Review: With a focus on the Attitude Era, WWE ’13 takes a trip to a fondly remembered period in pro-wrestling history. Is it a ‘Give me a Hell, Yeah!’ or a ‘Team Hell No’ for laying the smack down on your wallet?
John Cena is the face of the WWE. His t-shirts and merchandise are the most popular among kids, and as a result the ten-time champion gets a lot of screen time – something he has had for many years. However, watch RAW and you’ll hear him get as many boos from adults as he gets cheers from children. Why? Because his good guy, Superman-like, “comes back from anything” gimmick has gone stale.
Despite the promised revolution, WWE ’13 goes the same way as John Cena. It certainly has a core appeal, but many will fail to see what all the fuss is about, as it sticks to the same old formula. The one big swerve with this instalment, though, is the focus on Attitude Era – the edgy period between 1997 and 2001 in which the organisation gained major popularity.
Attitude Era mode recreates some of the key storylines of that time, including the rise of D-Generation X, The Rock, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and more. You control these guys as they fight each other in some of the important matches of the era. You could simply just win the matches, but WWE ’13 encourages you to recreate history under different circumstances, which if fulfilled, reward you with new content.
While they’re designed to recreate the thrills of the real thing, fulfilling objectives can feel like a chore. Need Kane to perform two Tombstones and a chokeslam? You’ll need to beat down the opposition enough so you can build up your momentum to perform a finisher three times. Need to get your opponent to a certain area of the arena? Enjoy trying to get them to move over there. While there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing the resultant in-game cut scenes, getting to that point feels like far too much work.
The slow, methodical nature of the controls don’t help your engagement either, as you tap buttons, occasionally with a push of a stick, to watch your superstar perform moves. Submissions add some button mashing interactivity, and while it does match the technical nature of wrestling, you can often feel like a bystander – especially when you see actual video footage of the event that’s far more exciting.
Get the tables!
The wide variety of match types available spice things up a bit – as it’s more fun when you’re smashing a steel chair into your opponents face – and WWE ’13 has to be praised for the sheer volume of content available. Outside of Attitude Era, WWE Universe mode returns, allowing you to pit stars of the past and the present against each other in ever-changing storylines as you challenge for gold, make enemies, form alliances and more.
It’s strangely compelling and encourages that “one more match” mentality as you want to find out what happens next. There’s a huge roster to choose from too, even if many stars of the era – most notably Kurt Angle, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz – aren’t available as they currently work for rival promotions or have seemingly been held back for DLC.
Get tired of facing off against A.I. opponents and you can take your candy ass online to pit yourself against other players. Online has been significantly improved, with none of the awful lag that hindered previous titles in the series. Furthermore, it’s here you’ll find a wide-range of user-generated stories, superstars and arenas, which are sure to act as a goldmine to hardcore fans.
What hasn’t improved are the graphics, which now look very dated. Your average, hulking superstar looks OK, nothing special, but after all this time hair still looks as fake as a pro-wrestling punch, while female wrestlers still look plastic. Clipping and glitches are also far too regular. It’s disappointing, especially when you consider how realistic former THQ and Yuke’s stable mate, UFC Undisputed 3, looks. A reboot of the engine is well in order for the next incarnation of WWE.
Still, there’s certainly more than enough here to keep WWE fans entertained. The bottom line is that, due to the very nature of a wrestling title, combined with some occasionally sloppy controls and dated visuals, those who aren’t fans of sports entertainment probably won’t find that much to enjoy outside of a nostalgia trip to a time gone by.
WWE ’13, from Yuke’s and THQ, is available now for Xbox 360 (reviewed) PS3 and Wii.