Hands on with WWE ’13

Last week we got the opportunity to attend an exclusive THQ event in London to get hands on with the new WWE ’13… and here’s what we made of this year’s iteration of WWE’s flagship video game.

The graphics and some of the new character models in WWE ’13 look really great, a good job has been done on some of the new guys like Jinder Mahal and John Lauranaitis. Brodus Clay’s entrance is awesome, and it was fun to see some of the old attitude attires such as the brown Mankind and classic Shawn Michaels & Triple H. Contrary to some online rumours, attitude superstars are editable in superstar threads (which is much the same as usual – just the ability to edit colours). Whether or not the changes appear in Attitude Mode scenes though I’m not sure as we did not get around to trying.
It was a month before release and some of the current era superstars looked slightly dated already such as CM Punk wearing his white Best In The World T-Shirt, The Miz and Wade Barrett having their old looks, etc, so this may bug a little but is always an expected thing as it’s hard for the new games to keep fully up to date with the ever changing world of the WWE, and that’s nothing that a combination of CAW mode, superstar threads and DLC can’t fix. Some of the alt attire options we saw were nice, such as Daniel Bryan’s red pattern on white attire and Cena’s camo shorts, and there seems to be plenty more to unlock. The strangest looking model we saw during the review period that stuck out to me was Beth Phoenix who did not really look like her at all, but we rarely play with divas and it seems like most of the ones on there, Beth included, are either leaving or have left WWE or aren’t currently active anyway!

Other notable improvements to general gameplay include small touches to environment objects such as the laptop on the announcer’s table will move around etc, OMG moments are cool allowing you to break the corner barricade (sadly still can’t walk into the crowd), do a stunner through the announce table or break the ring!
One feature we found really really cool was the ability to bash Y / Triangle when your opponent dives off the top rope to catch them and use your finisher, making it possible to grab by the throat and chokeslam with Big Show, or catch and do the AA with Cena, RKO with Orton, etc. This is going to make top rope moves more high risk if your opponent has a finisher and is something I can’t see us getting bored of doing!
It was also nice to see superstars have real world stats on the menus such as the number of times they’ve held a title and number of Royal Rumble eliminations etc. It would be nice if it automatically kept these up to date but there is an editor so you can alter them yourself.

The addition of a blue steel cage option is nice for attitude era matches, but in hell in a cell while the door does seem to be back as rumoured, it’s not very visible from the normal camera angle and we could not find any way to open it.
The new I Quit match is a lot of fun – taunting your opponent to make their mini-game bar shake while they try to stop the marker in the right place to prevent their character giving up can get quite intense!
Other special match types include the 10, 20, 30 or 40 man royal rumble, championship scramble, backstage brawl, and the new special referee match where if you interfere too much John Lauranaitis will come out and replace you, so be careful! Giving the special referee a referee attire or shirt would have been a nice touch especially for characters who are renowned for it e.g. Shawn Michaels, but it’s fun nonetheless. In King of the Ring you can choose from a 4, 8 or 16 tournament size and plenty of match types and it’s great to have this back. The KOTR arena is nice too.

The gameplay is generally pretty smooth although we did notice a few minor animation glitches while playing and the occasional stuck animation that takes a moment to correct itself. The worst case was in a tag match where if you tried to interact with the ropes after being irish whipped your superstar might just keep trying to run indefinitely while the rest of the match action simply stops. The only way out of that was pause and restart match. The AI seems about the same as last year, generally not bad although can still be a little unrealistic at times like when Sheamus stood right next to me and did nothing while I pinned his tag partner!

Attitude mode is a lot of fun, running you through a series of storylines starting off with the rise of DX which begins with the Shawn Michaels vs Mankind match – here you’re given some fun objectives & bonus objectives such as to hit Mankind with a chair and then win by pinfall, but while still getting free roam to play out the whole match. Later on there are more objectives, time limited objectives and hidden objectives. There’s a timeline combined with a WCW vs WWE ratings graph shown in between events which is a great touch. This is a mode we’re really looking forward to playing through in full and reliving some more classic moments.

