And a couple of things that we’re worried about.
Last week we had the privilege of playing WWE ’13 for the first time, with none other than professional strongman Mark Henry gazing over our shoulders. “I’d better win,” he said to us as we pandered longingly at the character select screen and selected Mr Sexual Chocolate himself to face off against the one and only ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. Well he was standing right there, we couldn’t very well go for The Rock now could we?
Current WWE fans will have noticed at this point that WWE ’13 is a bit of a departure from the series you’ve gotten used to, as this year to supplement the current roster Yukes and THQ have added lots of superstars from the beloved ‘Attitude’ era – taking a page out of the WWE All Stars book. Does this compromise what this series is all about or is WWE ’13 a love letter to all those that love wrestling, even its edgier days? Here are our thoughts:
Five Things We Love:
- Wrestling with Attitude
The WWE has gotten a bit soft since it adopted its PG rating across all its programming around two years ago, so it’s only natural that THQ and Jukes want to liven things up with the reintroduction of Mankind, The Rock, Steve Austin and oddly enough Mike Tyson to compliment the current talent pool currently mixing it up. As a wrestling fan who doesn’t have a lot of time for talent like The Mizz, John Cena or even worse Randy Orton, getting to see real legends of the ring mixing it up is really great with all the respective intro scenes, moves and animations as they should be – even including Stone Cold’s brash with an ATV during the nineties. At the moment the final roster is still yet to be revealed and there are some big question marks over the lesser stars of the Attitude era like Kurt Angle, The Hardy Boyz and Rikishi but we remain hopeful that THQ can pull some strings with McMahon.
- OMG Moments
To further deliver on the cinematic vision shown for the first time in last year’s game, this year Yukes has introduced a context-dependent move system. Basically these OMG Moments occur whenever your fight a guy outside the ring by a barrier, steps, announcer table and other key areas with a button prompt popping up encouraging you to interact with the scenery in the most daring way possible. For example, throwing the opposition into the steps, send them crashing through the barrier or suplexing the poor soul into the commentary nest. These moments are punctuated by instant replays from multiple angles in true WWE fashion, showcasing the elaborate move in all its glory. This new gameplay addition is a bit gimmicky, but it does enable some of the more epic moments in WWE history to be performed by players perfectly, like that infamous moment when The Undertake chucked Mankind off the top of the steel cage into a commentary table thirty feet below at King of the Ring ’98.
- New Storymode
The story-based Road to Wrestlemania mode is gone this year and in its place is a retelling of key moments from WWE’s Attitude era with real archive e footage to supplement the emulated action. We always liked the story-based mode in previous games, but we think adopting a more historical focus is infinitely better than telling another reject plot from Sports Entertainment’s army of writers. The use of archive footage was the best part of the WWE spin-off Legends of Wrestlemania and that element should be just as effective here.
- Better Sound Design
This may sound like a minor thing, but honestly the WWE series has fallen short when it comes to sound design for multiple iterations. This year that changes with a new sound team, supplemented by some folks from THQ San Diego. They’v captured crowd audio from actual arenas full of fans during WWE broadcasts, so the game should sound much more authentic. Of course whether that applies to talent performances and more importantly the commentary team is a different thing altogether.
- The Return of the Special Referee
This year’s WWE game will feature the return of the Special Referee match-type where the player can take direct control of the match by embodying the referee. You can count pin falls really fast or really slow, hit out at competitors and distract competitors to allow the other wrestler to gain the upper hand. All of your interactions are governed by a separate meter and if you try to interfere too much the match will be called off. It’s a really good system which when played with others can lead to lots of fun, as you count ever so slowly to 1-2-3 when one party has is dominating their opponent or better yet perform a finisher on one of them. This is just another example of THQ listening to what fans want and like a lot of WWE 13′s features a lot of fans maybe won’t try it out – but we were still glad the guest referee functionality has returned.
And here’s what we didn’t like
- Overly Simple Fighting System
We appreciate the new cinematic look of the fighting engine, but the gameplay still seems way too simplistic for a wrestling game with on-screen button prompts dominating proceedings. The reversal system is also way too easy to counter with player versus player bouts leading to few initial grapples and attacks actually landing. It’s worth noting that what we sampled was very early code, but still it’s a bit disconcerting that old problems remain in the core fighting model
- New and Old Collide
Here’s the thing, modern WWE is much cleaner and more family-friendly than the beast which terrorised television during the nineties. Being true to modern WWE while emulating one of the most daring and exciting eras to ever grace sports entertainment are two entirely different things. It’ll be a tug of war between WWE and THQ regarding what they can get in, and for the moment too many questions remain about WWE ’13′s emulation of the Attitude era to get really excited. We hope they stay true to that exciting period, but when it comes to licensed games there’s always that element of doubt.
Expect more news about WWE ’13 as we get ever closer to the game’s launch on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii this October.
Tags: WWE 13
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