Ah, annual sports iterations. Many of us await them with open arms year after year, and the rest yawn in disapproval. After the massive overhaul with the Predator Technology engine in WWE '12, fans were asking, "What's next?"
WWE '13 (PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Release: October 30, 2012
Truth be told, I stopped watching wrestling full time in 2005 (which for me was roughly two days a week), but I never stopped being a casual fan. Throughout the years, I would watch the occasional Pay-Per-View, or catch the latest game iteration. So when I heard WWE '13 would focus heavily on the Attitude Era, I jumped on the opportunity to check it out.
If you watched wrestling in the '90s, Attitude Era Mode is a blast -- it's the main draw in WWE '13 in terms of solo campaign play. You'll relive notable moments of the careers of Stone Cold, DX, Mankind, and many more fan favorites. Throughout the chapters Rise of DX, Austin 3:16, the Brothers of Destruction, The Great One, Mankind, and WrestleMania XV, you'll reenact some of the greatest moments in wrestling history.
I do mean reenact, as you'll be required to administer certain events that actually happened. But this time instead of WWE '12's format of requiring you to tediously do everything necessary, most of the objectives are bonuses, and you need only complete the primary goal to continue on. Playing through the Attitude Era will also unlock new characters and extras, so you old-school gamers should be happy with all of the potential goals.
The mode isn't just thrown in half-cocked, either -- you'll get tons of factoids on loading screens, a neat intro video into the Attitude Era itself, and some pretty awesome "WCW Nitro vs. RAW" ratings that show big moments in WCW history as well as rival television ratings. It's all a great trip down memory lane. While some people may think that it's pandering, Yuke's did such a good job that it would be hard to truly brand it as such.
Actual wrasslin' gameplay is very similar to WWE '12, so if you played the last iteration, you should feel right at home. You can still strike, grapple, Irish whip, and dash as normal. Some enhancements have thankfully been made, most notably the counter system.
In previous years, getting the lighting-fast counter timing down was something many people never mastered. Now in WWE '13, there's a clear indicator of when to press the counter button -- and even a tiny prompt which states "too soon" or "too late" to actually teach you how to improve. It sounds small, but counters are such a big part of wrestling games, and it's nice to know that Yuke's not only scorns a button-mashing system, but encourages technical play.
You'll also notice that wrestlers have more stamina now, which should preclude super-quick matches like in '12. On the flip side, it is a bit jarring to have to do two, sometimes three specials just to get someone past the "one" count. If you're itching for quicker fights though, you can switch it to a quick mode (as well as a lengthier "epic" stamina setting) before a match.
There are a number of glitches that rear their ugly heads in spite of these advancements, unfortunately -- for the vast majority of my matches, I encountered at least one of them per session. They're not gigantic or game-breaking, but things like missing grapples or glitch-teleport rolling can be troublesome and really annoying.
While good ol' JR and Jerry "The King" Lawler call the matches in the Attitude Era, you'll unfortunately have to sub out JR for Michael Cole in everything else. I was never a fan of Cole, and his voicework tends to feel the most phoned in and robotic in this particular case. Speaking of sound quality, the crowd is also particularly bad. The camera is another problem (you should turn it off). It should, in theory, add drama to matches, but it ends up obscuring your view and going haywire more often than not.
If you're not one for nostalgia, you'll have to stick to the game's other modes. Thankfully, WWE '13 delivers with pretty much every type of match you've ever seen on TV -- then and now. "I Quit" matches, TLCs, Inferno matches, Tornado Tag, six-way Diva matches -- it's all here and ready to be played.
Creation modes are just as good as ever, and you can spend hours fine tuning a dream wrestler -- whether it's combing through his appearance, moves, intro, or more. There's even Create-An-Arena and Create-A-Belt modes! Your wildest dreams of creating your college professors and pitting them against each other can still be realized.
Online play is available, but it's gated behind an online pass with a seven-day free trial. While it's mostly your typical multiplayer affair, the developers have added the ability to put bots into lobbies (YES!), so you don't have to wait hours to find three other players (and have them constantly drop after being impatient) for a tornado tag match, for example. You also don't get XP for "bot/comp stomping" either, so you can't just game the system. Finally, there's plenty of DLC on the way, should you be into that sort of thing.
Outside of the addition of Attitude Mode, '13 is very similar to '12, but that isn't a bad thing. Although THQ has a number of issues to fix either by way of a patch or in next year's iteration, people looking for a solid wrestling game shouldn't be disappointed.
WWE '13, Carter 3:16 means I just reviewed your ass!
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