WWE '13 is a love note written to wrestling's golden days. Unfortunately, it was written with the wrong hand. Gameplay and controls are so frustrating, that at the end of the day I felt like I'd just had my head bounced against the mat.
- Attitude Era brings back the good old days
- The game is as pretty as ever
- Customization galore
- Incredibly clunky gameplay
- Often humorously bad animations
- Lack of tutorial or practice mode
WWE 13 Review:
Professional wrestling is staged. It looks staged. But it’s an enjoyable spectacle. However, this spectacle doesn’t translate to video games. Video games that look and feel fake are not fun to play…you wouldn’t play an FPS with finger guns. As such, WWE ’13 isn’t enjoyable. Unresponsive controls and clunky player interaction result in a wholly unrealistic feeling game, and while this is the nature of professional wrestling, it doesn’t belong in video games.
A real game with fake gameplay
So yeah, I get it, it’s hard to make a game about a sport in which guys fake punch each other. But I feel like Yuke’s didn’t even try. Fun and authenticity aside, it’s still frustrating to press buttons and not have your wrestler respond—or to have him miss entirely because the animations don’t synch up.
Not once while playing the game did I feel like I was in complete control of my wrestler, more often than not turning to button mashing to win matches. Though there’s clearly a system allowing for some sweet moves and combos, it’s not really utilized or communicated. Indeed, I was unable to find any tutorial or any place to practice moves and hone my skills. As a result, I was left with the few moves I could learn from the in-game instruction manual (amusingly referred to as the “tutorial”). Though I played the game last year, I was in desperate need of a refresher, and had nowhere to turn.
Defensive moves remain similarly lacking. A command will flash on the screen in the split-second you can actually reverse an opponent’s move, but if you miss that, buckle up. Sometimes missing this one ridiculously short command will give your opponent time to complete a 15 second combo while you simply sit back and watch. From a spectator’s perspective, this might seem great, but when actually playing the game, it’s insanely obnoxious. Perhaps the most frustrating part is the fact that all of these missteps existed in last year’s iteration, and almost nothing was done to correct them.
Some fine fan fare
Though I struggled with the gameplay, I cannot fault Yuke’s at all for their obvious respect for professional wrestling. From the fully faithful wrestler entrances to the signature moves, the game bleeds authenticity. This year’s incarnation replaces last year’s Road to Wrestlemania mode with the new Attitude Era mode which allowed me to play some of the seminal matches of the 90s and 2000s.
Storylines remained intact, and it was more than cool to play some of the matches I remember watching as a kid. I found myself able to look past questionable gameplay, but also found new frustrations. In Attitude Era, you must meet certain requirements in order to win a match and advance. Unfortunately, sometimes these requirements are so specific, I found myself replaying the same match a half dozen times.
In one tag team match, I was required to strike the Undertaker with a chair inside the ring after getting his damage to a certain level. However, I had to make sure to use the right wrestler, make sure Undertaker was tagged in and make sure I didn’t hit the ref. After a twenty-minute match, I had everything lined up to knock out the Undertaker with a chair, the referee stepped in the way to stop me and I smashed his brains into next week. I appreciated the ref’s AI acting natural and realistic, but I really didn’t appreciate having to restart the entire match. In this case, the setup of the match failed, not the gameplay itself.
The rest of last year’s changes remain, including Universe Mode which allows you to customize just about anything, from the look of your arena to the setup of the roster. Universe Mode has a few token additions that add some deeper customization options, but again, the main thing that will excite fans is Attitude Era. Beyond that, it’s about the same game as last year with only minor tweaks.
Too many blows to the head
WWE ’13 has all the potential to be great. Varied game modes, a slew of classic wrestlers to choose from and an unheard of commitment to historical accuracy all form the foundation for what should be an excellent wrestling game. Unfortunately, the gameplay is so weak and the entire game suffers for it. Thus, what should have been a gorgeous and robust title devolves into a mess of button mashing and frustration. If you like wrestling as much as I do, you can probably get past it, but it won’t be easy.