Xbox 360
4 stars
Amazon
54.99
In Stock. Buy Now»
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
4 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
3.5 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
3 Stars
Replay Factor
4 Stars

WWE 13

Street Date:
October 30th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
December 25th, 2012
Game Release Year:
2012
Platform:
Xbox 360
Publisher:
THQ
Developer:
Yukes
ESRB Rating:
T (Teen)

Introduction

Let me start out by saying, if you’ve played “WWE 12” and are looking for a marked advancement in modern wrestling game play, “WWE 13” is not your game. While the latest installment has a few enhancements over its predecessor in game play categories, a few surface enhancements and a few solid game play improvements, “WWE 13” is actually a step-back for strictly modern era fans. Instead, Yukes and THQ offer players a trip back in time, by scrapping a modern story mode for the Attitude Era Mode, a lengthy and satisfying re-exploration of the matches and moments that made the WWF a ratings juggernaut in the 1990s.

The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Sporting a sizable roster of not just modern stars, but equally as many Attitude Era stars, “WWE 13” provides fans with a story mode that will take several hours at minimum to complete, not to mention unlocking all the vintage content. Each chapter in the mode is broken up into specific themes such as “Austin 3:16,” “Mankind,” and “Wrestlemania XV.” Players relive key moments and matches through a combination of video packages, classic commentary over matches, and in-game challenges that have you recreating everything from the Undertaker tossing Mankind off the Hell in the Cell to Stone Cold Steve Austin mercilessly annihilating Vince McMahon in a steel cage at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (complete with a match ending appearance by Paul Wight).

Outside of the Attitude Era mode, gamers can make any match they desire in exhibition mode or hop over to WWE Universe mode, and create their own promotion, down to show names and logos (the user generated, downloadable content makes this a lot more fun that it sounds). Universe mode is almost too daunting in some areas and frustratingly light in others. It’s no substitute for a wrestling sim and having to play all the matches on a card to see storylines progress can be become tedious, but the openness of the approach is still appreciated.

I will comment that one advertised improvement, specifically the game engine’s improved homing feature, eliminates attacks at phantom opponents and iffy aerial maneuvers largely a thing of the past. One caveat, is the default setting of auto-targeting in multi-opponent matches. When the action is very close together, say in a Royal Rumble match, it’s best to have manual control over whom you’re targeting. By and large, the game play of the title is smooth and glitches, while noticeable when the arise are not as common in past titles.

“WWE 13” is going to appeal to the player who wants full customization options as made evident in the creation mode that lets you create everything from wrestlers, to moves, to belts, to logos. Those willing to invest the time and effort into such a mode, when combined with the create-a-story mode are the people who will help keep this game going for the masses. The ability to download quality, user-generated stories is a strong selling point and while a lot aren’t worth the time of day, the ones that are, give you value for the dollar and the best feel like they could have been first-party DLC. Ultimately, fans who couldn’t care less about the Attitude Era will feel slighted by this offering and understandably so, but on the flipside, lifelong fans have been asking for such an offering for years, and “WWE 13” finally answers the call.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Visually, “WWE 13” is eye-pleasing at times, but still quite a bit behind in terms of living up to the potential of this generation’s console hardware. The games absolutely capture the visual flair of a WWE event, most notably the rich color schemes. Nothing from this angle, could be said to look unrealistic and this applies to the creation mode, which sports some truly amazing old-school (and new-school) creations by players.

The actual detail level in the game is a different story; yes, this game looks better than offerings from a few years ago, but compared to “WWE 12” the actual improvement factor is negligible. There’s just something lacking from giving the character models a more realistic “pop” off the screen and while equally an improvement, background elements still feel a bit flat at points. At the end of the day, I suspect things aren’t graphically A+ to ensure any hiccups resulting in what would be game breaking, slowdown occur, but still, the WWE games, seem just a step behind the industry standard.

The biggest graphical offense committed by the game though, comes from the animations. While, 90% of the game is fluidly animated, a small portion of that 10% that doesn’t look quite right is downright frustrating. Characters will float around ropes instead of resting on them; rarely, a character will “teleport” slightly when engaged in a boundary area. Some moves look great until it’s time for the character models to “sell” the impact, which robs the game of the required sense of realism. Moves that should result in some notable, but subdued writing, often are instead animated in broad moments of theatrics. It’s a real shame “WWE 13” wasn’t able to fix these elements fully, as some are still lingering complaints from the days of the PSX.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Sadly, the audio on this game should have been a slam-dunk, but alas, “WWE 13” is rife with a multitude of audio follies, that ultimately tally up to a near embarrassing quantity. The commentary in any sports game is always a dicey factor and as usual, it’s still a bit stilted in this offering. The transitions between canned lines aren’t always smooth and once in a while, a new line starts too quickly. To make matters worse, the Attitude Era story mode pulls archival audio from actual telecasts and the difference between real commentary and computer-generated commentary is glaringly obvious. Even then, the censoring of a few words (notably WWF), turns right around and reminds players this is all history and they shouldn’t get too invested in what they’re playing.

The biggest downfall of the game is a poor sound mix, which could have been entirely fixed by providing more audio sliders in the settings menu. Too often, cutscene dialogue is drowned out by excessive crowd noise or music, and I found myself constantly fiddling with the volume to try and hear what was going on at times. This problem ends up being almost exclusively noticeable in the Attitude Era mode, but even in standard exhibition matches, the balance between elements is not solid.

Replay Factor

To be succinct, the replay factor all boils down to personal preference. Sadly, the Attitude Era mode has little replay factor do to its length and highly scripted nature. The online community is always an option, but with less than stellar connection performance, I can’t recommend the game for someone who wants to do most of their gaming online. The community created content however can be amazing and using such stuff in the create-a-story mode (as well as downloading others’) could definitely see this game getting quite a few hours of playtime.

Final Thoughts

“WWE 13” is not the best wrestling game ever made, but possibly the best of this generation of consoles. It doesn’t pave new paths in terms of technological prowess and if you’re looking for something revolutionarily different over “WWE 12” in terms of A/V, this isn’t your best bet. What it does do, is offer a love letter to 90s-era wrestling fans by taking the bold step of using the requisite story mode in such titles to relive some of the biggest historical moments of the Attitude Era of wrestling. The giant roster of both veterans and current stars can make for some fun mash-ups and on the local multiplayer side, a gathering of true wrestling fans are going to have an absolute blast. With THQs future in doubt, no one knows what the future holds for WWE games, but right now, “WWE 13” is a good sign that with a bit more ingenuity, WWE games don’t have to follow the Madden style of improvement.

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p
  • 720p

Audio Formats

  • Dolby Digital 5.1

Motion Controls

  • No

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Amazon
54.99
In Stock. Buy Now»