WWE’13 Review

The Attitude Era, viewed by many as one of the most memorable and loved era’s in professional wrestling history. It is an era that made household names of athletes such Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, HHH and Mick Foley to name but a few. However more importantly it helped the then WWF reclaim its number one spot back from its rivals WCW, a spot which the company from that point on never lost again. So fast forward nearly two decades and it seems that THQ have decided to celebrate this beloved era by allowing fans to relive and recreate some of its classic moments in the latest incarnation of their popular WWE video game franchise, WWE’13.

The Attitude Era parts of WWE’13 are replacing last and past year’s story modes in a bid to satisfy those fans who were left frustrated by previous attempts. The mode allows the player as previously said to experience classic moments from that era through not only the use of playing the key moments as certain characters, but also the use of specially created video packages that are designed to make even the most unfamiliar player feel like they know what the era is about.

The game play elements here are similar to those already touched upon in WWE’12’s story mode, as in the player has to complete certain challenges while re-living this historic moment in order to not only progress but to also unlock one of the titles hundreds of unlockable bonuses. However this time around the challenges seem to fit better in to the game, as the use of them alongside the events that took place in that era do help to better engage the player and despite being frustrating on occasions, you do feel a sense of reward and engagement once you have achieved them. Detractors may say that this option restricts the player to play the game the way the developer wants you to, offering little freedom. However it is worth noting that you are not restricted on how you achieve all of the goals here. Add in the fact that it is tied into an era that has already happened and it would seem pointless to allow the player to create an alternate universe by allowing them to change the outcome. Game play elements aside, the videos used in WWE’13 are fantastic and follow in the high quality WWE promo package tradition of telling a story and as such not only educate the player about the era but also help evoke a sense of purpose and emotion for the challenge that they have to complete.

This particular area it seems THQ have added to the title due to its successful use in WWE Allstars, for just like in that game, here it is integrated into the game play mode so well that you almost feel that you are a part of the WWE programming from that time. The fact that the mode is also split into chapters, only one of which is unlocked from the start, would lend itself to the aforementioned restrictiveness. However once in the match you can decide whether to win and complete all the objectives or just win without completing them. The latter will have the perfectionist in us all striving to do that but you can come back later to give it another go should you want to; just get the match over with and move on. The objectives are where the problem comes in though, as in the second match of one of such sections the objectives were to complete all the historical objectives. Sounds easy, right? It would have been, however the third objective was a hidden objective and with no clue as to what this might be the player could find themselves struggling for hours to complete this (that is unless they want to use GameFAQs). This mode also presented another issue, in that if the mode is supposed to be a recreation of the aforementioned era, then why does a current day WWE ring announcer (as opposed to the one from the time) do the ring announcements? Admittedly this is just a minor fault but certainly one that the more ardent WWE fans will pick on.

There are those who will be unhappy with the goal based progression that is used in the single player story mode and so THQ have included once again the WWE Universe mode. Now in its third incarnation it offers the player the chance to literally create their own WWE Universe and this time the level of customisation has been increased dramatically. Players are now able to take part in and view more than 200 new storylines and cinematics and make their way to the top with all new branching storylines. You can now customise your own WWE TV shows or Pay Per Views in more ways than before with improved match customisation and also statistic tracking. As if that was not enough to whet the player’s appetite the whole mode has been produced in collaboration with wrestling creative supremo, Paul Heyman. Sound good? Well, this mode once again does not let you down. The ability to design and craft your own WWE Universe is something that any fan who has ever watched a piece of WWE programming will jump for and having the chance to not only guide your favourite WWE superstar to victory but also your own created superstar, is bound to keep fans and newcomers happy for hours.

Speaking of the created characters, this year THQ have expanded the abilities here and made them even more of an intense experience for the player, which whilst a welcome decision for the hardcore fan, is not going to be so welcome for those who just wish to create something that quickly represents their friend so that they can battle as a tag team. The other odd choice, one that is likely to upset both casual and hardcore WWE gamers, is the inclusion in the DLC (Downloadable Content) of new moves to add to your created characters. Whilst this is a good way of expanding the DLC for those who subscribe to the service for the game, it is certainly a somewhat cheeky way of doing so when it is considered that all the DLC will likely do is unlock them from the disc.

In regards to the DLC, it appears that THQ have kept with a similar format to last time and this year have divided them into packs, releasing them several months apart so as to give the fans enough time to play with their newly integrated content. The moves in pack three aside, the other content fans will receive contains a mixture of bonus characters (Chainsaw Charlie and AJ Lee to name a couple), bonus outfits and 10 new championships to compete for from various organisations. Whilst these offerings are by no means meagre, the packs themselves only number three and if THQ are expected to have fans purchase all of the packs in one subscription then they should look to follow the model adopted by their other titles, such as Saints Row The Third, which promised over 52 weeks of bonus content and content that lasts until early 2013. This aside, the DLC does at least fit into the title and (unlike some games) does not feel like an afterthought.

The above points and modes aside, the other aspects that THQ are said to have improved on is that of the predator technology and the graphics, both of which are said to give the game the most accurate representation of WWE programming to date. This is true up to a point, as the in match game play is certainly fluid and quick paced, thanks to the aforementioned predator technology 2.0. This can be to the game’s detriment as the player more often than not will find themselves with only a second to press the reversal button in order to reverse a move, a feat which can only be achieved through button bashing. The problem with this is that it can often lead to the annoyance of the computer being able to counter all of your moves and you being unable to counter theirs at all. As a result this can put an end to a player’s attempt to play with any form of strategy, largely due to them being frustrated. Whilst you could argue that this may reflect the art of wrestling, in that you only have a second to counter your opponent’s moves, in a video game players want to at least feel that they have a chance against their opponent, otherwise they will throw the controller at the screen. So in essence whilst the predator technology is good for those hardcore WWE gamers who want a more realistic experience, the casual gamer may find themselves having to play longer and harder to achieve the experience they crave for.

The other aforementioned element of this game that is said to have been improved is that of the graphics and the representation of the WWE world as a whole. Now whilst it could be said that other elements have been improved, such as the crowd (which now move better and seem less like cardboard), and the videos in between the segments, the overall character models appear to have taken a dramatic step backwards. It appears in this title that the in game character models have lost some of the muscle definition and also whilst it looks as if great pains have been taken to show certain aspects of the WWE Superstars, such as their respective in ring entrances, others such as their appearance have become less defined and they end up looking less like the characters they are meant to. Granted this is likely to be a small issue to some players, however when the other issues such as collision detection have also not been rectified, it does leave you wondering if the developers were focussing more on the game play aspects in this title, hoping that the player would be overwhelmed by the improvements and not look for any improvements elsewhere. Whilst it is true that the above issues do not as such affect the game play, it will surprise some fans when they get a close up of their beloved WWE Superstars and they notice it for the first time.

So with that all said, like with all good wrestling matches it is time for the finishing manoeuvre to be delivered on WWE’13. Whilst there is no question that this title will sell millions of copies and some vendors have already reported to have sold out at the pre-order stage, WWE’13 is a game that will once again polarise the fans, much like what WWE Superstar John Cena does every single night. Whilst the game play itself has improved vastly over previous titles and a big effort has certainly been made to recreate the key aspects needed to achieve this, it is the small things that have once again been neglected and as such stop this title from achieving the pinnacle of gaming it desires to be. That aside if you are a WWE fan you will find yourselves being able to forgive these minor faults and as such what you will be left with is certainly a WWE gaming experience that you will enjoy for many hours, or at least until WWE’14 is available.

WWE’13 is available to buy on PS3, XBOX360 and Nintendo Wii courtesy of THQ.

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