In 2011, Yuke’s and THQ abandoned their very successful Smackdown vs. Raw franchise to form a new WWE series with their first game, WWE ’12. WWE ’12 went through its share of problems, especially with its online modes and left a lot of wrestling fans with a sour taste in their mouths. Can WWE ’13 recapture the audience or is this series dead in the water?
In 2000, I saw a commercial featuring The Rock for a new wrestling video game, that game was SmackDown! for the PlayStation. I went out later that night and bought it with the little money I had saved up. It was such a different wrestling experience with actual entrances and an incredibly deep story mode. nearly 13 years later, I’m here reviewing the latest game in that long-standing series, WWE ’13.
WWE ’13’s big hook this year is the Attitude Era mode that goes through the whole period between 1997 and 1999 that made numerous stars and helped WWE pull past WCW in the ratings for good. Sometimes you have to bring back the things that people loved and this is truly a case of that with nearly 100 different superstars, dozens of arenas and attires, and the return of a couple series favourites, the I Quit Match and King of the Ring.
Let’s start off with the Attitude Era mode. This is the mode that replaces the Road to Wrestlemania Mode that drew a lot of criticism in previous entries of the series. Reliving the Attitude Era was simply amazing and I really enjoyed going through with the many different Superstars that once graced WWE rings. The mode starts off with the Rise of DX and goes through to stories featuring The Rock, The Brothers of Destruction, Mankind, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. There is also an Off-Script storyline to follow that runs through various moments in the AE after you complete the main stories. These stories definitely stay true to life with certain objectives to complete to win the match but, the objectives never feel too difficult to achieve and never take away from the match. If anything, they add another layer of fun to a mode that could have easily become mundane.
Throughout the Attitude Era mode, you’ll unlock different Superstars, championships, attires, and arenas to use in the game’s different game modes. The one criticism I have about the AE mode is that it doesn’t go past 1999. Anybody who watched WWE during that times knows that 2000 and 2001 were big years for WWE and it would have been nice to see the mode extend into those years. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of content and they do have some Superstars that came later in that time period such as Lita, Trish Stratus, and Chris Jericho circa 1999. The other things that I don’t really understand is why they didn’t include more attires for Superstars that went through big changes at the time. Triple H has three different character slots and yet not one is his attire from when he became a huge star in 1999. Undertaker has two separate slots and is missing the many phases that his character went through such as his American Bad Ass gimmick. This sounds like a petty thing but, the attire is what makes the Superstar in most cases and when you’re trying to relive an era, it’s hard to get taken back when they look completely different than what you remember.
Yuke’s really did a good job trying to get things right with the era even with so many Superstars that were huge during that time unable to appear in the game such as Kurt Angle, The Hardys, and the Dudleys. Superstars who only have one attire had their colours changed to match the attire their missing respective to the timeline which was a nice touch. People that were missing due from the game were either strategically replaced or left out altogether (like Chyna). There were some nice videos to introduce you to the different points in time you were reliving as well as an extensive photo gallery taking you through the entire time period. AE itself lasts anywhere from 8-15 hours depending on what you’re looking to unlock and what difficulty you’re playing on and is definitely an interesting take on career mode in WWE games. I personally wouldn’t mind expanding upon this game each year and deliver a storyline on great moments in company history but, I doubt we’ll see something like this again as amazing as it was.
The other big improvement is WWE Universe 3.0 which honestly left me a little bit underwhelmed. The mode itself is a wonderful mode and the one I play through the most. It allows you to control almost every aspect of your WWE roster to create one massive schedule. There’s a lot more to control this year with an additional two matches added to each weekly show choosing whether it’s a minor or major show and placing whoever you’d like on the roster. There are a few things that bother me though. You can’t have a regular show on Sunday. I wanted a show on Sunday and was only given the choice to make a PPV. I don’t want that. You can’t make a PPV on any other day than Sunday. What about something like Taboo Tuesday? You also can’t have two shows on one day. No Nitro/Raw war on Monday nights, it’s not possible. It’s also impossible to have more than 4 titles on one show and one must be a Divas title, Tag-Team, Major, and Minor. Reliving the Raw and Smackdown of 1999 would be impossible because you can’t use all of the title at once, you can only choose 2 out of the three minor titles that WWE had to offer at the time (Hardcore, Intercontinental, European) at one time. I’d also like to be able to institute the 24/7 Hardcore rule and just be thrown into a match if I’m the Hardcore champion. Make it true to life!
WWE Universe is a solid mode and adding all the statistics and different logos for the vintage shows and stuff makes it even more fun but, I really wish there were more matchup screens to match the show that I’m creating. I also wish I could cost someone the title or interfere in a tag-team match but, you can’t. Superstars are even limited to one faction as far as I could tell. It all sums up to the fact that if this is YOUR mode, why can’t you do things completely YOUR way. Again this is a solid mode as is and it is a lot of fun, but there wasn’t much added on.
Create-an Arena was revamped and is spectacular. You can make the old ECW arena to the Smackdown Fist arena to pretty much anything you want. There are a bunch of templates that you can tweak whichever way you please to create the arena you want. There are notable outdoor arenas based off of Wrestlemania IX and Tribute to the Troops as well. You can customize every aspect this year, not just the ring and it translates to some very nice arenas. Create a Superstar remains largely the same besides the introduction of kickpads a few other minor additions. The characters still look like last-gen characters and are generally fairly disappointing, this is something Yuke’s has left the same since probably the mid-2000s and is simply unacceptable coming up to the next generation.
King of the Ring and the I Quit match make their returns and are solid additions to a very robust match lineup. I have to hand it to Yuke’s the match types and gameplay in WWE ’13 are second to none. There are matches for everyone to enjoy and the new King of the Ring would be great to run through with friends. The gameplay has been pretty much perfected. I haven’t had many problems with collision detection and the reversals are amazing, I’ve been caught out of the air and slammed to the mat while performing and aerial move. That’s crazy! It’s a lot of fun to reverse move after move with the computer looking for the upper hand and coming to a stand-still. I truly think this is one of the better games for pure wrestling that I’ve seen. OMG moments were added in but, were more novelty than anything and I really didn’t like using them as a type of finisher by pressing triangle. They should be random.
Online modes that were very problematic last year (I couldn’t get on Community Creations until August of this year!) don’t seem to have the same problems and there are plenty of great creations to download. You can find anything you can think of on there and make the game you want from the characters, logos, and arenas that you can download. The online matches are pretty much the same, I wish Yuke’s would introduce regional online championships to give online some meaning. It’s never been something I’ve cared to explore because there’s not much point, no point to progress.
Cutting to the chase, the gameplay in WWE ’13 is second to none, Attitude Era mode is a fresh take on a career mode, Universe Mode hasn’t received any massive upgrades, and the Superstar list is MASSIVE. WWE ’13 is a step-forward for the franchise, albeit a small one. If Yuke’s can revamp the Create a Superstar mode, give the user more freedom in Universe mode, they’ll have a real winner but, this one falls a tiny bit short. Regardless, any WWE fan should get this game, it’s an extremely fun nostalgic journey through the best years of this storied company to today and every fan would do well to play through it.