A bionic redneck’s dream
I’ve been a wrestling fan for most of my life. It started with watching Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant with my grandfather. Then IRS came along and tried to make Tatanka pay his taxes. However, for a short time period I admittedly fell out of wrestling fandom. But with a crazed man from Long Island being flung from the top of a demonic structure and the rise of a certain bionic redneck, I was sucked back in and rarely strayed since.
These iconic moments in WWE history were just some highlights of what is now known as ‘The Attitude Era’. Stone Cold Steve Austin, D-Generation X, The Brothers of Destruction, and many other iconic men and women of that time period would cement their legacies as well as establish WWE as the dominate wrestling brand as they overcame WCW’s mid-90s advantage in the Monday Night Wars. And now, WWE 13 is having us relive some of those great moments like never before.
With cover boy CM Punk possibly marking the creation of a new era himself after last year’s infamous pipe bomb promo, it was only fitting that WWE 13 gave fans a brand new mode this year to replace past years’ story modes by using actual storylines from 1997-2000 and having players re-enact some of the most iconic matches of Stone Cold, The Rock, Kane, Undertaker, Mankind, HHH, HBK, and more. Not only does this give younger wrestling fans an overdue education, but it gives those of us who grew up in the era the most legitimate stories we’ve seen from the franchise since WWE No Mercy. It doesn’t hurt that it cranks the nostalgia factor up to 11 either, of course.
There are numerous other improvements to this year’s iteration of the WWE franchise though in terms of both presentation and game play. No, unfortunately not all of the hit detection and in-ring glitches we’ve almost become accustomed to were worked out. But besides these occasionally troublesome setbacks (its hard to suplex someone when they are cemented in the middle of the announcers table), there are new outside the ring features like ‘OMG!’ moments where you can sacrifice a stored finisher to spear a foe through the barricade or with super-heavyweights like Big Show and Mark Henry, actually smash the ring with a superplex.
Something the WWE franchise is known for, its creation features, has also seen marked improvements as additional layers and items have been added to wrestlers, like an individual layer for kick-pads on your shins. You can also now customize the stage and Titantron in Create-an-Arena, and even make your own Championship belt if you’re really old school and want to introduce something like the old AWA belt back into the mix. Altogether, this is amazingly the deepest creation suite we’ve seen yet.
There has also been a lot of fine-tuning in terms of the game play. Due to many matches from last year’s game seemingly ending much too quickly, many wrestlers health bars have been extended to help add some length to every time you step into the ring. This can sometimes lead to the precarious position of needing to hit a pair of finishers before your foe is in a weak enough state to the get the pin, but it definitely adds the desired length to matches. The counter system has also been tweaked, giving a larger window of opportunity for you to the hit the counter button in order to reverse your buddy’s maneuver. This allows many of the matches to take on a more natural feel as now even the most green of wrestling gamers can turn the tides should they be taking on a counter-happy veteran.
The online modes have also seen some major shifts as bots are now allowed into online matches meaning players no longer have to wait for six players to actually show up to do Elimination Chamber matches or the like. You won’t get any online experience in terms of moving up levels for beating a bot, but if you just want to have a match with some friends online and there aren’t enough for the match, this is a nice quick fix.
All things told it’s hard not to say this is the best WWE game of this console generation. Sure, there are still a few glitches, and the camera transitions aren’t as smooth as they could be, but when you consider everything that has been crammed onto one disc with the ‘Attitude Era’ mode, new matches like ‘I Quit’ and the King of the Ring tournament, the still stellar WWE Universe mode, the bevy of new customization features and improvements, and the high quality most of these improvements have been made with, if you are a wrestling fan this game is simply a must have.
SUMMARY: The bevy of unlockables, still stellar WWE Universe mode, even deeper customization features, and the nostalgia driven Attitude Era mode makes this the best wrestling game of this generation.
- THE GOOD: Attitude Era mode hits every right note for long-time WWE fans
- THE BAD: Still some seemingly ever-present glitches and hit detection problems
- THE UGLY: That it isn’t an option to have Good Ol’ JR call ALL the matches
WWE 13 is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.