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 TheHBK

Flyin' Brian Pillman is in this??? SOLD!

Posted by Gordo789

@Winternet said:

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

I did the exact same thing and all it found was your comment. HOW CAN I MAKE A BUYING DECISION BASED ON THIS REVIEW!?!?

Posted by JerichoBlyth

I knew this was going to be great! :-D Getting my copy in the post tomorrow - woot, woot!

Posted by laserbolts

God dammit now I have to buy this game.

Posted by jimmyfenix

STONE COLD!! STONE COLD!! STONE COLD!!!!

Online
Posted by Ravelle

Does this have a demo? I have not played a wrestling game since Smackdown 2.

Posted by Skooky

You could be from the future and you still wouldn't have saw this score coming.

Posted by bkbroiler

If I ever were to buy a wrestling game, a single player mode like this would surely get me to do it. Replaying actual matches with video thrown in sounds pretty sweet!

Posted by MHumphreys89

How did Alex manage to complete this review with New York having no power what so-ever?

Posted by m0rdr3d

@TurboMan said:

@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...

Thanks so much for that info, seriously. I didn't know that and it'll probably mean I'm taking the plunge this year. I just hope the Create-A-Wrestler lets me make all the guys they've missed.

Posted by Oldirtybearon

@iceman228433 said:

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.

there haven`t been any dropped connections or server lag for the last six or seven months. That was an issue they fixed a few months into WWE12`s life.

@m0rdr3d said:

@TurboMan said:

@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...

Thanks so much for that info, seriously. I didn't know that and it'll probably mean I'm taking the plunge this year. I just hope the Create-A-Wrestler lets me make all the guys they've missed.

Ahahahahahaha, you have absolutely now idea how deep and in-depth the Create features are in these games. You`re going to shit bricks, son.

Posted by illmatic19

Good to see Yukes taking a step in the right direction. I'll be picking this up. My first wrestling game since 2007.

Also, that box art is pretty cool.

Posted by Undeadpool

@Oldirtybearon said:

@iceman228433 said:

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.

there haven`t been any dropped connections or server lag for the last six or seven months. That was an issue they fixed a few months into WWE12`s life.

@m0rdr3d said:

@TurboMan said:

@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...

Thanks so much for that info, seriously. I didn't know that and it'll probably mean I'm taking the plunge this year. I just hope the Create-A-Wrestler lets me make all the guys they've missed.

Ahahahahahaha, you have absolutely now idea how deep and in-depth the Create features are in these games. You`re going to shit bricks, son.

The Create-a-Wrestler stuff has basically ALWAYS had sort of "winking, nudging" parts to create wrestlers from other organizations. The Shark Boy stuff is some of my favorite to behold year to year on Youtube.

Posted by MAJID

This is the first time in years that anyone has mentioned/thought of Steve Blackman. I wonder if he still calls himself The Lethal Weapon.

Posted by MikkaQ

I only just got WWE 12, but since it was used I don't get any user created content or online play. I'm thinking I might grab this for some Attitude era fun, and just to see the ridiculous CAWs people make.

Posted by TurboMan

@MAJID said:

This is the first time in years that anyone has mentioned/thought of Steve Blackman. I wonder if he still calls himself The Lethal Weapon.

In today's wrestling fans mindset, Steve Blackman is a relic of the past. He might as well be on the same mythological level as Chuck Norris. Everybody seems to have fond memories of Steve Blackman, but we have no evidence of whether or not he ever actually existed. See: 1:50 in this video

Posted by TurboMan

@Undeadpool said:

@Oldirtybearon said:

@iceman228433 said:

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.

there haven`t been any dropped connections or server lag for the last six or seven months. That was an issue they fixed a few months into WWE12`s life.

@m0rdr3d said:

@TurboMan said:

@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...

Thanks so much for that info, seriously. I didn't know that and it'll probably mean I'm taking the plunge this year. I just hope the Create-A-Wrestler lets me make all the guys they've missed.

Ahahahahahaha, you have absolutely now idea how deep and in-depth the Create features are in these games. You`re going to shit bricks, son.

The Create-a-Wrestler stuff has basically ALWAYS had sort of "winking, nudging" parts to create wrestlers from other organizations. The Shark Boy stuff is some of my favorite to behold year to year on Youtube.

Yup, they always seem to cater to wrestling fans of all companies with CAW related stuff... I mean, they added the BRAINBUSTAAAAH this year

Posted by MjHealy

Great to see that they pulled a good one out of the hat this year.

As a wrestling fan, I have to say they are really aiming for the early years of the Attitude Era with this. Being a younger fan, my best memories clock in at very late '99 and into 2000 - when Stone Cold was marginalized and Triple H ascended to the top. Anyhow, looking forward to picking this up at some point.

Posted by oljunebug

@jimmyfenix said:

STONE COLD!! STONE COLD!! STONE COLD!!!!

I know you are some what making fun, but when I started the Stone Cold Story and he came running in to the Royal Rumble and JR started yelling that I grinned from ear to ear.

Posted by TadThuggish

i like the rock because he licks vaginas lol

Edited by Xbox420

FEED.

ME.

MORE.

DLC.

Posted by Wakka

Great review, Alex.

Posted by LoktarOgar
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.
 
Suddenly I feel so sad for Alex that Jeff "stole" All Stars from him last year, leaving Alex to deal with the bad games.
Online
Posted by MightyDuck

I haven't played a wrestling game since WWF No Mercy. I also haven't watched an episode of Raw or Smackdown since 99, 2000 so maybe this will be worth checking out.

