WWE ‘13 Xbox 360 Review
Publisher - THQ – Developer - Yukes – Genre - Sports/Fighting – Players – 1-6 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii
Last year’s revamp and rebrand of THQ and Yuke’s wrestling games was a sensible decision, as the series formally titled WWE Smackdown and then WWE Smackdown vs. Raw had long been due an overhaul of its primary mechanics and underlying engine. The game wasn’t graced with the much needed new engine, though like its simpler title of WWE, it was dragged back to basics, resulting in a game with more in the way of focus. It was far from perfect, but it was nevertheless the best grappling game to come from the publisher and developer in a number of years.
This year’s game, WWE ‘13, is still held back by dated tech, whilst there’s once again a number of features that have long been in desperate need of improvement, but have once again gone untouched: under developed wrestler models, with silly looking hair, tag team matches where the inactive wrestlers don’t recharge, poor AI, uninspired commentary, numerous bugs (occasionally even game breaking) and an online component which is still too often plagued with lag.
WWE ‘13 is only the second game since its overhaul, so, much as you’d expect, the in-ring action has merely received a tweaking this time around. The controls and grapple system are identical to the previous game, with moves being determined by positioning, with further and more devastating options opening up once your opponent is in a groggy state. Meanwhile the reversal system is still situated on one button, though this time around there’s an on-screen indicator to assist you in timing them.
The handy limb targeting mechanic introduced last year has been retained, allowing you to easily work on an individual body part of an opponent so that you’re able to wear it down, before locking in a submission manoeuvre to make your opponent tap out, though sadly the Breaking Point Submission System is still built around unsatisfying button bashing.
The most powerful ability in each wrestlers arsenal are their finishers of which are once again preceded by the opportunity to deliver signature moves to your opponent. Comebacks, which, just as the name suggests, allows for a heavily damaged wrestler to stage a come back, triggering a brief QTE, which will immediately grant you a signature and finisher if you are successful. Last time around the ability didn’t really last long enough to have that much of an impact on how a match played out, though in the new game there’s a larger window to unleash it, making it a much more valuable tactic for those on the end of a nasty beating.
Last year’s much vaunted Predator Technology was a welcome new addition, of which allowed for slicker animation, though with some nasty glitches, it was desperately in need of some polishing too. Such issues, through my own experience, are a thing of the past with WWE ‘13, though the fairly nice animations still aren’t anywhere as fluid or believable as Midway’s TNA Impact game from a few years ago.
Fresh this year are OMG! moments, which allows you pull off some spectacular things, such as a ring implosion (as a result of a suplex from the turnbuckle involving two super heavy weights) smashing your opponent through a barricade, or when your opponent jumps from the turnbuckle it’s possible to spectacularly counter them with finishers like Randy Orton’s RKO or Chris Jericho’s Code Breaker. Since OMG! moments require the use of a finisher and are in some cases weaker than a regular finisher, it’s difficult to see any true advantage to using them beyond the novelty and spectacle of them, but they still nevertheless grant some welcome variation to your arsenal.
In regards to roster, there are over 60 wrestlers on offer. Current superstars like CM Punk, John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler are on offer, though the likes of Damien Sandow and Ryback are unfortunately DLC. To many, however, such absences won’t matter as Attitude era superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and Mick Foley are also featured. 60 wrestlers might sound a lot, though there’s multiple incarnations of certain wrestlers, of which largely have identical movesets, which makes the number less impressive.
As always when it comes to match options, you’re spoilt for choice: there’s all the usual Tag Team, Table, Cage, Hell in a Cell, No Disqualification and such on offer. I Quit matches have been absent in recent games, but have been reintroduced here, with your objective being to inflict enough damage on your opponent to force him to say I Quit, however with more proficient wrestlers this is easier said than done, resulting in some awfully long drawn out matches.
The primary single player mode is the WWE Attitude Era mode, of which covers the period of when wrestling was at the peak of its popularity and, to many that experienced it, at its most exciting as well. The mode will have a broad appeal amongst wrestling fans, allowing for those that experienced it to be showered in masses of glorious nostalgia, whilst those that didn’t will get the chance to learn the events that contributed to its mega success.
The mode is split into individual chapters interspersed with nicely put together video packages and focussing on the likes of the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock and the formation of Degeneration X. The heavily scripted nature of last year’s equivalent Road to WrestleMania mode has thankfully been done away with. There are optional historical objectives that, if accomplished, will allow you to earn some of the games’ numerous unlockables (many of which are wrestlers and arenas from the Attitude era) as well as getting the chance of reliving history at the same time.
WWE ‘13 has a number of issues that are hard to overlook, most of which are likely to do with its crusty engine, but its tweaks have resulted in a moderately better game than its predecessor nevertheless . In spite of its problems, it’s a feature rich wrestling title that still has enough in the way of strengths to be a robust and enjoyable game with a wonderful look back at what many consider to be the glory age for professional wrestling