I’ve never really been a big fan of wrestling, but it’s hard not to be caught up in the spectacle that is WWE ‘13. Hyped by THQ as the most complete sweaty man drama package there is, this title isn’t so much a revolution for the franchise but a streamlined grappling experience for diehard and casual fans alike. For anyone who’s been following the progression of the series, you’ll know that the franchise received its biggest changes last year with WWE ‘12 when it was given a complete overhaul to match the standards of the changing times.
This year’s edition follows in strong suite with thoughtful revisions and some much needed tweaks. Many of the audio and content issues have been addressed but the title doesn’t exactly shake up the formula. What you loved about the previous games is probably still here, intact as ever. But, by the same reasoning, all the elements you hated are likely here as well. As with most sports titles, there’s no singular way to play. You’re basically free to dabble with the never ending Universe Mode, online matches – both ranked and unranked, standard local co-op and the Attitude Era campaign.
Attitude Era is probably what most people will gravitate towards and it’s by far the best and most fully realised piece of content the game has to offer. For the uninitiated, Attitude lets you relive some of wrestling’s highlights through the eyes of its biggest stars. It’s a fairly linear experience but it comes absolutely packed with direct live-action footage and a certain degree of historical accuracy. You’re also awarded points and given unlockable content for recreating the exact circumstances of victory. It’s a very theatrical experience overall and serves as a great refresher course for old fans and a quick history lesson for new ones.
For all of Attitude’s sparkle, it is, unfortunately, a little rough around the edges. The multi-camera style of live-action wrestling is heavily used and the experience is worse off it. Instead of appearing frantic and exciting, all the varied camera angles manage to do is frustrate. Audio samples ripped right from the real life event are also used but are more miss than hit. There’s a noticeable difference between the samples and the game-made audio files, so when they’re played end on end it just rips you right out of the experience and brings down the feel of an entire match.
Commentating is a little better than it was in previous years but still needs some work. Often a match will be deathly quiet then suddenly spring to life when the crowd/commentators decide to open their mouths. This is very much based on the action going on within the ring but it feels very robotic to go from silent to riot in a snap. The energy level of the commentary also feels a bit wooden at times.
Leaving that aside, gameplay in WWE ‘13 is quite addictive and fun. The controls are intuitive and surprisingly deep, plus the back and forth nature of a wrestling match is captured perfectly. Players can’t just step into a ring and bust out a signature finishing move. You need to slowly work you opponent, which provide a great sense of escalation and a bit of a cinematic feel.
One of the only other issues I can find with the game is the number of graphical glitches. In one table match, for example, the table seemed to take on a life of its own and actually moved about the arena. In another, poor collision detection had me DDTing an invisible man into the ground before he teleported in place. In most instances these issues are more comedic than anything else but they certainly distract from your ultimate wrestling fantasy.
Once you’ve relived the glory days of Attitude mode, the next best bit of content to sink your teeth into is actually the customisation options. Literally everything is up for review, from creating new superstars with a staggering level of tweaking to adjusting rosters, tag teams and programming in Universe mode.
Since I’m a slender chap who can’t grow a beard or chest hair, the first thing I wanted to create a hairy bearmode goliath as my custom character. Thankfully the game allows for this, and any other whacky variation. Once you’ve created your conduit you’re pretty much free to use him/her in any way you like. Matches and the like can also be uploaded and shared across the web – giving players the ability to extend the life game’s life span and keep it fresh.
Graphics are close to spot on throughout the entire game. There are a few niggling issues, as mentioned before, but each wrestler is rendered and animated with a fantastic degree of accuracy – the swagger of Stone Cold or the imposing stride of the Undertaker is perfectly captured.
- Reviewed On
- Xbox 360