Giant Bomb Review

100 Comments

WWE '13 Review

4
  • X360
  • PS3

By looking backward, WWE '13 pushes this franchise forward in a shockingly positive way.

Professional wrestling in 2012 is largely terrible. Granted, I say this as someone who experienced wrestling's most recent "glory days," namely the period between 1996 and the early 2000s when the (then) WWF and WCW were locked in an embittered battle over who could produce the most entertaining Monday night multihour block of guys in tights pretending to angry hug one another. In WWE terms, this was the "Attitude Era," the period when stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and D-Generation X captured the imaginations of wrestling fans anew, and made "sports entertainment" a legitimate billion dollar business. I look at what wrestling was then, and compare it against what wrestling is now, and objectively, I feel that I can say that wrestling just ain't what it used to be.

WWE '13 pays homage to the glory days of the WWE, while also improving its many modern accouterments.

And yet, sometimes I forget that many younger wrestling fans either were too young, or simply not around during these times. All they know is the modern wrestling era. They know that people like The Rock and Mick Foley are big time guys from a bygone era, but outside of some DVDs and recaps, it's likely they've never had the experience of seeing this stuff in detail. This is one of the many things that makes WWE '13 such a surprising delight. The producers at THQ have dedicated this year's wrestling video game to the Attitude of yesteryear, building a whole story mode around the history of superstars like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Stone Cold, The Rock, and many more. Even more amazing is that it's actually great. In improving a variety of things introduced for the first time in WWE '12, WWE '13 is by far the most playable WWE video game in ages. That playability helps elevate WWE '13's Attitude Era leanings into something more than just a nifty history lesson. In fact, it's probably the best storytelling a WWE video game has featured in as far back as I can remember.

Sure, it helps that THQ is straight up lifting great stories and matches from the Attitude Era, but in WWE '13, it's more about the way they're presented that makes the whole thing work so well. Each section of the Attitude Era mode is broken out by superstar(s). DX, Stone Cold, The Rock, the Brothers of Destruction, and Mankind all have their own chapter sections, which lead into a culmination in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania XV. Each match you play represents a significant historical moment for that superstar. Remember when Hunter Hearst Helmsley first teamed up with Shawn Michaels on RAW in 1997 to form DX? Or how about the debut of Kane at Badd Blood that same year? Even if you don't, the story mode does a great job of setting up each match and related storyline with both text and video footage edited together by the WWE's own in-house video team. It's simultaneously educational and entertaining stuff.

The matches themselves are fun too, thanks in no small part to the ditching of last year's idiotic "press button to win" story mode finishes. Instead, this year's game introduces historical objectives both optional and mandatory. Most times, the mandatory ones simply involve winning a match a certain way, but other objectives can be far more specific. In the legendary Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Mankind, you are set up ahead of time to relive that match's most brutal moments. You will throw Mankind off the top of that cage, through the announce table, and down to the ring. In very specific moments where the original match featured scenarios not playable in the game engine, the game will cut away to a pre-rendered scene, but it's all done in-engine, and is surprisingly seamless. If anything, I was surprised by how much the game asked me to do. It's one thing to play the infamous "Montreal Screwjob" match between Michaels and Hart, and it's quite another to actually be able to put Hart in the Sharpshooter, and have a digitized Vince McMahon run out and preemptively call for the bell. Honestly, the only thing missing was Earl Hebner.

While the OMG! moments have kind of a stupid name, they're unquestionably awesome.

All the arenas, fonts, and other related aesthetics are here, along with a couple dozen Attitude era superstars, from the big guys, all the way down to more minor players like X-Pac, The Godfather, and the British Bulldog. It's not all-encompassing, as certain era-relevant superstars like the Hardy Boyz, the Dudley Boys, Al Snow, Hardcore Holly, and Steve Blackman aren't around. And I do wish THQ had found a way to clear roster spots currently held by era-specific versions of superstars already in the game--honestly, does anyone really need one version of Triple H, let alone three?--but beyond that, the roster is hard to argue with.

Of course, nearly all the current WWE superstars are on-hand as well. The most interesting thing to me about having the dual rosters is how striking the difference is between them. Looking at the Attitude era, you've got these insane, cartoonish personalities that evoke their larger-than-life personas. And while I love current guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Cody Rhodes, it's incredibly telling that the modern roster essentially blends into a blur of random dudes when held against the Attitude era roster. That's hardly THQ's fault, but it is something I found myself noticing more and more as I played.

