WWE ’13 (Xbox 360) Review

WWE titles have always been a lot of fun and having reviewed the past few WWE titles I’ve come to look forward to the epic bouts and the drama that are sure to be present in each title. This year we get something new in WWE ‘13, and after learning about “Attitude Era” my interest was captured immediately.  I began watching wrestling back in the glory days (1990’s) and loved the antics of DX, the brashness of Stone Cold and the rise of The People’s Champ, The Rock.  Having great memories of this era will make many a fan want this title and this fan is ready to jump in on this journey down memory lane.

A well-rounded gameplay and a surplus of content is what truly make a game.  WWE ‘13 does not disappoint in this area as it provides a multitude of game options, the new “Attitude Era”, over 100 playable characters split between current stars and attitude stars, creation tools, a career mode and more.  Gameplay has come a long way from the button mashers of the past.  Matches are now great tactical battles involving strategy and timing for success.  Combat in the ring can be broken down into a series of moves: strikes, grapples, reversals, submissions and special moves.  A reversal is performed by hitting the right button at the right time to deflect or turn a move against an opponent.  To hit a special move you need to have built up enough momentum to pull it off.  Strikes and grapples involve a combination of button presses and circumstance.  Such things as where you are standing or where your opponent is are factors that will determine which move is performed here.  There are a lot of moves for each superstar and after a little practice you can tap into their true potential.

The controls themselves have not changed much from last year as they have kept additions like Limb Targeting, Wake Up Taunts, and Positioning opponents.  The controls remain familiar and fans will appreciate the fact that there seems to be someone listening at THQ and Yukes as they have toned down the frequency of reversals that I was plagued with in WWE 12.  Keep in mind though if you are finding it a bit too much you can change how often reversals are done in the settings menu and create just the right challenge for yourself.

The AI controlled wrestlers are similar to their live action counterparts, but I did find that there were times when matches carry on for quite a while and the CPU starts using the same attacks several times in a row before switching it up.  At first I thought it might just be a coincidence, but it happened so much that it definitely becomes a pattern and is quite noticeable.  It doesn’t hamper the overall gameplay though and I was glad for that.

The different game modes have, for the most part, remained the same from last year along with a few additions, the most notable being the “Attitude Era” discussed later on in this review.  First off are the additions of the “I Quit Match” and the King of the Ring Tournament.  I Quit Matches were quite popular during the Attitude Era so it is quite fitting that this match type is included.  It is fairly simple as you beat the crap out of your opponent with anything possible to force them into saying the words “I Quit” to end the match.  This is done through a mini game where if you are on the receiving end you have to time a button press to hit the words ‘No’ on a moving bar.  If you are the one laying the beatdown then you need to make sure your opponent is so badly beaten that they can’t hit that ‘No’ bar on the meter.

King of the Ring on the other hand is a tournament where you fight a 1 on 1 battle against a superstar and if you win you move on to another match against another opponent.  This tourney happens during one Pay Per View so it is definitely a grueling testament to a superstar’s ability as a wrestler.  The tourney can involve as little as 4 stars or up to 16 which could obviously make some great in home tournaments with friends battling it out to see who the King of the Ring is.

Game Modes are pretty standard with WWE Universe returning with WWE Universe 3.0.  Building on Universe 2.0 you are still able to customize your rosters, create/disband tag teams, assign championships and abilities to Superstars.  A Universe Draft is included and the addition of stats for players to check how they are doing has been included.  What I like about WWE Universe this year is that you can opt out of storylines that don’t interest you and focus on what really matters to you as a player rather than following stories that are boring, or in some cases that are really annoying.  It is quite refreshing to have a title that puts the player first when it comes to the ability to customize exactly what the player wants.

Additionally, there are the standard suite of match types that can either be played in single matches, tags or more complicated match types like Extreme Rules, Ironman, Ladder, Last Man Standing, Steel Cage, Hell in the Cell, Triple Threat, Fatal Four Way, 6 Man, Inferno or Royal Rumble that you usually only to get to see at PPV events.  Keep in mind each match type has their own set of rules, and in some cases specific controls that apply to them.  So study up and make sure you are ready to put some boot to ass.

WWE ‘13 online offers many of the same matches available in single player from simple one on one battles to Steel Cage, Elimination Chambers, Backstage Brawls and a personal favourite of mine the Royal Rumble.  What I love about playing Royal Rumble online is that you get a bunch of human players together and just brawl it out to see who is on top of the food chain and it is much more of a test of skill than something like King of the Ring.  Online also includes leaderboards of how well you fair in ranked matches, but if you are curious for specific info on how well you’ve done overall, right down to particular match types, you can check this out too so you can see where you need to improve.  Overall, the online features are intensive and provide some replay value after you get through the single player “Attitude Era” campaign.

As I said in my introduction I was very excited for “Attitude Era” as it takes some of the best of the storylines I grew up with in the WWE universe with Rise of DX, Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon, The Rock and the rivalry between Kane and The Undertaker. The Attitude Era takes place during the two years when Raw went head to head with WCW’s Monday Night Nitro where they were not only on the losing end in ratings, the were losing superstars to WCW as well.  Personally I loved the history of this mode where you get to see video archives of storyline surrounding these superstars, and for fans that never really enjoyed in what many say are the glory days of the WWE it is a real treat to see where a lot of the current stars got their start and where they have come from.  Not only do you get treated with video archives but the audio from the commentators and superstars are used to enhance the gameplay experience as well.

