It’s All About the Attitude: WWE ’13 Review

Yuke’s and THQ released last week the latest game from the WWE video game franchise, WWE ‘13. After playing with my own copy of the game for a good 12-14 hours, I realized that the one word that can describe the game has got to be attitude. From the WWE’s top villain, WWE Champion CM Punk being on the cover, to “The Baddest Man on the Planet” Mike Tyson being a playable character, to the entire Attitude Era game mode, WWE ‘13 is all about attitude.

What’s New

The Attitude Era takes the spotlight in this year’s game and takes the place of the Road to Wrestlemania game mode. While this year’s game effectively took the story/season mode out of the equation, older fans — or even younger fans who like to be called wrestling historians, like your faithful scribe — will find that the Attitude Era mode will give you more than your dose of wrestling history.

The Attitude Era mode features the Monday Night Wars from the WWF’s point of view, and takes off from 1997, from when the WWF was lagging behind WCW in the ratings. This game mode allows you to use up to 35 characters from the Attitude Era, unlocking each of them as you move from the different chapters of the Attitude Era. Throughout the game mode, you get to play as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane, The Undertaker and all three faces of Mick Foley.

The Attitude Era also features 20 video packages from the WWE’s archives, which detail the history behind some of the greatest feuds of the late 1990s, including the Austin-McMahon rivalry, the Undertaker’s relationship with his half-brother, Kane, and the Austin-Rock feud. Fans of “Good Ol’ J.R.” Jim Ross can enjoy his commentary exclusively in this game mode as he recreates his classic banter with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler. Several of the cut scenes also feature recorded audio packages from the WWE archives with the animated Attitude Era characters giving life to the scene.

Another new feature is the “OMG! Moment”, which allows players to incorporate the surroundings into the match itself. With enough momentum for a signature move, or a stored finisher, players can set their opponents up for any of several “OMG! Moments”, including collapsing the ring (think Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar from 2003, or the more recent Big Show vs. Mark Henry from Vengeance last year), breaking the barricade, executing finishers in mid-air or simply not having to exert a lot of effort into breaking the announce table. Sadly, they still haven’t incorporated the Spanish announce table into the game. Maybe next year, guys.

This year’s roster features the largest one yet for a WWE game, including 35 of the biggest stars from the Attitude Era. One major drawback is that several roster spots in the game are used for various incarnations of certain WWE superstars. Triple H, for example, has three incarnations of himself in the game — Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Attitude Era Triple H and the current Triple H. So does Mick Foley, as you can play as any of the Three Faces of Foley (Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack). The Rock and Chris Jericho have two roster spots each, one for their Attitude Era personas and one for their current look/gimmick. Even John Cena has another roster spot aside from his current gimmick as his Doctor of Thuganomics character is also in the game, despite it having debuted in 2002, after the Attitude Era had subsided.

What’s Back

Long-time players of WWE video games would know very well the difference between the current franchise and the now-defunct Smackdown Vs. RAW franchise. What the current franchise may lack in story mode, it compensates for several times over through smoother and more efficient gameplay. The Predator Technology from last year’s game returns this year, with an updated engine, which fixed certain problems from last year that resulted in animation that would totally look absurd in today’s WWE. Add to that the simpler controls that they introduced last year, which streamline the gameplay in ways that pretty much render button-mashing useless.

The gameplay is tighter and more free-flowing compared to last year, particularly with the new reversal system, which is much easier to use given the prompt that appears when the opponent’s move can already be reversed. This allows players to properly time their reversals in order to break their opponent’s barrage of moves, without having to resort to button-mashing and not knowing how or where they screwed up. The weight detection system in the game is much more refined, similar to the Smackdown vs. RAW games from several years ago. What this means is that the game prevents cruiserweights like Sin Cara or Rey Mysterio from picking up super heavyweights like Kane or The Undertaker, which totally makes sense.

The Creative Suite is back as well, which allows users to create pretty much anything and everything in the game from superstars and divas to arenas, movesets, finishers, championship belts, logos, and even shows. You can customize the ring environment to however you see fit and even choose between having audiences from the PG era or from the Attitude Era. How can you tell? The PG Era audience members wear the shirts of today’s superstars while the Attitude Era audience members wear the shirts of D-Generation X, The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin.

The WWE Universe mode makes its return, too, and this year, Paul Heyman got involved with improving this game mode, which will definitely appeal to more sophisticated wrestling fans. Unlike last year’s WWE Universe mode, you can take the existing shows out entirely and create your own shows and move them around to hold them any day of the week! You can also incorporate your created stadiums and championships into the game mode. The statistics about each show’s respective championships were retained, and this time, there are records that keep track of the championship reigns and their length. To sweeten the deal for us Broskis, they even included Zack Ryder’s Internet Championship in the game, and you can designate it as any show’s minor singles championship, too!

One of my biggest issues with last year’s WWE Universe mode was how random the storylines seemed to be in terms of who ended up feuding with whom, and the direction their respective feuds headed, if there were any at all. That changes this year, presumably through Paul Heyman’s involvement with the design of the storylines. This time around, players can choose which direction they want certain storylines to play out, all depending on their actions during the matches or the cut scenes after matches. While tag teams were formed and severed on their own last year, this year, the player gets to call those shots for himself, which makes it among 200 different storylines that can unfold throughout the WWE Universe game mode. The best part is that you can reset the WWE Universe if you feel that the game mode has gone out of control, which could very well be one of the biggest improvements of the game.

The High Spots

  1. The Attitude Era
  2. Smoother reversal system
  3. An improved WWE Universe mode with Paul Heyman designing the storylines
  4. OMG! Moments
  5. The Internet Championship is playable now!

The Low Blows

  1. Up-and-comers AJ Lee, Ryback, Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow as DLC (downloadable content)
  2. No Tyson Kidd in the game. (What about his high-flying tag team with Justin Gabriel?!)
  3. Multiple roster spots used on a superstar’s different gimmicks. Come on, we know how big a part of WWE Trips has been over the years, but his current gimmick and his Hunter Hearst Helmsley/DX gimmick would have been enough. Three was too much.
  4. No story mode (but the Attitude Era game mode totally makes up for it)

Overall, WWE ‘13 was definitely worth the wait (and the sleepless nights from playing it). If you’re a wrestling nerd, which I know you are, or else you wouldn’t be reading this! I’m giving this 4 out of 5 Happy Grams! Enjoy the game, nerds! Take care, and spike your hair!