Review: WWE ’13 (Xbox 360)
After excitedly tearing the wrapper off my copy of WWE 13 I did what I always do when I get my hands on a new wrestling game. I spent the best part of four hours creating a single wrestler. Am I proud of that fact? Not particularly. Do I regret spending so much time creating one wrestler? No, because it was the only way Sadako from the Ringu films – minus the cool hair-in-the-face thing because that’s not one of the hairstyle options – would be able to, in a triple threat match, all in a matter of seconds, hit Beth Phoenix with a spinebuster, knock Kelly Kelly out cold with a superkick, then return to Beth Phoenix and pin her for the 1-2-3 to become Divas Champion in WWE Universe mode.
WWE Universe incorporates much of the General Manager mode which was sadly binned after one outing. You help shape the WWE Universe by taking part in AI-generated matches or by creating your own. You don’t like the holder of a particular belt? Fine, take a wrestler you do like, insert them into matches, and build their momentum until the AI gives them a shot at the title. It’s really up to you. You can take as much or as little control over matches and the momentum of wrestlers as you like. If you’re happy to let the AI decide on an outcome you can simulate a match. If you want to create a rivalry you can have a wrestler interfere in a match. If you want a specific wrestler to be humiliated and beaten to a pulp you can throw them into a 3v1 handicap match. The problem with this mode is that, besides a few bells and whistles which make it different from exhibition matches, it’s the same thing over and over again. WWE Universe would have benefited greatly from a gear shift now and again to keep things exciting. There’s something good in there but it takes a lot of patience to get the most out of it.
Attitude Era takes us back to the most exciting period in professional wrestling. It’s an absolute joy to relive classic matches featuring the likes of D-Generation X, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The New Age Outlaws, The Hart Foundation, The Undertaker, and Mankind. Besides the main objectives in each match there are historical objectives and completing these will unlock a variety of wrestlers, outfits, and bonus matches. Make no mistake, this mode is easily the best thing about this game.
The Attitude Era mode was a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand I really enjoyed reliving classic moments – and the ongoing WWE vs WCW ratings display made me want to watch the brilliant “Monday Night Wars” documentary again – but it highlighted the fact that the WWE in its current state is comparatively very weak. I recently attended Oran War, an event held at Oran Mor – a relatively small but beautiful venue in Glasgow, and it showcased the best of Scottish wrestling. The promotions who pooled resources to make Oran War possible are modest, in a country with a small population, but their energy and ambition makes today’s WWE look silly. ICW (Insane Championship Wrestling) try to emulate the Attitude era, in this little part of the world I call home, and if they can aspire to do that, to revive the passion and excitement once witnessed by millions around the world, you have to ask yourself – why can’t the WWE? Of course, none of this detracts from the Attitude Era mode being brilliant and given the current state of the WWE a walk down memory lane is more than welcome.
You can create a highlight reel from clips you save at the end of matches and this can be used as your entrance video. There’s a decent selection of commentary and sound effects which can be added to highlight reels, along with camera angles and video effects, to spice things up a bit. This is a nice feature but it’s not something many people will bother with more than once or twice.
The graphics are more detailed and sharper than in WWE 12 but it might not be too apparent since the selection of wrestlers and animations are largely the same. In Attitude Era mode, audio from the real events is used at the end of matches and in cut scenes, including Vince McMahon messing up saying “Hell in a Cell”, and this is a really nice touch.
As I write this review I’m watching an all-AI match I set up – a 3v3 Elimination Chamber Tornado Tag – with Hawk and Animal of The Road Warriors plus Mankind versus Bret Hart and The British Bulldog of The Hart Foundation plus The Undertaker. Before everything kicked off I was able to select which type of match I wanted from “quick”, “normal”, and the option I chose – “epic”. The action goes back and forth, with one team getting the upper hand only to see it snatched away, and it’s great to watch. In case you’re interested – The Road Warriors and Mankind won the match with a clean sweep. I’m not satisfied with that result so I’m going to take a more hands-on approach. The Hart Foundation, with the odds stacked in their favour due to unlimited finishers, will take on The Road Warriors, and that will be followed by The Undertaker and Kane destroying Mankind in a 2v1 handicap match. Why? Because I can, and so can you.
Some people might say that WWE 13, outside of Attitude Era, hasn’t progressed much from previous outings, and you know what – they’d be right, but Attitude Era is so good that it doesn’t matter. It pains me to acknowledge that while I remember everything about the Attitude era there will be wrestling fans out there who would only know The Rock from films had he not made a return to WWE. I won’t pretend I’m not on a nostalgia trip, and I know some fans will be unable to appreciate Attitude Era in the same way I do, but if you also remember that era and want to relive those special moments you should do yourself a favour and play this game, because Tigervamp said so.