Bringing the attitude back

For as long as there have been video games, there have been sports games. The biggest issue with sports games has always been how to change a game enough within a year that it feels fresh and new, but still similar enough that players are familiar with it. While wrestling may not always be considered a sport in the same sense that Soccer or Golf are, Wrestling games have had to deal with the same issues that titles like FIFA have to tackle. So how do you make a wrestling game more interesting?

The key change in WWE ’13 is the shift of focus to WWE’s Attitude Era. The Attitude Era is a period of time between the late 90’s and early 2000’s when many fans consider the company to have been shaped into what it is today. The gaming technology of the late 90’s wasn’t really ideal for recreating the action and story of the live events though, so Yukes have decided to use WWE ’13 to attempt to recreate the highlights of the Era as closely as possible.

The Attitude Era mode of the game will let you participate in the highlights of the era as it works its way through what is essentially a chronological highlight reel of the era. There are bonus objectives to encourage you to recreate major events of each match and play them closer to the real-life event. These objectives are what make the Attitude Era mode so refreshing. Rather than just spamming attacks. Hitting your finisher and going for the pin 20 times over to clear the story mode, you’re encouraged to try out all sorts of different scenarios and these objectives often highlight the new features of the game.

The inclusion of the Attitude Era mode essentially replaces previous games’ Road To Wrestlemania mode, which sadly means there isn’t really any story or career to be played with the newer generation of superstars. You can still use them as you make your way through the calendar year in WWE Universe mode, but if you want heated storylines and feuds, you’ll need to use your imagination.

If using your imagination is your thing though, there’s plenty of stuff for you to work with. The Create-A-Wrestler feature is back, as is the ability to create Rings, Entrances, Storylines, Move-Sets, Special Moves and Logos. All of the Create-A-Modes have been built with plenty of options and details, so if there’s anything or anyone you feel is missing from the game, you’ll be able to add them in yourself.

As for changes to the rest of the game, there’s pretty much everything you’d expect to be there. The graphics have generally had a tune-up and characters look a bit nicer from the characters in WWE ’12. The soundtrack features all of the authentic music, and the commentary usually doesn’t feel too repetitive. The controls have received an overhaul, so each character now has their base set of moves, but you can also manually choose a body part of your opponent to target. This means that virtually every wrestler is a viable choice now, and you don’t have to avoid any wrestlers for their inability to perform submission moves, etc.

The last addition is the OMG! Moment. By putting your opponent in specific positions while you have a finisher, you can activate special moments that make the matches feel more cinematic. Want to tackle your opponent through the crowd control barrier and into the fans? You can do that now, although the players will return themselves to the ring area immediately. No wrestling amongst the fans this year.

WWE ’13 is strongly focused on the Attitude Era. If you want more modern action, you can still do most of the stuff you usually can, but don’t get your hopes up about an epic tale of rivalry between CM Punk and John Cena. That said, the Attitude Era is easily the highlight of the entire game and, in my opinion, one of the coolest story modes I’ve played in a wrestling game. There’s a lot of wrestling fans who love the era, and even if you don’t, you’ll probably still love this part of the game. If you’ve never been a fan of wrestling games, WWE ’13 probably isn’t going to change your mind, but for everyone else, this may just be the best WWE title to date.