And while paid DLC is not something I often take pleasure in mentioning, I have to say that this is the first year THQ has ever actually had me excited about DLC in a wrestling game. The main roster itself is actually shockingly up-to-date, given how often these games seem to be a year behind the actual on-TV product. But there are some recent additions--like Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro, AJ Lee, and Ryback--that are missing. They are currently scheduled to be released as DLC, along with a host of classic Attitude Era favorites like Val Venis, Rikishi, Gangrel, and even the Loose Cannon Brian Pillman. It seems like THQ has finally figured out how to effectively keep up with TV wrestling, and that's pretty awesome.

For as great as all these bells and whistles are, none of it would matter if the in-ring action were no good. Last year's WWE '12 put this series on a positive gameplay path for the first time in ages. Despite some rickety parts, it played surprisingly well. WWE '13 builds on the ideas laid down last year and refines them. The core grappling and striking systems are the same, but the pacing, reversal timing, and overall "feel" of the matches is pretty great. Little additions, like OMG! moments (where, with a stored finisher, you can do things like knock an opponent through the guard rail, or collapse the ring when superplexing one of the game's larger wrestlers), and being able to reverse attacks into finishers (much as Randy Orton tends to do with the RKO), are a big plus. Momentum swings and big time comebacks inherent to professional wrestling are well represented here, and the in-game animations have continued to improve. Stiffness and wonkiness with wrestlers not connecting properly has definitely been lessened, though it's not gone altogether. You'll still see some weird physics glitches once in a while, and I still think the grappling engine is a bit over-reliant on reversals, but by and large, playing WWE '13 is actually quite enjoyable.

It helps that the developers finally figured out a way to drastically improve the in-match presentation. Is commentary still kind of a mess? In spots, yes, though during the Attitude Era mode, you're at least transported back in time courtesy of commentary from good ol' Jim Ross and The King. In fact, some of the story matches feature commentary audio from the original matches, which is a nice touch. Even better than those changes, however, are the changes made to crowd noise. Undoubtedly, wrestling is always better when set against the backdrop of a hot crowd. Seeing people go apeshit over a Stone Cold Stunner or People's Elbow is arguably half of what made the Attitude Era so fun to watch. THQ has addressed this in kind, ramping up the crowd audio to a fevered, ravenous pitch when matches begin swinging the hero's way. It's not always the most natural progression--sometimes the audio goes from crazy to dead quiet out of nowhere--and occasionally crowd noise will drown out Attitude Era commentary bits. But when it works correctly, matches have never felt more energetic.

It doesn't matter if your wrestling preferences skew old or new: WWE '13 has a little something for everyone.

This leads us to the remaining chunks of content in WWE '13, namely the holdover stuff from years past. Universe mode is much as it's always been, albeit with a few more tweaks in its randomly generated storylines to give players more control over what happens show-to-show. I still think it's better to use the story editor to create your own storylines, especially given the sheer volume of available story tweaks available. The usual create-a-wrestler/entrance/move-set/finisher/arena/logo/highlight reel modes are all still around, as well as a highly limited create-a-title mode. All this stuff is as good as it's ever been, of course. It'd be nice if next year we got some fixes for some of the lingering jankiness in the create modes, but even with occasional hiccups, it's hard to hate what's on offer here.

The last remaining elephant in the room would be WWE '13's online servers. While matches were playable last year, lag kept popping up in weird intervals, and for long periods of time, the servers simply refused to connect matches, or let players download user-created content. This year, those issues largely seem gone. I've been able to download content without any hassle, and the matches I've tried to connect to have worked nine times out of 10. We'll see if the servers hold up under the weight of a full player base, but right now, everything appears good to go.

While it might sound counter-intuitive for a game to look to the past to move forward, that's precisely what WWE '13 does. It's not so much about the roster as it is about the reverence it pays to the Attitude Era throughout its various modes and features. WWE '13 remembers when wrestling, and by proxy, wrestling video games were great. It remembers the pageantry, the silliness, and the death-defying stunts that made wrestling such a hot commodity a decade ago. Modern fans will still get the wrestlers and features they've grown accustomed to, while also getting a taste of what wrestling's past brought to the table. Nostalgists will have close to a dozen hours worth of matches and stories from one of the WWE's greatest eras to play through. It's been a long time since I've been able to earnestly recommend a wrestling game to just about any type of fan, but WWE '13 is most definitely worth such a recommendation.