Posted by ShaggE

... Am I actually thinking about buying a wrestling game post-N64? Did I wake up in an alternate reality?

Posted by Homeslice

CM Punk has the Midas touch. Ditto Paul Heyman.

Posted by Starks94

I'm hoping this sells like gangbusters because that would mean we are one step closer to an obvious Monday Night Wars videogame

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I sure hope this comes up later this week in Target's B2G1 free sale. Assassin's Creed III did, so fingers crossed.

Moderator
Posted by Skullking

Steve Blackman not being in the game kinda ruins it for me :(

Posted by geirr

Accouterments is a terrible word!

That said, I almost want to play this since last I vaguely cared about Wrestling was through the 90s.. but eh.

Posted by MachoFantastico

Even though I haven't watched wrestling in donkey years, I like the idea of exploring the attitude era (where I suspect, most of us watched wrestling) but I'm surprised by the score, from what I've read/seen it seems like a small step-up from WWE 12 which I enjoyed at times. That Attitude era mode sounds interesting, might pick this up when I can afford to.

Posted by Y2Ken

I remember seeing the roster that I was very happy to see so many classic wrestlers from years past, along with old-school versions of a bunch of current dudes.

Seems like THQ has realised current wrestling isn't up to the standard it was 10-20 years ago, and they're catering to that. Good on them. Perhaps I'll grab this when it's cheaper.

Posted by TheLark

looking forward to this getting it hopefully thursday if my pre-order comes early which usually happens with shopto! STONE COLD! Also, anyone know if there's gonna be a quick look of JR being killed by a car for an hour?

Posted by dropabombonit

So Alex is still alive. Good review

Posted by Shnippie

I'm looking forward to trying this.

Posted by CapnChaos

I used to watch wrastlin' all the time during the glory days. I think I must have grown up though.

Posted by omdata

+10 for knowing who Earl Hebner is!

Or is that -10? As Arino says (paraphrasing), "I'm a terrible adult."

Posted by Gradev

I'll wait for it to go cheap in the new year I think

Posted by AjayRaz

i'm glad that this turned out well. i won't be buying it, or at least not anytime soon because i've only really enjoyed these games when i played them with my friends, but it seems that they're not into it anymore. i still have fun playing these games by myself, but i never feel motivated to explore the majority of the game modes without anybody else to play with. i could not play a single online match in WWE 12 because it never worked. at least it works now, apparently but nothing really compares to playing locally with friends if the online modes in the previous games are any indication.

still, some of this stuff seems really cool. stuff like recreating the montreal screwjob seems like absolute madness, and i'd love to check it out before the next game shows up.

STONE COLD STONE COLD STONE COLD

Posted by Drebin_893

Great review! Also, glad you're alive!

Posted by TurboMan

@Skullking said:

Steve Blackman not being in the game kinda ruins it for me :(

There are plenty of perfect replica's of Steve Blackman made by users available to download from within the game.

Posted by jimbofletcher

i have 2 admit when i was watching wwf it was well better in like the 90s to the 2000s but now it is just so dier and terrible

Posted by psyguy411

Agreed, I'd love to see a quick look of this, for sure.

Posted by raidingkvatch

This is really great to hear. I've been out of wrestling for a while, but maybe a decent game will help pull me back in, or at least let me have some fun reliving when wrestling was fucking awesome.

Posted by RoamingDan

I've been watching WWE wrestling for a long time but the last game that I played was on the PS2... Will definitely try this one!!!

Edited by vinsanityv22

Ever since THQ started tapping the WWE in-house video edit teams for video packages (like for WWE All Stars' Fantasy Warfare mode), the stories in these games have gotten much, much better...

Oh and Alex: "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." -- have some perspective brother! Things were even MORE cartoonish back before the Attitude era. Again, look to All-Stars. Pitting guys like modern day CM Punk versus Macho Man Randy Savage... or the Ultimate Warrior? It's INSANE. I actually LOVE the contrast between the Superstars of today and the larger-than-life characters of yesterday. THQ Smashing them together has resulted in some really cool games.

*sniff* Rest in peace, All Stars. You were the best wrestling game of all time.

Posted by Mezmero

I was totally going to gloss over this WWE release like I have for the past few years but after reading this I might give it a shot. The attitude era was my bread a butter growing up and wrestling really hasn't been the same since. Please keep writing these wonderful reviews!

Edited by Alex

@vinsanityv22: I think the super cartoonish style of All-Stars made the stark difference less apparent. When you've got comically beefed up CM Punk in there against comically beefed up Steve Austin, it's not as apparent as when you look at them in a more (if not wholly) realistic environment. In this case, I see the current WWE guys, and I barely see characters, especially when compared directly to the Attitude roster.

Oh, and I loved All-Stars. Was super bummed when that studio shuttered.

Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam

I know exactly jack shit about wrestling. Can someone confirm to me that Alex didn't start having a stroke halfway through writing the third paragraph?

Online
Posted by MetalMoog

Maybe it's because I grew up in the 1980's but I always felt the 1980's and early 1990's WWF era was the best of the bunch. Once Hogan and The Warrior moved on and were replaced by Stone Cold and the Rock I lost interest in wrestling and moved on. I've always felt the earlier decade of wrestling was far superior, more creative and tasteful than anything the Attitude era brought.

  • 100 results
  • 1
  • 2