Gutteridge's WWE '13 video game review: "I hope you didn't set your hopes high"

Posted in: More Reviews, MUST-READ LISTING
Nov 17, 2012 - 02:05 PM

By Darren Gutteridge
"Revolution" was the buzz word for this year’s WWE video game effort. "Live the revolution" was the tagline, the theme song was about revolution, and Mr. Revolution himself CM Punk was the cover star. You would think that such talk would lead to a game unrecognizable from any other version in this franchise’s 12 year history.
I hope you didn’t set your hopes high. If anything, last years game, WWE 12, was more of an overhaul for the series than this one, as it changed most of the core mechanics and retooled several key elements of the game. This is more ‘stage two’ than a revolution, and even then, there are plenty of problems left over from last year.
Core Elements
Having said that, most of these problems are little things, so let’s concentrate on the big picture. Casual gamers will want to know if the game plays well, and is complimented with improved graphics, a good creation suite, and a compelling story mode. And the news, on the whole, is good. Game play is copied from last year, and the experience is a lot more streamlined than it has been. While still prone to the occasional glitch, moves hit cleanly, and the controls are quickly picked up but not overly simplified. Graphics, too, have been improved. While not a huge visual jump, the wrestler’s moves and facial expressions are a lot more realistic. As someone who has played every game since Smackdown 2 on PS1, I can notice the steady, if subtle, changes the series has made this year.
To review the creative features in full will be a waste of time, as they are identical to last year’s options. The create-a-wrestler, entrance and move set suites have been perfect for many years, but this is the area that could benefit most from an overhaul. Most of the hair styles, logos and entrance motions have been around for the past five years or more, with little new content added outside of moves and entrances for debuting wrestlers. What has been improved are the create-a-video options, which have been updated to allow a player wishing to invest the time in them the ability to craft video walls and effects laden entrance videos for their custom guys. I found the system long winded, but someone with more time would easily get more out of it.
The big selling point this year was the all new storyline mode, recapturing the Attitude Era. Last year’s story was awful, forcing a player to play as HHH, Sheamus and a created player in a drawn out, year spanning story. It sucked, and I gave up when forced to play as a made up guy of whom I had no control over how he acted. THQ has reacted to the criticisms by doing what WWE always does when stuck in a rut – go back to the Attitude Era. But instead of appearing desperate, it works wonders. The nostalgia of replaying some of the era’s biggest moments, playing as DX, Austin, Rock, The Brother of Destructions and Mankind, was awesome.

It works as a trip down memory lane, and as a history lesson for those unfamiliar. The storylines are explained in text form, and video highlight packages, and it’s hard not to get sucked in to the experience. The matches are also challenging, even for veterans like me, with additional objectives given to matches that you can choose to complete to unlock more content. It also saves the current roster from becoming over saturated, as you spend a good few hours away from them. I finished the campaign and dived straight into the exhibition mode to start gaining trophies with the guys I hadn’t used yet.
So overall, you would think I would whole heartedly recommend this game. I haven’t even touched on online, which I have already had more luck with than ’12, as that went its entire life without being fixed (I suffered constant drop outs when browsing online created content, so eventually gave up). But I have trouble saying ‘buy this now’ as it still has all the flaws last years game had.
I am not a fan of the WWE Universe mode. While not as intrusive as last year, it’s still uninspiring. The game is so random in it’s set up (The Miz vs Primo as the Mania main event?), and labored in it’s approach that anyone without a lot of time and patience to play it will never use it. The menu system isn’t always clear, and the tutorial is text based, making it essentially as useful as the instruction booklet.
Once or twice the game has crashed on me, and the commentary is still woeful. It’s problem is that it isn’t off the cuff and it’s completely random, sounding disjointed and downright weird at points. It’s a necessary part, but one that is always doomed to fail. The new crowd sounds have been tweaked to sound more natural, but the switching from opening match low noise to finishing cheers is usually bookended by sheer silence.
So I would tell you to wait until this game comes down in price. Outside of the small tweaks to the core elements, and the fantastic Attitude Era mode, the game feels like a slightly updated version of WWE ’12, so if you already have that, I’d suggest playing that some more, or rent a few of the Christmas releases, until this game is reduced and all of the DLC has come out. It’s still a solid wrestling sim, but it’s not the revolution it promised.

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