Universe mode looks about the same as last year on first glance, but has a few very welcome feature changes. Although you must have a Sunday PPV, you can now schedule shows on any day of week, so it’s entirely possible to have RAW Monday, NXT Tuesday, Smackdown Friday, Superstars, etc. There’s also the option to reset universe, and to switch on or off universe stories, non-PPV stories, team forming/disbanding stories, crowd reaction changing stories and injury stories.

CAW mode is as expected and we didn’t notice a great deal of new parts worth noting, with things like tights, patterns, paints etc matching those in WWE ’12. Although more items is always nice and there are a few, we do feel that it’s already possible to make some great CAWs, and the advantage of it being so similar is that they will remain to be fairly easily portable from the previous game. Abilities are in again and also the same, and we noticed a cool new system for distributing hit points to the head, body arms and legs to give your superstar his own unique strengths.

In move-sets, WWE ’13 offers the choice of a finisher and an alternate finisher, with great new additions including things like the new Santino cobra, the ah funk it, triple rolling suplex, tilt-a-whirl slam and the return of the stink face! This year’s selection of preset movesets is about as good as the last while providing little in the way of surprises. One pretty cool addition was the addition of some new comebacks such as Big Show, Sheamus, and a generic one which looked like John Morrison. We hope there will be even more to unlock with DLC. There are also some other good new moves added such as in rope grapples where there are new options like Mark Henry’s Avalanche.

Create a move looks largely the same but with a few nice additions such as new DX taunt or Undertaker taunt which can be used to start a move.
There’s nothing groundbreaking in the already good create an entrance mode either, but some of the new title & multi title entrance options such as Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Del Rio and Stone Cold are cool. Creating a movie is still horribly slow to render so requires some patience!

The much anticipated return of create a belt was somewhat hidden away in an RB / R1 menu in ‘My WWE’. It’s a nice addition to have and a very welcome return, but ultimately it will leave a lot of people who were hyped for it rather disappointed due to the very limited options it gives… You basically choose from one of 33 base belt types (most of which we did not see as you need to unlock them) and then you can change the belt colour and the plate colour. That is it… but at least it’s there and I bet we can expect this feature to get fleshed out more next year. For now this at least gives you the option to rename your belt and you can select up to 5 words that will be used by the announcer for your championship, so there will sure be some fun to be had with that when creating your own universe. The inclusion of the Internet Championship in this game was welcome, we also saw someone unlock the Rated R Spinner belt, and we’re looking forward to seeing what others can be unlocked later this month.

In create a story it was great to see the addition of some classic attitude era moments such as the APA playing cards at their table or the brothers of destruction doing their double chokeslam. The mechanics are the same as in WWE ’12 and these should be fun to play around with.

There is a good selection of arenas in the game, the attitude ones in particular have a great classic feel to them and were a lot of fun to play in. It would have been nice if the Wrestlemania XXVIII one was actually outdoors but other than that there is not much to complain about here. We’re going to have a lot of fun with create an arena this year which gives a good selection of 20 base arenas that you can then customise to your heart’s content – e.g. you can change the number of stage rings on the classic Smackdown arena and even set the colour of each ring, turn the steel frame object on or off and change the frame type, plus select from 5 crowd sizes ranging from a really small crowd that could be used to make the new NXT arena or other wrestling promotions’ arenas, right up to a Wrestlemania size crowd. Then there is ramp colour, stage colour and stage panel which all allow you to use logos and patterns if you want to. All the things I wanted to do but couldn’t last year seem to be in here.
The 20 arenas available in create mode are: Royal Rumble 98, Raw is War 97, Survivor Series 97, One Night Only 97, Survivor Series 98, Judgment Day 98, Summerslam 98, King of the Ring 98, Over The Edge 98, Rock Bottom 98, St Valentines Day Massacre 99, Wrestlemania XV, Smackdown Attitude Era, Raw 02, Raw 06, Smackdown 06, Summerslam 04, Judgment Day 04, plus 2 generic ones.

All in all we’re pretty hyped for this release now and looking forward to unlocking everything else that we haven’t had the chance to try yet. Having now played WWE ’13, WWE ’12 will be firmly relegated to the shelf!

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