Although up here in Scotland we just had the first Oran War event, hosting the best stars in Scottish wrestling for a one night only wrestling extravaganza the rest of the world still seems to be hooked up with the exploits of the WWE. Moving away from the Smackdown Vs Raw games, this is Yuke's second game in the new WWE series.
It's been a good few years since I have caught an episode of Smackdown, growing a little older and moving away from the long running soap opera, I was a little apprehensive if I would truly enjoy this game but rather than feel alienated by the new breed of superstars WWE13 has stuck the perfect chord for old timers like myself and current fans, sporting a huge roster of the new breed like Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler and John Cena alongside the old school favourites like Big Show and the Undertaker.
The basic idea of WWE13 is to generally beat the snot out of your opponent and win a match by either pinfall or submission. Across the many wrestling superstars available the controls are all generally the same and surprisingly basic considering the wealth of moves available. Moving around the ring with the right stick you can punch and grapple using the face buttons, with longer depressions creating more powerful punches or grabs which can then be used to create various moves depending on the position of your combatant and the direction of the control stick. Most of this works well but there is too much if a reliance on the counter moves, with a small "R2" appearing very briefly above your head, time it right and you will be able to pull off a reversal move, get it wrong, which will happen an awful lot and expect a beating. Long gone are the screen cluttering health and power bars, replaced now with a visual notification like your character clutching a damaged arm, limping around the ring or after some options tinkering, dripping blood all over the canvas. It's not all punching and grappling as of course each wrestler has their own signature moves that pretty much have to be incorporated into every fight, to carry out the show stopping special moves you need to gather momentum, get a good run of punches and slams and eventually a red F will appear under your character, keep this up and a button icon will appear, hit this at the right position of your enemy to then pull off your characters finisher. If on the other hand you are getting a beating you may get the chance of a comeback, with "comeback" appearing beneath your wrestler, set it off and then watch as your wrestler slaps the mat, jumps up like a man possessed and starts an unbelievable set of moves via a short quick time event (QTE).
Apart from their own specials and finaliser moves, to give the fighters a distinguishing style you have a group of abilities that are relevant to each specific wrestler like a mimic from HHH that copies the opponent's special move, launching over the ropes like The Undertaker or a very handy pin bar extender.
WWE13 is just jammed full if content, aside from the huge roster and a very flexible creation system that will allow you to create pretty much any person you can imagine (and create a few of the missing wrestlers) there is a wealth of game modes and ring rules to play through like One on One, Triple Threat, Fatal 4-way and the King of the Ring; each with their own selectable rules like Hell in a Cell, Last Man Standing, Steel Cage, Tornado Tag, TLC, Elimination Chamber, and of course Royal Rumble. Each rule and mode is really enjoyable, each giving a little something different to keep the fighting fresh with the only disappointment being the Royal Rumble, which allows only six fighters into the ring at a time.
For campaign modes you have the season spanning Universe mode, allowing you to take part in some huge storylines, interfere with matches, change Match Cards and even create your own Pay-Per-View shows, granting unrivaled access to the weekly battles these superstars go through. My personal favourite mode and one that kept me coming back for more is the Attitude mode, returning to an era in wrestling where both WCW Monday Nitro and Raw is War battled it out tooth and nail for the TV ratings and with the WWE revealing its newest and to date, greatest years, Attitude.
Returning to the mid 90's we are able to take part in some of the greatest moments in WWE history, with Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley and the formation of Degeneration-X, Stone Cold Steve Austin's battle to the top against all odds and the Rock's introduction to the fold. These are some spine tingling moments to play through here, with each match trying to recreate what happened between this new generation of wrestlers. The levels unlock progressively, with each completion unlocking not just more matches but even extra wrestlers, alternative costumes and arenas depending on how well you do in the Historical Bonus Objectives; these can be getting disqualified in a main event by using a chair in front of the referee to giving the Rock a Stone Cold Stunner and eliminating three opponents and eventually winning the Royal Rumble as Steve Austin, each match has slightly different objectives, adding a little more of a challenge to the action. I had goose bumps playing every one of these classic matches, bringing back many memories of the WWE's greatest era, so much has changed from back then, the biggest being the name, with any mention of Federation edited out of the sound mix or even funnier, blurred out like a swear word, given the same treatment as Stone Cold's middle fingered salute.
There is also a reasonable online mode that allows for ranked and unranked matches across most of the game rules but I found this a little unreliable for my liking with more than a few occasions where I had to hard reset the console due to the game locking up. Aside from fighting you can also share your wrestling creations like characters, original arenas and even your own story-lines with the rest of the world.
The presentation of WWE13 is just like the TV shows, big and loud; with constant commentary from ringside to every characters explosive entrance themes. Considering how many wrestlers there are, each one has been expertly rendered with their own characteristics, making them really stand up well against their real life counterparts, add to this a dynamic camera that makes quick cuts from the wide view to more up close and personal shots of the action and it is just like watching the shows. On the negative side there were more than a few glitches that I had to witness and overcome with pretty much each gaming session, with bodies overlapping and some real bad collision detection on certain moves to the more serious moments like getting stuck in a never-ending headlock that I had to quit the match or the earlier mentioned hard reset whilst online; its these moments that really jar you out of the experience and spoil all of the hard work put into this game.
WWE13 will please a huge age range of fans with its in depth Universe and Attitude modes combined with the extensive customisation tools on offer, this will be a favourite for a long time to come.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version tested: PS3)
A very impressive roster of fighters
Very deep customisation options
A few too many glitches
Very reliant on the reversal move