Posted on October 29, 2012 AT 10:55am
After another lost weekend, the only way that I can explain playing a THQ-produced, Yukes-developed game is akin to the experience of fever delirium. For THQ’s UFC and WWE games, there is always a period right after the release where I find myself engrossed in them for a while, just trying to force my way through them and fun is never even on my mind, instead I’m thinking about trying to reach some unattainable goal. I’ll tell myself that this will be my stopping point, that when I get to that title match and win it, then I’ll stop and turn the game off, then the next thing I know it is hours later and I’m still grinding away at it. It is entirely a fruitless endeavor; nothing makes sense, upon reflection it isn’t always fun, and when you explain why you were doing what you were, no one else will be able to understand it.
Yet you keep playing. In a nutshell, that is the WWE ‘13 experience.
Additions to the matches, like picking between “quick,” “normal” and “epic” matches or like the “OMG! Moments” around the ring are an interesting and welcome addition. They’ve done a lot to try and make the matches themselves more fun to play, which is not a terrible thing by any stretch, but the AI still feels inherently broken from the start, even if you can go into the options and mess with the sliders to make reversals happen less so matches aren’t endless streams of reversals. The AI still has some weird hiccups like repeating moves on a loop or I had a match where Daniel Bryan got himself counted out because he kept picking up and throwing down a chair instead of returning to the ring.
The new Attitude Era Mode is the main “Story Mode” and provides a pretty great experience if you were a fan from that era. They heighten the experience by showing video packages, using real promos and letting you play through historical matches and giving you guidelines to not only complete the match, but unlock new characters and features. If you were not watching during that era, well, that is alright as well, because they walk you through each angle in a logical way and you can enjoy what was great programming and wrestling angles back then while also filling up your meters and hitting specials and finishers all over the place.
By definition, insanity or madness is repeating something when you know what the outcome will be, and that is how Universe Mode is. You will lose hours to it, but lose hours to trying to get something satisfying out of it and instead being confused, irritated and downright angry at what you should be able to do with it, but can’t. The fact that there is a Story Creation mode in the game and that it does not work with Universe Mode is illogical at best, as is the fact that you can edit your roster and simply give a wrestler a championship, but on a card you cannot set a Championship match, you have to play what they give you and like it. You can edit your basic matches with ease, but for contendership matches or title matches, you are out of luck. But hey, you can use a custom ring and arena this time around.
The Creation modes are a beast of their own, and will be a time vacuum to those inclined for such things. According to THQ, there are over 300 new moves in this game, but like with earlier titles, this means that they’ve removed ones not used by wrestlers in the game and that they’ve reanimated the same move about twenty times for each individual wrestler. This means you’ll have a ton of variations of the DDT, Neckbreaker and Backdrop Suplex, but won’t have basic moves like a Reverse DDT. The created characters still look a bit odd when in the ring with the default wrestlers, but what can you do?
You can do a lot in the Creation modes, which means stuff like the zany Story Creator that resembles XtraNormal but with wrestling matches and interviews. There are a bunch of new things in Story Creation mode, but like I said before, why this isn’t a part of Universe Mode is beyond me. You’ll lose hours to it and you won’t kick yourself over it, hopefully. You can also use the Special Move creator, which seems like fun but is incredibly limited, create arenas and rings and edit in-game Championships (not create any, sorry). A part of me would like to see these features streamlined a bit better, like why do I have to create a character, and then load them up again to do their moves? That features has been in WWE games for ages and has always been irritating.
The online features in a game are only as strong as the code and servers behind them, which for WWE ‘12 meant that the online was nearly unusable for a good portion of the period after it was released. Feature-wise, you can play ranked matches or create your own and have it in any style of match you wish. For many, this will be a sticking point as playing a TLC match with a group of friends is nothing short of ridiculously fun. I’m not so sure about the competitive aspects of this, because from my experience, it turns into a game of running grapples and race to get a finisher first. As for the other online features, the sharing aspects have become easier as you can preview before you commit to downloading a character or arena, and of course, you can share your creations as well.
Graphically, WWE ‘13 is about as good-looking of a game that you can expect from these games at this point, as they are not about to just scrap the entire thing and start fresh for this generation, which means deal with it. Character models are really starting to show their age and there are still a ton of weird clipping and camera issues that pop up here and there. I’ve found that moves that are supposed to knock an opponent out of the ring don’t work so well in multi-man matches, meaning they just pop right back into the ring and at times when you are pinning your opponent, parts of their head tend to disappear into the mat. I’ve also seen the rotating camera get stuck inside of a character model before, rendering a match unplayable, yet hilarious.
If you are somehow a fan of the music in the game, good for you, if not, play your own tunes or be prepared to go insane. The commentary works about as well as it ever will and has less awkward outbursts from Michael Cole where he just randomly says one of the characters’ names and pauses. The overall presentation, menus and load times are the best that I’ve ever seen from a THQ/Yukes game, a vast improvement over past titles in just about every way. Everything is intuitive and works without taking forever to load or navigate.
SUMMARY: WWE ‘13 isn’t breaking any new ground, and I’m not sure that it was supposed to. Outside of some minor gripes, the gameplay itself is incredibly fun and you’ll find yourself lost in the Creation Suite to recreate your favorite wrestlers and promotions of the past, or you’ll make all of your own stuff and create your own little world. Attitude Era Mode is a boatload of fun and nostalgia, while Universe Mode begs the question of why bother when a pen and some paper or a spreadsheet can yield you better results of creating and running your own shows. There is a lot to do in the game and if you are a fan or ever were a fan, chances are that you’ll enjoy it. This isn’t a “revolution” as promised, but it is lots of fun.
- The Good: Attitude Era Mode is a ton of fun, improved gameplay mechanics, sliders and ability to choose “epic” matches adds a lot.
- The Bad: Universe Mode is a failure in many aspects as it goes half-in on being a management mode and half-in on being a story mode. Pick one, stick with it and do it right.
- The Ugly: Non-caucasian created characters looking like they are in black face. Seriously.
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