WWE 13 is the next in a long line of entertaining wrestling games spanning over a decade. If you’re a fan of wrestling then you’re in for a treat, but if you aren’t then I’d advise renting this game first. The beauty and the beast of this title is the fact that it seems as though it was crafted almost entirely around the logic of ‘it would be cool if…’ While WWE 13’s shining consistency replicates the success of previous titles, the game does little to improve upon its aged formula.
For returning players who enjoyed the previous WWE games, two words sum up this installment: Welcome back. WWE 13 retains some of the stiff, artificial movements of its predecessors where square-shouldered characters stare down their opponents and shuffle awkwardly around the ring. While the updated roster of superstars gives the game a fresh and undeniable appeal, the mechanics are a bit archaic. In an age where vivid facial expressions and life-like movements are the status quo, WWE 13 falls short of the common standard.
But that’s not to undermine how entertaining the game is. Swinging steel chairs, igniting tables and using the leverage of skill to be creative with each match lives up to the simple fun that makes the series appealing. WWE 13 gives you the opportunity to be in the show – from building momentum to writhing in pain after a jaw-dropping display of straining athleticism – and that’s what makes it so fun. Storing finishers to use them consecutively or activate ‘OMG! Moments’ that allow you to tackle people through barricades, catch them with finishing moves in mid-air or slam them through the announcer’s table is a vivid reminder of what’s given WWE games self-preservation for years.
While the consistency of the series is an affirmation of each game’s entertainment value, it’s still very damning in terms of mechanics. Grapples, which are executed by the X button, transition seamlessly with one another but seem out of place when flickering to animations of slams and holds…much like in the old games. While the large variation of strikes remain true to each wrestler’s style, the lack of mix ups makes countering (done with the right trigger) a matter of memorization rather than reflex.
The only way to ensure that you don’t fall victim to counters is to change the timing of each input by waiting, which often slows down matches. It’s also worth noting that the appearance of the R2 icon is pointless and deceptive when the actual timing of the counter needs to be just before the move is executed. By the time the icon actually prompts you to press the button, you’re already too late to do counter. I do, however, agree with the ‘too early’ timing mechanic that prevents players from mindlessly mashing out of each move.
For the legion of “Attitude Era” pundits and cult following that hates everything John Cena, WWE 13’s campaign revolves around the golden age of wrestling. You can give the sarcastic thought of “Do I get to relive the Montreal Screwjob?” a nod of confirmation, because the answer is yes. You do. In order to unlock the large roster of characters and arenas in WWE 13, you must relive actual wrestling matches and complete historical objectives to perform them like they actually happened. You get a highlight reel of classic attitude era moments, the authentic announcer voice guy, and a story that mostly consists of WWE taking its victory laps around WCW and retelling the glorious tale of how the company rose above the odds.
In spite of my snide tone of indifference, I actually had a lot of fun with the Attitude Era mode. My only regret was that it didn’t briefly delve into some of the wrestling of today (outside of updating the roster so you can make the matches yourself, that is). Being the closest thing to a story mode in this game, Attitude Era accomplishes its goal of being fun, memorable and educating newer fans while satisfying its long-time followers with a well-orchestrated memento that gives WWE 13 a unique collector’s value.
WWE’s Universe mode, which basically allows the player to act as a booker, is still relatively shallow. It’s an excellent idea tarnished by the aged flaw of repeating cutscenes and the lack of a definitive purpose. I’d go as far as to say that the ability to manually edit the titles and make them change hands is a bit of a flaw, though many people probably enjoy having complete control over the roster. In my opinion, an immersive universe where created characters could feud, pursue titles, make alliances, cut promos and make choices that lead to one of many endings would be better than the utter rehashing that’s Attitude Era mode.
On the subject of created characters, character customization is still top-notch in WWE 13. The game embraces wackiness and balances it out with serious alternatives that allow you to create almost any kind of wrestler you can imagine. From control over bodily proportions, hair styles and accessories to having your own hand-picked repertoire of strikes and grapples, the range of customization in WWE 13 is delightfully limitless. You get complete control over fan signs and entrances, complete with the ability to use songs stored on your console for entrance music. Whether its customizing the way your character comes to the ring or the taunts he does to the crowd, this game does an extraordinary job at capturing a large variety of personalities in its diverse selection.
While WWE 13’s online multiplayer has undergone promising development, there are still basic problems from the last game that are left unresolved. Server latency in WWE 13 is unbearable to the point that finding games is near impossible. In order to get a steady stream of opponents, you’ll almost always end up creating a game and allowing only players with full bars of latency to connect. Everyone’s been pushed into this mentality, and its probably what makes finding games so hard to begin with. Even with a full connection, each online game is still patchy and riddled with annoying lag spikes. Running grapples are imbalanced to the point that most players end up spamming them online anyway, so even when you find a good game there are still flaws to tolerate.
All and all, WWE 13 really is a great game. The problem is that WWE 12, WWE 11, and Smackdown vs. Raw were all great games. Sports games like FIFA and 2K13 have all showcased their evolution in their graphics and the life-like animations of each character while the WWE brand has clung to an irrefutable consistency of ‘simply fun’ games. Sooner or later, like many of its colleagues, WWE will have to take yet another big step forward – another risk that will divide its fan base. And when it does, games like WWE 11, WWE 12 and WWE 13 will be obsolete as they should’ve been a few years ago.
- Action-packed gameplay that makes for hours of fun
- Comprehensive Attitude Era campaign
- New roster of wrestlers
- Laggy multiplayer servers
- Few improvements since last game
- Universe mode could have more depth
- Lack of a practice mode.
- List of instructions instead of tutorial mode.
7 out of 10.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com