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WWE '13 review

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Stunning graphics, a nearly infinite range of customisation options, and the opportunity to relive the glory days of WWE...

WWE '13 review

Older fans of WWE will be grappling with happiness when they get the chance to play WWE 13; with a huge tip of the cap to days gone by and true legends like D-X and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

With developers promising improved online servers and the most interactive WWE universe to date, the game has taken terrific strides from last year's effort. The WWE game series is evidently moving in the right direction, towards a more D.I.Y. experience, perhaps in an attempt to give the game more shelf life, which works tremendously well.

Probably the most striking thing about the game is the actual graphics, which are in some places quite stunning. The movement of the wrestlers and the referee get more realistic each year and this is no exception, to the point where it is actually quite hard to envisage how much more realistic it can get. The tone is really set during the entrance sequences, from the brooding noir tumult of The Undertaker, to the camp prancing of Dude Love. One thing seasoned wrestling game players will be delighted to notice is that the ropes are now actual objects; when doing moves near them, wrestlers' legs will hit off them or get tangled in them, instead of just going through them, which made past games feel as cheap as a fake football shirt.

The gameplay has taken a delightful step back a little in terms of its development. For the past couple of years we had the right analogue stick serve as the grapple system, which was a bit fiddly. Now the A button is grapple and takes the game back to its simpler and more fun roots. Last year's game seems somewhat sluggish in comparison to this year’s effort, as the wrestlers glide gracefully across the mat and against the ropes. A nice addition to the match play is the ability to hold RB and check the damage to each part of the body, and then develop your own little strategy by singling out whatever part of the body you feel will help you most, e.g. when being Ken Shamrock, damaging the legs of an opponent will leave him almost helpless to resist tapping out to Shamrock's infamous ‘ankle lock’ finishing move. It is nice to see the game have more of a tactical side to go along with the button-bashing moments. All the old and more recent favourite match types are available to play in; from ‘hell in a cell’ to the likes of the ‘inferno’ match and the ‘elimination chamber’; providing a nifty backdrop for single or multiplayer action.

Season mode is now the ‘Attitude Era’, which takes you back in time to the glory days of WWE Attitude in the 90s. Suddenly Paul Bearer is blonde, and Vince McMahon is middle-aged, and you are taken through the story of the Monday night ratings battle between WWE and WCW. This progresses to the story of D-X, the feud between Stone Cold and Vince McMahon, the rise to fame of The Rock and the story of Mankind. With each match there is a set of objectives, and if all are completed then some content is unlocked (everyone likes unlockable content). It is a welcome addition for someone like me who loved wrestling back then, but after a long absence of watching it has now lost track of who the new wrestlers are. Some excellent moments are relived; Mike Tyson knocking out Shawn Michaels, Mankind flying off the ‘hell in a cell’ cage and through the announcement desk, and many more. However, the regimental nature of ‘Attitude Era’ can be somewhat laborious, as you have to win matches in specific ways after doing specific things. The nostalgia is there, and it is a chance for anyone who became fans later on to experience the most legendary period in the WWE’s history, but it also feels slightly one-dimensional.

The eagle-eyed gamer will be able to spot some continuity errors during the stories, which is always frustrating. During the storyline, which finishes with the forming of DX, there are people (seemingly psychics) with DX shirts in the crowd. Also, in one challenge, where Stone Cold must win the Royal Rumble, Mick Foley comes out to the ring twice, as Dude Love and Cactus Jack. However, this may only annoy pedantic folk out there, like myself.

What the regimental structure does provide at times, though, is the all-round WWE experience; as the legendary storylines unfold, the commentary unfolds with it, a pleasant change from hearing the same 9 or 10 automated statements throughout each match. Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler will discuss the match and what is going in during that time at WWE, often with special guests in the shape of the wrestlers, talking trash and so forth; it becomes evident how the commentary in sports games can really be used to tie everything together as it does in real life.

Although the ‘Attitude Era’ section of the game has a defined structure, there is nothing restrictive about the WWE Universe. This option gives you the ability to create your own storylines, and events where everything develops however you would like it to happen. Whilst you miss out on the feeling of unpredictability, the big plus is that you can make anything happen. Anything. You choose who is having a feud, where, for what title, for how long, and can give it a script, which can make things so much more interesting/immature/hilarious. This area of the game has developed from last year, with the ability to take anything you create online to be shared. The ability to download other people’s creations means that, if you really love wrestling, you could potentially never tire of playing WWE 13.

The opportunities are made even more infinite (as impossible as that is) by the millions of options available in the WWE creation centre. Always a renowned element of wrestling games, you can intricately piece together your dream superstar or diva, how they enter the ring and what moves they prefer. You can even create a signature move yourself, to supply your created superstar with the special idiosyncrasies that make the biggest WWE stars so great. I took the opportunity to make Joseph Stalin, tyrannical former leader of the USSR, and made him a little Soviet arena to fight in. I then placed him in an extreme rules match with Stone Cold Steve Austin. All of this being able to happen before my very eyes is testament to the sheer scale of things you could think of and do with the game. I did say anything, didn’t I?

Overall, the series has taken big strides forward from last year. Better online capabilities and a more inventive WWE Universe are topped off delightfully by the chance to relive some of the WWE’s greatest and most defining moments. There is enough substance to the offline play to keep you entertained for a long time, and for long-time wrestling fans the whole experience will be profoundly satisfying.

4 stars


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#1 Mr NLO85 2012-11-10 05:18
Mick Foley actually came out as all 3 of his alter ego's for the '98 Royal Rumble...
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