Alex Navarro on Google+
100 Comments
  • 100 results
  • 1
  • 2
Posted by cbk486

No achievement for you.

Posted by Animasta

break it down!

Posted by Mystyr_E

I missed the old days of wrestling: Million Dollar Man, the Undertaker/Kane feud, Bret Hart, the Rock when he was a bad guy who you loved like a good guy and not a Disney star....sigh

Posted by JStaunton

yay!

Posted by csl316

What does everybody want!???



(Head. The answer is head.)

Posted by Darthozzan

I have a feeling the wrestling fans of Giantbomb will really love this, but I wonder how good this will be for people who weren't around during that era..

Posted by Grimmy616

@csl316: What does everybody need?

(The answer is also head.)

Posted by Grissefar

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

Posted by forkboy

I'm going to buy this so I can play as Antonio "Claudio Castagnoli" Cesaro. Because I love seeing these guys I watched on DVD in front of 100 people in Reading, Pennsylvania suddenly competing in front of 20,000 people on Raw. It's just a shame Kassius Ohno isn't in it this year, because reuniting the Kings of Wrestling one of the finest tag teams in contemporary wrestling (not that there's any bloody competition) would have been glorious. I guess I can always stick to fantasy booking this things in TEW though, can't I?

Online
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Alex survived a hurricane to give us this review.

Posted by SuperSambo

@Grissefar said:

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

Ill take sports over Wow any day of the week.

Posted by Redhorn

No Dudley or Hardy Boyz? God dammit. Sale lost.

Edited by TurboMan

@Mystyr_E said:

I missed the old days of wrestling: Million Dollar Man, the Undertaker/Kane feud, Bret Hart, the Rock when he was a bad guy who you loved like a good guy and not a Disney star....sigh

Those people are still around... I would say most of the bad guys in the WWE are highly like-able for people that enjoy bad guys.

Posted by Daiphyer

Wow. Did not expect this at all.

Posted by thornie

@Grissefar said:

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

Really dude? Wrestling is not even a sport. It's entertainment. Tons of gamers love wrestling.

Posted by PosableActionFigure

@Nekrokreuz said:

No Dudley or Hardy Boyz? God dammit. Sale lost.

They're in TNA, that's why. (Well, Matt Hardy is off doing drugs somewhere).

Posted by DonChipotle

I unconditionally love the WWE games. Hearing this one is actually good? Fuck yeah.

Posted by Grissefar

@SuperSambo said:

@Grissefar said:

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

Ill take sports over Wow any day of the week.

I was also referring to the format, as I personally find a Quick Look much less dry than a written review. Not that Alex is any fun in Quick Looks, even if he could do them.

I don't play WoW either, man but I would love for a good Rorie + Ryan + Vinny Quick Look of it. That shit would probably be hilarious.

Posted by myslead

this will be the first WWE game I will purchase ever since Day of Recknoning 2.

that tells alot.

Posted by TurboMan

@Nekrokreuz: All of the Dudley Boyz and Jeff Hardy are now in contract with TNA. I'm sure WWE has the rights to all their names and likenesses, but I doubt they want TNA guys in their current game...

But with the Create-A-Wrestler, you can download exact models of them that other people have made. Also there's tons of youtube channels that creates music with crowd noises so you can put their themes into the game...

Posted by SuperSambo

@Grissefar: Meh, this was not on my radar at all, but now I may buy it.

It served a use for me.

Posted by SuperSambo

@Darthozzan said:

I have a feeling the wrestling fans of Giantbomb will really love this, but I wonder how good this will be for people who weren't around during that era..

Wrestling fans of any other era do not count as human.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

Suprising

Posted by Milkman

Oh fucking goddamnit, Alex. You're gonna make me play this game aren't you?

Online
Posted by Milkman
@Grissefar

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

What a completely idiotic comment.
Online
Posted by forkboy

@SuperSambo said:

@Darthozzan said:

I have a feeling the wrestling fans of Giantbomb will really love this, but I wonder how good this will be for people who weren't around during that era..

Wrestling fans of any other era do not count as human.

To be fair, the Attitude era really was hit & miss in a lot of things. Lest we forget the Big Bossman driving off with The Big Show's dads coffin for one example. And all the stuff around Corporate Ministry was kind of awful. My point merely being that time helps us to forget the awful silliness a lot more. Besides, I sort of prefer 80s NWA

I'd really get a kick out of a wrestling game being made featuring all the old British guys. Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Kendo Nagasaki, Robbie Brookside, Johnny Saint, Rollerball Rocco, Jim Breaks, etc, especially with the old British ruleset, of 5 3 minute rounds. Of course, I'd really just settle for a proper new Fire Pro game.

