WWE:13 is a game about men in tight lycra, hugging and sweating whilst a commentator layers over the action with lines like “tossing him off” and “going at it hard” (real in-game dialogue). The identikit fans in the audience produce banners from their seemingly limitless pockets, animatedly cheering along to the pantomime violence. I would call it an aesthetically pleasing, balletic display of choreographed violence; except it isn’t.
The game’s main chunk of action lies in the Attitude era, story mode. In this mode you play through the storylines of yesteryear, living through some of the finest moments from some of the most popular superstar’s careers. In this mode you have bonus objectives: like performing a jumping attack from the top rope, or hitting your opponent with a chair; basically things that happened in the actual fights when they were aired.
The bonus objectives are a nice addition, adding a layer of thought to the pretty basic combat. The problem is, it feels more than a little ironic, as the game seems stuck in the past along with its storyline. Last time I played a WWE title was about eight years ago, and it seems that the series hasn’t really gone anywhere since, other than a few changes to the control scheme.
The controls are pretty basic: one face button for strikes, one to grapple, one to irish whip etc. Holding down the grapple button performs a submission, during which you have to batter all your face buttons, which nearly broke my pad. One shoulder button makes the character run, another causes you to climb in and out of the ring or pick up weapons, and another performs a reversal. The timing window for a reversal is slight, but rhythmic taps will see you through the majority of encounters.
One thing that fans of the series will love is the amount of content packed onto the disc, as there are countless match types to sweat through. There are all the modes you expect from a wrestling game and on top of that there is a hugely comprehensive create mode, where not only can you create the gimp-like wrestler of your dreams/nightmares, but you can create whole stories to play through: controlling every aspect including creating rivalries, match types and even camera angles. There really is a lot of potential with this mode, and with the ability to share your creation/abomination online, there is a limitless pool to dip into.
It’s a shame then that so many things let the game down. The animations in particular are a stilted mess and the characters seemingly have no weight and skate around the ring like Michael Jackson doing a front moonwalk. When you are out of range and are throwing strikes, instead of closing the small distance your character will just wail into the air, punching phantoms whilst your opponent most likely does the same; which looks absolutely ridiculous.
When you perform an Irish Whip it only throws your opponent in the desired direction about 50% of the time. If you whip your opponent at just the right angle into the ropes they will run crab-like, really slowly, until they reach the corner where they will slump as if hit with monumental heft. You can set a table up in the middle of the ring (tables and other weapons don’t cast any shadows either) just for your opponent to walk into it with another weapon, and it will magically fold up as if intimidated by this new object.
When you swing the weapons, the force is comparable to someone underarm bowling a slice of own-brand bacon at your head, and the wrestlers drop as if hit by a nuclear warhead. When you are knocked down by an underwater-like strike, you will eventually have to escape from a pin. The pin is handled with more grace than a submission, and to escape you hold a face button, which raises a bar that you must release inside of a sweet-spot. This is much preferable to the moronic exercise of smashing your pad into oblivion, it’s a shame they couldn’t think of something more elegant for the submissions, as you look like a nutcase rubbing your pad ferociously.
For fans of wrestling, and even those wanting to relive its animal-charity-baiting glory days, there is a lot to like in terms of content. Just don’t come into the game expecting a deep or polished experience as there were better technological displays last generation. If the first paragraph of this review angered you and a little vein popped out of your forehead, the game is probably a must-buy just for sheer content alone. If the first paragraph made you chuckle and you are a games fan but not necessarily a wrestling one, you may have fun with friends but don’t expect to enjoy the games singleplayer, which asks its audience to know each specific wrestlers signature moves.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Wealth of content for fans.
Last-gen graphics, character clipping, no weight to the combat/characters, unfriendly to series newcomers.