It can be challenging to generate a new entry into an annual title year after year, but when the subject matter is World Wrestling Entertainment, with its ever changing storylines and performers, that appears to take some of the difficulty out of the process. WWE ‘13 will feel comfortable to returning fans, but should also raise an eyebrow or two with a smattering of new innovations.
In some cases the introduction to a game can make or break the experience. THQ opens WWE ’13 with a monologue from cover Superstar, CM Punk. It is shot with a slightly dark and gritty undertone, complementing an aesthetic also reflected by the game’s cover.
This early hands-on presents four match variations including Normal mode, Extreme Rules, Hell in the Cell, and Special Referee. There will be more game modes available upon release, including classics such as Tag Matches and Royal Rumble. The controls for WWE ’13 use nearly all of the controller buttons, but the layout isn't too complicated. Button mashing is only required when attempting to break a submission hold. There are very welcome visual prompts when the opportunity to execute a signature or finishing move occurs.
In Extreme rules matches the action happens everywhere. The ring barricades are destructible, as is the announcers' table. Weapons are available from the crowd - they don’t disappear when broken but remain unusable - and the steel ring steps can disfigure opponents. The movement of the Superstars is the most fluid to date, and there were no visible clashes of bodies or environment.
It’s terrific to see that a match can emanate from various points around the globe. This really brings home the point that creative director Cory Ledesma made in a recent interview with Gameplanet: “We want to make sure fans across the world to feel like this is a game that they can play, and is accessible. We also want it to have a bit of every country’s flair in there”. To that end, Australian locations will be featured in WWE ’13.
Ledesma also claimed that the sound quality has improved, and this was evident in the code demonstrated. The crowd gets behind the referee’s count and are audibly disappointed when he doesn't make it to three. They roar when elaborate or signature moves are executed, or when the ring or its surrounds are destroyed.
Although there were only a limited number of WWE Superstars available for play, it was pleasing to see a thoroughly visible difference between the personas of current day Superstars and the way they appeared in the Attitude Era, not just a change of attire. Superstars reacted, both positively and negatively, just as fans can expect them to, and special attention has clearly been paid to their taunts. Classic entrance themes accompany Attitude Era stars, as do the visuals and lightings from the day. Edge and Christian also enter the arena through the crowd as they once did.
The final product will have many more features which weren’t available in this preview build, such as the ability to create a Superstar, Finishing Move, Entrance and Arena. These can be shared online as well.
With the improvements that have been made on last year’s release, combined with the re-visiting of the Attitude Era, WWE ‘13 doesn't appear to be just another wrestling game; it may prove to be a true nod, a thank-you to long-time members and fans of the WWE Universe.
WWE ’13 is set for release in Australia on the 1st of November 2012.