jason stives gets raw…
As some of the past Three Angry Nerds columns have shown I’m not the diehard devoted fan of professional wrestling that I once was. My full blown interest in the product petered out in 2007 and I have merely observed the industry from afar, checking in to see what each company (WWE, TNA) is doing with their product. While my thirst for broken tables and chairs has grown quiet, my love for the annual WWE video game from THQ has never ceased and I have always bought it even if certain installments haven’t offered much. Last year’s WWE ’12 revolutionized the game play for wrestling games and THQ promised an even bigger revolution for this year’s release. However, that revolution was actually a glimpse at the past as WWE 13’s biggest offering this year belongs to the new “Attitude Era” mode which is an ode to the past, specifically, the Monday Night Wars of the mid to late nineties.
The Attitude Era mode streamlines basically three years of important history in pro wrestling into six chapters seen through the eyes of the top stars of the time including Steve Austin, the Rock, the Undertaker, and Kane. Each chapter devotes enough time to allow the player to participate in all the big moments ranging from the Montreal Screw job to the infamous Hell in A Cell match that saw Mankind sail off the top via the Undertaker. That would be a very cut and narrow feature if it wasn’t for the plethora of achievements that can be unlocked. Each match has the same objective which is to win but if you really want to grab goodies like world titles, unlockable wrestlers, and matches you have to complete other goals within each match. Many of the objectives have to be beaten in order to advance so failing them only brings you back to the beginning. For example: the debut of Cactus Jack on Raw in late 1997 saw him face Triple H and while you can simply just beat Helmsley and pin him you can also slam him through a folding table to unlock Cactus Jack for in-game play. There are so many things to do here but if you are a determined person like me with too much time it can be beaten within at least four days (save for pee breaks, and you know, life).
All the best stars of this era are here and being able to revel in the nostalgia of hearing some of those classic entrance themes come through my television in game mode was just awesome. There is also some great montages that break up each chapter and serve as a great history lesson for new and old fans. So right there is the game’s most stunning feature because a lot of the modes and character models of the current roster and the WWE universe mode are the same as they were in WWE 12 save for some new wrestlers. This doesn’t make the game repetitive because universe mode has always been a great selling point allowing players to morph their own storyline and feuds as they please. The downside to the game play though comes in little ticks and glitches within the audio and visual elements. This game institutes a more live audience feel and while it feels like you are actually in the arena the sounds of the audience basically range from quiet to hysterical and don’t completely capture the constant energy of the audience. There is also once again the continuing story of the poor commentary track. While this year they lifted some archived commentary for Attitude mode this only lasts momentarily and you find yourself back at the same regurgitated audio between Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole.
Of course, WWE 13 ultimately becomes YOUR world on the creative end and many of the Create A- Modes showcase the flair and detail that they always do.
Create-A-Wrestler has been given some new tools to work with, mainly some quality wardrobe features and additional move sets, and once again you are provided the perfect tool to creating your own wrestler in your own vision. Another big feature is the improved Create-An-Arena mode which now allows you to provide the perfect lighting and set pieces for your arena. Personal favorites from this include the adjustment of crowd size which ranges from a large arena to a smaller convention center to even an outdoor venue a la Wrestle Mania IX. There are many great set pieces to choose from thanks in part to the plethora of arenas utilized from the Attitude Era matches and seeing the awesome skull shaped entrance from the 1998 Survivor Series: Deadly Games was really awesome against some of the detailed graphics. Speaking of graphics, there are still glitches to be had in the motion of the matches and sadly it shows greatly at times mainly in the shifting of camera angles.
I don’t think there is too much to be annoyed by with WWE 13 beyond the aforementioned audio and visual issues that at times bog down the game play and overall quality. If anything the center piece of the Attitude mode makes this a great one-off game despite the fact that you can’t do this again. When you consider how quickly you can go through this mode if you have the time it’s a bit of a let down with how quickly it passes by. Still, we are once again provided another entertaining addition to the THQ wrestling game club and while WWE 13 may not be the revolution that it’s advertising proclaimed to be its a great representation of professional wrestling past, present, and next year, hopefully future.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)