How many times have you heard someone say the following: “Ah the good old days, they were great weren’t they” or “In my day, everything was much better”? To anyone that has ever said this publicly I have bad news for you. Yes, things may suck right now, but they weren’t any better in the past. Our entire history is fraught with betrayal, death and misery. But let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s reminisce because it’s what us gamers do best; clinging on to the past, and all its innocence, in the vein hope of staving off the harshness of modern day games.
It would seem we’re not the only ones in a particularly nostalgic mood. All evidence seems to suggest that the folks at Yuke’s and THQ are feeling particularly sentimental at the moment, if WWE ’13 is anything to go by.
The WWE game series is synonymous with the concept of age. For starters there has been a lot of games in the series, charting back to the likes of WWF Wrestlemania on the NES and beyond. But over the past decade its a series that has, for better or for worse, done very little to stray too far away from the formula. It’s double edged sword as it means that fans know they are always getting, solid, reliable installments to the series, but at the same time there’s very little in the way of innovation, nothing feels different and before you know it the brand new games released feel aged right out of the box. It’s no secret that the franchise is in dire need of a shake up and WWE 13 doesn’t offer that, but it’s not a bad game because of it.
It will come as no surprise that WWE 13 inherits the same frustrations of previous WWE releases. The clumsy, slow grappling system is back with a vengeance, the awkward control system remains and visuals, which felt outdated about four or five years ago, remain pretty much unchanged. For all intents and purposes it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. There’s no denying that a revamp from the ground up is still needed but what WWE 13 still manages to do, like the previous games in the series, is encapsulate the excitement of making your dream matches and recreating your favourite moments.
This is why the game’s brand new Attitude Era mode is somewhat of a revelation. For the uninitiated, the Attitude Era took place during the 1990′s, when the WWF (as it was known back then) adopted a more harsh edge, headlined by wrestlers like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Sure, it’s not unlike anything we’ve seen before in a WWE game but at least it’s something a little different and, above other things, it’s bloody brilliant. I’ll admit it, I grew up with the Attitude Era of wrestling, so I’m old enough to remember all the historic moments and revisiting them as been nothing but joy. Packed full of nostalgia, intrigue and compulsion in equal measures, Attitude Era represents everything great about the game. The ability to revisit and recreate some of the most memorable moments in wrestling history.
And that’s not all. Aside from personal investment it’s a damn fine addition to the series too. Its mash up of promos, scenario based gameplay and FMVs is exciting, educational and challenging in equal measures. My only complaint is I would’ve liked to have seen more archive footage shown rather than in game reenactments of promos. Other than that? Nothing but nostalgic bliss.
The problem is that there has been so much work put into Attitude Era mode that it feels like it’s been left to carry the game, a feeling compounded by just how much coverage that single mode as been in the games huge marketing campaign. Other new features are fairly minimal, including the ‘OMG Moments’ (more environmental based super moves) helping you to send your foes crashing through barricades and announce tables, and there’s been huge improvement in terms of sound design. Crowd ambiance and commentary are simply more intelligence, reacting differently to match ups and moments, making things feel much more believable than ever before. Unfortunately the ethos as been more of the same elsewhere.
The Creative Suite and Universe mode have more customization and options but there’s none of the drastic changes the series needs. Universe Mode, meanwhile, presents numerous opportunities for organic story telling, with multiple branching paths, but it all feels far too random. In one instance, after pursuing the US Title and successfully becoming champion, my character did not have any matches scheduled for a whole in-game month. The fact that all of the story elements are randomised can potentially lead to a lot of waiting around for exciting things to happen.
The ability to customise almost every aspect of the game, from stadiums, wrestlers’ clothing, and logos are all well and good but they bring very little of what the series needs to the table, real change.
Ultimately this is what WWE 13 is all about. It’s solid, competent, even outstanding in some areas with the new Attitude Era mode, which is why it certainly isn’t a bad game. But it isn’t the revamp the series desperately needs. Maybe next yeah hey?
Graphics: 2/5 – Character models and textures look outdated, as ever.
Sound: 4/5 – Vastly improved crowd ambiance and commentary, reacting more to what’s going on during the matches providing a more authentic experience. More intelligent and believable.
Gameplay: 3/5 – Largely unchanged. New addition of the ‘OMG Moments’ is nice but minuscule in comparison. Attitude Era mode is a brilliant addition to the series but everything seems just more of the same.
Longevity: 4/5 – Attitude Era mode adds a surprising amount of hours on top of a Creative Suite and Universe mode which provide oodles of hours of gameplay. Although WWE 13 may not offer little in the way of new innovations, it has longevity in abundance. Enough to tide you over for next year.
Overall: 3 out of 5
Carried by it’s new Attitude Era mode, WWE 13 provides more of the solid wrestling experience you’ve come to expect from the series. The only problem is games in the series has been doing this for years. Ultimately WWE 13 is a perfectly fine game, but I can’t shake the feeling that the series could do with a bit of a shake up.
- Kieran E. Roycroft