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Review: WWE '13

05 Nov 2012

Last year’s WWE ’12 was the supposed “reboot” of THQ’s long running Smackdown vs. Raw wrestling series.

It introduced a new physics engine, but the game was riddled with lots of flaws and the graphics remained the same. WWE ’13 is now available and does its best to get rid of the mistakes made in WWE ’12. Does the game succeed however?

First of all, WWE ’13 boasts the largest and arguably the best roster in WWE video game history. Not only does the game feature popular current stars such as John Cena, Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, there’s also a ton of wrestlers you can choose from the “Attitude Era” too.

If you grew up watching wrestling in the late ‘90s, you’ll love playing as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker just to name a few. THQ is set to release three DLC packs for the game that adds even more names to the list. In total, WWE ’13 has over 100 playable characters!

Speaking of the “Attitude Era”, this is a huge part of the game as it replaces last year’s boring “Road to WrestleMania” mode. Unlike in previous games, the stories here are based on actual WWE storylines and matches from what was arguably the best era in professional wrestling history.

The “Attitude Era” mode takes you back to August 1997 and goes all the way up to March 1999 concluding at WrestleMania XV.

Gamers get a chance to relive some of the most memorable moments and matches during that time including the start of the classic feud between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin and even the infamous Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind.

Not only can you play through these matches, but there are video vignettes you can view and you have the chance to unlock a lot of bonus content playing through this mode as well. Some of the content includes bonus matches you can play, championship belts and even more wrestlers for you to play as.

The “Attitude Era” mode is without a doubt the best feature not only in WWE ’13, but quite possibly the most fun you’ll have in years playing a wrestling video game. If you grew up watching wrestling in the late ‘90s (like I did), there are hours of fun to be had here in WWE ‘13’s Attitude Era mode.

Visually, WWE 13 is pretty much on par with WWE ’12. Most of the character models look exactly the same way they did in last year’s game. The only improvements that have been made are to some of the newer character models they had to create.

The Attitude Era versions of Kane and The Rock look more glossy and shiny than ever before. Still, I feel the graphics in WWE video games have reached its peak and its unlikely major changes will be made until the next generation consoles finally arrive in the near future.

A bit unfortunate really because WWE video games looked great in the PS2/Xbox era but never really improved greatly since then…

The overall gameplay has remained the same from last year’s game. Grapples are still initiated by pressing the X (A) button while the rest of the controls are similar too. The only new additions to the gameplay are the return of two match types.

“Special Referee” matches make a glorious comeback and the “I Quit” match has had an overhaul. In exhibition mode, you can now store infinite finishers which makes matches as fun as they were back when “Here Comes the Pain” came out in 2003.

I have to say though; the game still isn’t a huge overhaul and never quite reaches the same type of addictive fast-paced gameplay that was offered in Here Comes the Pain.

The newest gimmick that has been added to WWE ’13 apart from the Attitude Era mode is the new “OMG Finishers”. These special moves can only be used when you have earned a finishing move and it allows you to recreate some of the most spectacular moments in WWE history.

If you want to relive the moment when Mark Henry and Big Show imploded the entire ring last year, you can do this in WWE ’13. Oddly enough, the game doesn’t allow Brock Lesnar to do the same move even though he did the exact same thing on Big Show nine years ago…

The popular “Create-An-Arena” mode makes a comeback and has been upgraded to allow you to change the design of the staging area too. WWE ’13 gives you templates for several real-life stages to modify for your own liking.

You can alter everything here from the colours of the mat, to even the lighting of the arena. Several people came up with some pretty creative designs in WWE ’12, so I’m sure the same kind of people will have even more fun with the expanded options available in this game.

There is also still the other extensive creation modes available here too where you can create your own finishing move, superstar, entrance, and storyline.

Universe Mode 3.0 is the other big addition in WWE ’13 aside from the Attitude Era mode. This mode was guided by former ECW owner Paul Heyman. The mode includes 200 new storyline feuds and allows you to customize everything from the match cards, PPV shows and a whole lot more.

As fun as WWE ’13 is, the game isn’t perfect. Graphical glitches still occur from time to time, although they do look humorous at times. One time I was playing as Chris Jericho and his legs got stuck on a table and he started to expand like Mr Fantastic from the Fantastic 4.

Another incident saw Stone Cold’s arm rotate in ways humans aren’t able to do in real life. Thankfully though, glitches don’t occur as often as they did in WWE ’12…

The framerate for the PS3 version of WWE ’13 is poor too. The game slows down several times and lags. Even when you’re playing the game offline, it feels like the same type of lag you would experience while playing online.

I contacted a fellow game reviewer to ask him about the Xbox 360 version of WWE ’13 and he told me that he did not experience the same issue. Xbox 360 gamers will be happy to know about this, although this is sad news for PS3 owners.

The audio in WWE video games have always been poor and in WWE ’13, it’s a mixed bag. The commentary and crowd reactions are red-hot and exciting when you’re playing through the game’s Attitude Era mode because THQ recorded actual crowd noises and grabbed other sound bites from that era.

If you’re not playing the Attitude Era mode, the mundane commentary from Michael Cole will bore you to death as will the sounds from the uninteresting crowd.

Another thing WWE ’13 lacks is a tutorial mode. The only thing beginners can do is read the in-game tutorials from the options in the main menu. The game doesn’t even tell you that “OMG Finishers” are a new feature in the game.

Had I not been following the game’s announcement for several months, I would not have known they had existed. THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3 had an extensive tutorial mode that was very helpful – even though it took over an hour to complete.

The online features in WWE ’12 were shocking. It wasn’t that there was a lack of features available; it was the fact that the servers were always offline.

THQ never actually rectified this issue until several months after the game came out. By then, most gamers already traded the game in. It’s safe for me to say that the online servers in WWE ’13 have improved dramatically.

You won’t be experiencing the same problems so you can play online or download community created content as much as you want.

WWE ’13 is a huge improvement over WWE ’12 in a lot of ways. The Attitude Era mode singlehandedly is the best thing about the entire game. Not only does it perfectly recreate that era, it’s also fun to play too.

Although the same flaws still plague the game such as the mediocre graphics, uneven commentary and some glitches. However with the amount of features that WWE ’13 offers, you can almost forgive the flaws it still has.

It may not be the best wrestling game of all time, but it’s certainly the best one that’s been out for the past five years.

Graphics: 6.5Gameplay: 8.0Sound: 7.5Lasting appeal: 9.5

Overall: 8.5