THQ is back with another World Wrestling Entertainment title with WWE 13 for PS3, Wii and Xbox 360. This year’s edition isn’t a major overhaul like last year’s edition, but that’s a good thing because WWE 13 represents much of what was enjoyable about last year’s reboot. It is a full step forward with much improved gameplay and game modes. For fans of the franchise, WWE 13 is a nice bold step forward from the momentous step the franchise took a year ago.
WWE 13 Features
WWE 13 touts some improved features as well as some amazing new gameplay modes. WWE Live is the trademarked technology that brings the magic behind live events into the game. It features a brand new audio and presentation system meant to provide an experience similar to watching RAW on television. A new feature, dubbed “The Attitude is Back” takes wrestling marks back to the most influential history of WWE’s history – the era of Attitude. This mode is a single player campaign focused on the eight core individuals (including the likes of Shawn Michaels, HHH, Vince, Mankind, The Rock, Stone Cold, etc.) that defined the era and the “Monday Night Wars” so many wrestling fans fondly look back upon. There’s also “WWE Universe 3.0″ which features a career-style mode offering individual options and decisions during the course of play that determine your fate, paving a path (ideally) toward becoming WWE champion. The Predator Technology is back with a version 2.0 system driven by new animations, transitions, controls and action.
WWE 13 features a massive roster of superstars past and present, with some wrestlers being represented multiple times to show off their evolution over time. There are over 105 different spots on the roster (counting the ones available via DLC) representing the biggest roster for a WWE game in THQ’s history . It’s great to see some of these wrestlers who have passed away or are otherwise missing off the face of the planet, return in a game to relive the glory days or create dream match ups.
For those that have yet to jump into a WWE video game from THQ, or haven’t revisited the franchise in many years, there’s going to be a learning curve to master the Predator fighting system which is based on grappling and well timed button selection. Attack moves will vary considerably depending on your position against your opponent and if the superstar being controlled happens to be on the top rope, holding a chair, or is in motion. There’s a definite combination of art and science behind the gameplay that definitely rests on the side of the more difficult than easy. Wrestlers will show obvious fatigue and injury during matches rather than defer to some arbitrary “health bar” (none exists) which should be exploited by opponents to win a match. There are signature moves that players will eventually open up during a match that are unique to most of the superstars on the roster.
The reversal system, which frankly was a pain in last year’s game, is a little easier to work with, although many inexperienced gamers might still find it frustrating to hit R2 at *just the right time* and have to be constantly prepared for it. There’s a real cohesive feel to the match that lends itself to authenticity as there are no real magic turnaround victories, but comebacks certainly do happen. Between all the different match types (if it’s been done on TV, it’s in the game) the variety really extends the replayability of WWE 13.
The new presentation layer in WWE 13 is impressive as it absolutely mimics the feel of a live WWE broadcast. The wrestler introductions are spot on, as usual, with model renderings of each wrestler done with excellent accuracy. The physics of the matches themselves are still rather standard and not nearly as fluid as you would see in other fighting genre games, a indicative of the fact that this game is more grappling/strategy than anything else out there. The graphics aren’t going to blow anyone away, but they don’t detract from the game either. The plus in this category for WWE 13 is the impressive presentation layer, with decent but not mind-blowing fluid animations and graphics from the action inside the ring.
WWE 13 features a good soundtrack and all the songs for wrestler introductions are in the game as well. There’s a variety of commentator teams, featuring the new as well as the old (yes, good old JR!) but overall, the play-by-play in the game is well below par. While the Madden franchise has seen critical comments for its less-than-stellar play-by-play, what you get in WWE 13 might be below that in terms of performance. It’s a shame, because a lot of the fun in watching a wrestling match is the amazing and enthusiastic commentary. Instead, J.R. or Michael Cole will simply state the move and after some time, Jerry Lawler will almost discordantly chime in with some analysis.
For wrestling fans, WWE 13 is a great game that offers another solid step forward for the franchise. The game modes are the highlight of the title, with the “The Attitude is Back” mode being nothing short of sensational. The gameplay itself is decent, with the presentation layer, graphically, shining. The play-by-play is definitely a sore spot, but other than that, WWE 13 serves as a very solid title best enjoyed by wrestling fans everywhere.