Online
Posted by Little_Socrates

@Grissefar said:

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

Wow, fuck. This the first time anyone ever typed something that made me want Giant Bomb to not hire Matt Rorie after a year of hoping they would. I'm speechless.

Posted by TurboMan
Posted by jakob187

The positive reviews coming out for this game are actually getting me kind of excited about a wrestling game for the first time since Here Comes the Pain!

Well, except for WWE All-Stars. That game was AWESOME!

Posted by beepmachine

I'm not going to play this, but hearing this is actually good is awesome. I watched wrestling like crazy as a kid with my grandfather so reading this brought back lots of memories. I kind of stopped around the time of triple H though, my memories are all Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, and Randy Savage. Looking at wrestling now is just sad; they lost their touch for wild characters.

Posted by Phatmac

Wow. A good wrestling game? I may actually have to get it.

Online
Posted by CptBedlam

A good wrestling game in this day and age? Is this real life?

Posted by Winternet

I made a quick search for "Triple H's hair" on this page and got zero results. This review is lacking, Mr. Navarro.

Posted by Robaota

I actually can't believe I'm going to buy this. What a silly world we live in.

Posted by Brandino

From what i played it's easily my favorite wrestling game of this generation and the best out of the "smackdown" series. Even better then HCTP/SYM.

Really fluid this time around but my biggest complaint aside from the usual clipping issues is the graphics, specifically the character models.. It's 2012 and we are still doing this airbrush look? TNA Impact may of been one of the worst wrestling games but they did one thing that no other wrestling game has managed to do since and that was create the best wrestling character models and i wish THQ would take notes.

Posted by buzz_killington

Apparently this joint is HOT. Will be copping. Review is not complete though, due to lack of mentioning whether Attitude Era The Rock's eyebrows are realistically modeled or not.

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

What does everybody love?


(Head. The answer is still Head)

Posted by Brandino

@Grissefar said:

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

Believe it or not some us play more then just FPS games and a lot of us love wrestling games.

This is a video game site that does video game reviews and guess what? This is a VIDEO GAME. Also it's "sports entertainment" God forbid GB reviews games outside of what YOU like. I don't like racing games or the slew of mediocre FPS games but you don't see me bitching about all those reviews.

Posted by Aronleon

Well WWE13 take my money I expect lots from you.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

I want a quick look of this game now.

Posted by radioactivez0r

Aside from All-Stars, which I consider an anomaly anyway, I'm not sure I've bought a wrestling game since No Mercy on N64, which is still the best one I ever played. I'm actually intrigued by this one, though.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

Shit. I guess I'll be picking this up sooner rather than later as I originally planned. TOO MANY GAMES.

Posted by iceman228433

Oh man they finally got it right I was just waiting to see if they fixed the dam servers and it sounds like they have so I am in. Great Review glad to see you enjoyed the game so much.

Posted by Rhagkall

I just love that second sentence of this review. Classic Alex!

Posted by phil87z

These games used to be my Madden but they didn't change much of anything year in and year out so i stopped buying them in 08 or 09. But have to say this whole Attitude Era stuff is really interesting me. I might pick it up for cheap. The reviews have all been pretty positive.

Posted by Luchen

This is one of the few reviews i've read from beggining to end and actually enjoyed reading and actually impacted my decission on a purchase of a game. Thanks a lot Alex.

Posted by GentlemanlyGentleman

Fantastic! I was worried I was going to hate myself for wanting to see the Attitude Era stuff. Thankfully, they pulled it off.

Online
Posted by GorillaMoPena

@Grissefar said:

Ugh, do we really need all these sports reviews? Think of the wonders Matt Rorie could do to Giant Bomb instead, with the WoW expansion and the Dark Souls DLC.

I know, it is really crazy some people want to read reviews of those games because they have interest in them.

Posted by DS23

Very happy to see Al Snow's classic intro repped in full here in the comments. First thing I did in Attitude on the PS1 was take Al to the world title unlocking Head as a playable character, and then taking the two of them to the tag titles, good times.

Posted by altairre

I wasn't going to buy this. Now I will but if I don't like it IT'S YOUR GODDAMN FAULT ALEX!

Online
  • 100 results
  • 1
  • 2