Madden NFL, the NBA 2K series, and other yearly sports titles generally release with little more than updated rosters, maybe a new feature or two, and potentially a lick of pain. In the past this would also have been true of the WWE games. This year though, it seems as if THQ has taken all of their improvements from the relaunch of the WWE games and crammed it full of new faces and new modes. The main question is, have they done enough to draw fans back, or is it a yearly rehash that can be skipped?
Last year’s tag was “Bigger, Better, Badder” and, despite that crime to the english language, it seemed to fit with the relaunch. This year, WWE ’13 is spouting “Live the Revolution” as its strapline and, while it is a step in the right direction, I’m not sure if ‘Revolution’ is quite the fitting term. Don’t get me wrong, it’s jammed full faces, both new and old, and new modes aplenty. But on the whole gameplay hasn’t changed in the slightest. Perhaps the line of “Stuffed like after Thannksgiving dinner” may have fitted better. Fans of the sport-cum-TV show will love the current roster, especially those found within the Attitude Era which some fans – myself included – claim to be the golden age of the WWE.
The greatest addition, by far, can be found within the Attitue Era Mode. It’s here that I was taken back to the days of watching the testosterone infused drama that I loved, and watched religiously, in my late teens and early twenties. This new mode takes you on a story throughout the famous “Monday Night Wars” between the WWE and WCW, which was nothing short of an all out battle for ratings between two companies for viewers on monday nights. Each chapter has you filling the laced boots of a certain superstar and in between matches videos showing historic moments in the sport are played. This is clearly a must play for all hardcore fans and is more than enough to keep the hardiest occupied.
What has always been a main concern in any sports title is how it feels to control. Can it recreate the certain ebb and flow that TV matches contain? Does it feel like you’re playing a game, and doing no more than bashing buttons? Essentially, have THQ managed to create n experience you can immerse yourself in? The biggest noticeable improvement in how WWE ’13 controls is that there’s no longer the ability to just eternally mash the reversal button. Now all you can do is tap it the once and wait for it to ‘unlock’ again, thus meaning that timing is now a necessity and it’s no longer down to who has the turbo powered finger.
Despite all the changes and masses of additions to WWE ’13’s engine is starting to show its age. While it isn’t a muddied mess, some of the wrestlers do look a little more than underwhelming. There’s still the occasional collision issue, which is nearly always frustrating to see, but on the other hand, some of the new animations and moves are impressive to see. It never becomes tiresome being able to RKO someone mid air, like Randy Orton has been known to do during live shows.
Last year’s entry may have had many hiccups with its online servers, but finally these problems seem to be fixed. Online community creations are also what could give the title some online legs, as I have experienced quite a few stellar fan-created stories, some of them being weekly “shows” that have a somewhat continuing line. There’s also nothing more satisfying that an winning an online Royal Rumble match.
WWE ’13 isn’t really the revolution that THQ billed it to be, but it’s fair to say that it should be considered an evolution. It’s a solid step in the direction that fans of the popular television series will be pleased with. As a longtime fan, I’m pleased with how THQ has dealt with my beloved WWE games. Considering THQ’s current financial situation, I’m hopeful future updates keep coming, but if they don’t and this is the end of the series in their hands, then it’s a swan song to be proud of.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: Nothing overly special here, nothing terrifically bad either.
Gameplay – 5/5: Modes, modes, and more modes. WWE ’13 is a wrestling fans dream.
Value – 5/5: With the amazing “Attitude Era” mode, as well as endless community created content, WWE ’13 should keep fans satisfied until well into the next year.
Innovation – 4/5: A revamped control system and new modes helps set this update from previous versions.
Final Score: 4/5