What really makes Attitude Era quite unique is each of the matches have Historical Objectives.  Some of them are optional while others have to be completed to win the match.  If you complete the objectives you get a sense of accomplishment for sure, but you also unlock quite the mother lode of unlockables that include more superstars, venues, and championship belts to enhance the gameplay experience.  Not only do you get these unlocks, completing the objectives will also unlock bonus videos that bring back those great memories.  Attitude Era is by far my favourite campaign to come to a WWE title in quite a long time where I get to a total of 60 matches to play and bring me through one of the greatest eras in WWE history providing a refresher, or in some cases a history lesson, for fans.

The visual quality of WWE ‘13 has been enhanced since last year’s release.  The character models have greatly improved with stunning duplications of superstars like Mankind, The Undertaker, Kane, HBK, The Rock and many more, over 100 to be exact with all chillingly remarkable likeness to their human counterparts.  Hairstyles, tattoos and clothing are all in the right places and the animations are great with signature poses & gestures being nailed and even a superstar’s swagger as they walk down to the ring has been carefully duplicated.  All this was most likely made easier this year as the superstars did some motion capturing to allow for greater authenticity.  Last year I made a comment about my wife mistaking the game for the televised program and once again I can say that the visuals are on par with the show and are a great testament to the visuals throughout the title.

A great addition to the visuals this year are the cut scenes from historic WWE footage that have been included in the Attitude Era campaign mode.  Not only did this footage bring back tons of memories and history they also intertwined some of these videos within the matches by re-creating key moments which was a nice touch.

The ability to customize and create just about anything in the game returns this year with some improvements and quite a few fan requests having been incorporated into this suite of tools.  Standard in most WWE titles for some time is the ability to edit Superstars or to create your own Superstar with several hundred parts to edit with the basics like body type, hair, eyes and the ability to choose skin colour.  The creation tool also allows you to customize your boots and kneepads where you can put logos and change colours on them to add a little more personality to your stars.  In past games created characters have seemed out of place and just a bit off, but the WWE ‘13 developers have done a wonderful job in making sure that the created wrestlers fit visually into the WWE rosters seamlessly.

Creating and editing your superstars are not the only creation tools that have gained some new options.  Create an Arena for example allows you to choose from some templates including the stage, the size of the venue and type of crowd, be it from a modern look or a bit more retro from the “Attitude Era”. The options are quite intense and I highly suggest you take the time to learn them to make these arenas your own.  You can even take them online (for the first time nonetheless!) to show off your creation skills.

Two more creation tools are Story Design and the ability to make Custom Championships, which I like to call your WWE GM tools.  This is where you get to create your own WWE storylines and create your own cut scenes, which have been amazingly expanded with over 300 scenes to give players quite a few options in creating their story.  Along with making the storylines you can create your own titles for superstars to vie for or take a current championship and edit it to how you want it to fit in your WWE career which can include naming the championship from a set of names.  All of these custom titles can be used in your WWE Universe as well, which is nice after the work you put into creating the titles.

Overall, the creation portion of the game has once again expanded immensely and has built on the already great suite of tools available.  Not only does the title look great, your customizations look amazing as well and fit right into the main portions of the game without causing any visual compromises that will distract fans.

Although there have been some great improvements there are still some visual issues that seem to crop up in every WWE title I play.  Little bugs such as the characters not moving normally are still noticeable.  For example, in one match Hunter Hearst Helmsley was standing outside of the ring and then slid across the floor over to a far corner instead of walking.  Another disappointing visual element was with the audience and the referee that do not seem to ever change from match to match with every fan always in the same spot and the ref always being some blonde guy (except for special guest referee matches). In the end this doesn’t take away from the visuals but if other games can put some great details in their backgrounds while keeping a high quality visual experience in the core gameplay it makes me wonder why it can’t happen in WWE.

As for the sound, imagine yourself in a true arena watching a live WWE show and this is what you will hear in the game.  From the first few seconds when a superstar’s theme music fills an arena and the crowd erupts into a frenzy for a fan favourite or breaks out into enthusiastic boos usually reserved for the villains or heels, you’ll find it here.  This game is also a great history lesson and you get the chance to hear some of the original entrance music for Superstars that started off as different characters.  Triple H’s career began when he wrestled as Hunter Hearst Helmsley and he had a completely different entrance.  The music ultimately sets the stage for the superstars and the game does well to keep everything in line with the show.

Throughout the rest of the game though you don’t hear a whole lot more music, but you do hear a lot of talking from the ring announcers.  The voice work in the game sounded fantastic and really authentic.  The announcers do a good job of describing the action, but after extended gameplay you may notice the repetitiveness of the commentary.  There is also a lot of voice work from the WWE superstars especially during the story telling of the game.

There are oodles of sound effects in this game, everything from wrestler on wrestler contact, steel chair or steel step on wrestler contact, and the roar of the crowd just to name a few things.  Much like the graphics of the crowd it was nice to hear the crowd react verbally to the action in the ring getting excited and rowdy when some great action was taking place.  All in all, the sound department in WWE ‘13 truly adds to the authentic WWE experience.

WWE ‘13 takes you on a fantastic ride through their legendary history, giving you an experience that is more polished than the previous installments in the series, right down to the graphics, music, sound effects, as well as expanded gameplay options.  I especially love the fact that there are so many options in modifying the game to exactly how you might want it, and I really enjoyed playing through the “Attitude Era”.  Although not quite perfect, WWE ‘13 is probably the best in the franchise that I have played to date and I can’t wait to see what lies in store for future iterations.

The Good


The Bad