developer Yukes has been given audio files of real crowds from WWE events, which would be great if they knew how to mix them together effectively. The volume of the crowd raises very quickly and can easily stay at a deafening level for the whole duration of a match. Plus the breaks between one cheering sample ending and another beginning are quite noticeable. During entrances the wrestler’s themes are, for some reason, really very quiet even when you have the music turned to the highest setting. So quiet that some, such as Cody Rhodes, have their themes drowned out by the crowds cheers. This doesn’t effect any custom themes you’ve used on created wrestlers though.
WWE 13 hinges entirely on it’s Attitude Era mode and it’s gameplay. Attitude Era is the best story mode feature they’ve had in these games for years but it’s over fairly quickly. Universe Mode is back but for some reason it’s become even more picky about actually presenting a storyline to you than ever before. I’ve heard there’s branching storylines but I’ve still not seen a single one after playing through a full year. If you enjoyed the gameplay in the last game then you’ll be right at home here and likely enjoy the package as a whole. It is certainly a lot more enjoyable than WWE 12 by proxy of it’s story mode not being a pile of ass. This is by no means a polished game, as the animation bug in the Scramble Match video I’ve posted here will attest, but it has the ability to represent the WWE TV product fairly well. That alone puts it above a lot of wrestling games out there. It’s not as good as say Smackdown Here Comes The Pain, No Mercy or the majority of Fire Pro games but it is a step up for at least the last 4-5 in the THQ range. It’s definitely a lot better than Super Wrestlemania.