Wrestling is a multi-billion dollar industry, with millions of viewers enjoying the best of sports entertainment. It is therefore no surprise that wrestling is a crowd favourite when it comes to gaming. It is so popular in fact that we are treated to an annual release schedule with small incremental improvements rather than real innovation in the genre – this is where WWE comes in. The latest addition to the franchise, WWE 13, is not a very big change from previous years in the way it plays, or even looks, but what is different is the content.
Let’s look at what is the same before we jump into what’s new. WWE 13 still features a very big selection of current wrestling superstars, from the smaller wrestlers like ‘The Miz’ all the way up to larger-than-life ‘Big Show.’ They all look very much like their real life counterparts, except for one small detail: everyone in the game is perfect. They all have well defined muscles and six-packs, while on TV they all clearly do not. The females wrestlers, also known as Divas, are also represented with a few of the real-world wrestling ladies included in the game.
The fighting still consists of three basic attacks. The first one is simple striking which will punch and kick your opponent and you can string a few short combos together. Your opponent will soon figure out how to reverse your attack (more on that later) and you will require some variety in your attack. Next up is the button used for whipping, which involves throwing your opponent out of the ring or into the corner of the ropes. This can also be the start of a combo, where you can either pull them back and attack them, or where you can attack them in the corner.
Finally you have grappling moves which can be quite complicated at first, but soon and with a bit of practise, become the most spectacular moves in the game.
The control scheme feels intuitive if you have played any of the other WWE games, but the matter of auto-locking onto the wrong target is gone. No longer do you attempt to hit the wrestler behind you when the one in front of you is climbing the ropes to jump on you. It also allows you to target specific areas of the opponent wrestlers – you can focus on a bad leg and bring a fast runner down to a more manageable speed, for example.
You will also be allowed to create a wrestler of your own in WWE 13 and decide which franchise s/he will be competing in. The amount of options here will allow you to create truly classic and zany wrestler with masks and make-up, as well as more conservative wrestlers with only the required padding to prevent any injuries.
To finish up your perfect look-a-like you can create his or her finishing and signature moves, and even edit together an entrance routine to use before each match. The library of moves and finishers is quite astounding and I spent hours trying to create the perfect wrestler with the perfect entrance.
There is a career mode in WWE 13, simply known as the WWE Universe. Even though it may seem very similar to the previous edition of the universe, there are now more dynamic changes to the rosters and the fights. You can also develop rivalries with other athletes and these stories are woven into the universe. The universe sees you compete week by week for either title matches or regular weekly matches. In the latest version, however, things have been cranked up to 11! More dynamic events will occur, and rivals will take you out before matches start, or beat you up during a match.
Week after week you are seeded and eventually when you become the number one contender you are allowed to challenge for the title at a pay-per-view event, which are flashy spectacles where most wrestlers are beaten to a pulp. Luckily for us WWE 13 still allow reversals to prevent such beatings being too brutal. This year the reversal system allows for slightly more time for each reversal, and also gives you a short indicator that lets you know if you’ve hit the button too soon or too late – this comes in handy when you’re still out learning the moves.
The single biggest change in this year’s release is the WWE Attitude Era, which is probably the most popular era of all of sports entertainment. Here you will be able to replicate some of the industry’s most iconic matches as they try to prevent a competitive brand from stealing TV viewership. Names like The Heartbreak Kid, Stone Cold and Triple H all come to the fore.
Each character from the Attitude Era has his own little introduction video laying down the background for what you can expect from him. At first you can only access Shaun Michael’s profile in order to relive his iconic start of Degeneration X. Later you will unlock most of the legendary names from the era, including Mr McMahon himself.
WWE 13 also features some online matches and ranking systems where you can compete for titles, but the most fun is had in simple versus matches. You can decide to either take on another human player, either on the same console or online, and then specify the type of match and the rules involved.
The best of these has to the 4-player couch co-op ladder match. The only rule here is that you need to climb a ladder to the top and take the belt dangling from a rope. The problem is your mates are trying to stop you from accomplishing that task and get there themselves. Ladders are all free game, and you can fish for other weapons like tables, chairs and even sledgehammers to take out the other contenders.
There are a few technical issues in WWE 13, one of which is that the animations can sometimes appear a little stiff. When attacking an opponent and he’s already started doing something else, it often felt as though there was a pact between wrestlers not to interfere during his attack and you have to wait for him to finish. The visuals are also starting to look a little dated. It’s still pretty good, but games like Fight Night Round 3 were more impressive five years ago. The audio, however, is spot on: The crowds go nuts as you perform your signature moves while the floors creak as you throw down the bodies.
With such a wide variety of game-types and a control scheme that can be adjusted to your needs, with a roster as complete as you can expect it, as well as Attitude Era wrestlers back in the game for the first time in ages, you will not be disappointed with WWE 13. Even my non-wrestling watching wife instantly knew who each athlete was and what I had to do to beat them. This game is a worthy evolution of WWE 12.
- The Good: As if you are watching television, only more realistic; Attitude Era!
- The Bad: Stiff animations; Can you ever have enough clothing types for wrestlers?
- The Ugly: Men! Men in tights!