Thursday, 8 November 2012

Review: WWE '13 (PS3)


Missed a day but better late than never.

WWE the biggest and arguably the most popular wrestling program in the world is no stranger to the video game market.  Ever since I were a nipper WWE have been pumping out games with out of date rosters and ropey graphics.  That was until WWE '12 the previous year which really revolutionised  the genre.  Which makes me scratch my head as to the slogan for WWE '13 "live the revolution" which sounds great and all but there is very little to call revolutionary about this game.

That last statement sounds pretty negative which is unfair really for this game which despite it's tag line is still a good buy for the die hard WWE fan.

Classic matches from the attitude era abound
One thing WWE '13 does right is it's new take on the usual story mode which instead of using storylines written for the game or just going for a roguelike style of older titles, this title focuses entirely on the best era of the World Wrestling Federation as it was then called, the Attitude era.  Starting with the rise of D-generation X from the original team of Michael's and Hunter Hearst Helmsley right through the take no prisoners rampage of Stone Cold Steve Austin, culminating in the final showdown between The Rock and Austin as Wrestlemania.

Every match in the 40 or so fights you will participate in has a straightforward pin or submit victory condition, but it's the optional historical objectives that urge you to play the fights exactly how they went down on the show.  Doing so will unlock new wrestlers for all modes, attires, arena's for creation mode and the odd little in game video recreation of the events as they happened.  Some missions may end up feeling like a complete bastard to finish, but generally they all run fairly easily.

The main meat of the game for singleplayer and local multiplayer is WWE Universe which allows you to run a fantasy league as you add created wrestlers, downloadable content and your own pay per views as you steer the careers of the WWE roster the way you decide.  Of course you can be completely hands off and allow the system to generate feuds, create tag teams, break alliances and change popular faces to reviled heels.  The sheer flexibility of Universe is what gives it longevity and the new tweaks that have been added such as the ability to make certain superstars inactive instead is a massive bonus compared to last years offering.

For those who wished they could relive in your house 95 now you can
Other modes include King of the ring, Creation mode which covers both wrestlers and arena's along with newly added pay per views.  Online allows you to download created characters but now also allows you to preview creations so you don't have to worry about getting a decent character model but crap moveset.

WWE '13 brings back all of the combat controls and nuances from WWE '12 which again makes me wonder what was counted as a revolution here.  Grapples can be modified depending on what type of grapple you apply.  Holding a trigger will allow you to target specific body parts for more focused damage.  Again flexibility is key here as every character has several unique moves outside of their personal signature and finisher versions.  One welcome addition is the weight detection system which changes the moves used by smaller wrestlers against super heavyweights like The Big Show.  You still get odd scenes of say Grandmaster Sexay powerbombing Rikishi but that's because his signature move is a sitout powerbomb.

Better targeting has been added so when you swing a punch it will track a target and have a better chance of hitting, where as previous games would have your character trying to punch thin air.  One the more superfluous additions is the OMG moments of the game.  These events can be activated when you have finishers stored and allow you to break the ring with a superplex, break the ringside barrier or slam someone through the announce table.  Sure these are epic looking moves, but they don't end the match in DQ, knock out your opponent or end the match in a WWE style which is a shame since the games strive to be as close to the TV show as possible.
King of the ring is a minor addition to be honest

The game is more of a refinement of the great updates from WWE '12 expanding on the slew of combat updates and creation modes added in last years iteration.  It isn't free of issues though.  The crowd's are ridiculously loud, so loud in fact they drown out the entrance music and ring announcer most of the time.  There is no way to set the crowds volume so you will have to deal with this.  The AI although not brilliant for singleplayer can swing wildly between pathetically easy to super reversal machines.  Fighting Vader who constantly reverses your running strikes, grapples and ground strikes becomes more frustrating than fun.  Of course you can modify the AI reversal settings in the options but really it shouldn't need that much tweaking to begin with.

The graphics haven't moved forward that much since WWE '12.  Characters looks pretty detailed although some models don't quite look like the character they are meant to portray, such as Hunter Hearst Helmsley who looks more like a Half Orc than Paul Levesque.  The crowd still look like low poly dolls running the same two or three animations whenever the camera focuses on them.  Overall though there has been a minor upgrade in the visuals all round but it's nothing so significant that you would call it an overhaul.

It's a shame the engine is used to recreate the attitude era and not footage
Aside from the near deafening crowd volume the sound work is generally good.  The repetitive sound bites from Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and Jim Ross (In the attitude era mode) become tedious with longer playthroughs, but to be fair the voice work is probably the one area WWE games will never really improve due to technical limits.  Sound effects are sometimes great as big slams have the correct oomph, although sometimes they make hardly any noise so it can inconsistent and drags you out of the experience at times.

Overall WWE '13 is a fun game just like WWE '12, it has great mechanics, is as close to running WWE as you are going to get and the new attitude era mode really improves over the tired road to wrestlemania mode of past titles.  It isn't perfect by any means but it's fun for you and some friends to spend an hour or two on.  The hardcore WWE fan will love it, while wrestling fans in general will find something to while away the hours.

SCORE: 7.8/10


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