Year after year THQ releases a new WWE game and year after year fans have numerous complaints. Last week I was invited to a private press event for THQ’s latest game, WWE ‘13, a few week’s prior to its release date. The game was shown off in its final, retail form and to be honest, it isn’t good... it’s great!
The event started with WWE Games’ Creative Director Cory Ledesma giving us a 45 minute presentation of the game and its new features. The first thing we saw was the brand new, Attitude Era mode; this new single player campaign allows players to relive part of one of the greatest time periods in professional wrestling history. One of the biggest complaints about last year’s Road To Wrestlemania mode is that players would wrestle an entire match, then control would be taken away from the player and they would have to sit through a cutscene which in most cases would result in the player losing the match. Things are different this year.
In Attitude Era mode you have objectives you must complete such as simply winning the match or completing certain criteria during the match. Gone are the in depth complicated objectives in Road To Wrestlemania such as having to drag opponents to the stage or knocking them out in certain backstage areas of the arena. You are also given optional bonus objectives that involve recreating historic moments that occurred during the actual matches you are reliving. While these are optional, you can unlock cool bonuses for completing these objectives such new arenas, historic photos, alternate attires, and even wrestlers.
Since this mode has you reliving the past, the WWE editing crew has created over 20 new video packages for the mode and they are great. Setting the stage for matches and rivalries, these video packages will help give newer WWE fans an idea of why these wrestlers were engaged in combat back in the day. The mode will also include other goodies such as the “ratings time line” which will show you ratings for both Monday Night Raw and WCW Nitro during the Attitude Era and a collection of historic photos.
During the presentation we got to see a glimpse as the historic I Quit match between The Rock and Mankind from the 1999 Royal Rumble. Some of the optional objectives include giving Mankind a Rock Bottom through the announce table and throwing him off the stands into an electrical board below. While some of these iconic moments trigger cut scenes, they aren't long and actually add to the match. In WWE ‘12 they felt were intrusive but in WWE ‘13 they help add to the excitement of the match. Cory Ledesma also explained that their playthroughs of Attitude Era mode clocked in at around 12 hours and thats not including the “Off The Script” section of the game. The Off The Script section is where you can participate in matches and events that occurred during the Attitude Era but weren’t part of the main storylines of the game. We didn't get to see any of these in action but I did see Edge and Christian, Trish Stratus and Chris Jericho’s debut in the list of available matches that you can play.
Speaking of I Quit matches, we were also shown the I Quit match in the game. The match plays just like any other match but instead of pinning your opponent you press the “B” button to tell the referee to ask the opponent if he wants to quit. This brings up a mini game where the a white line that bounces back and forth in a box; you have to stop the white line in the red area to keep the match going. While you are waiting to see if your opponent quits you have the ability to “intimidate” your opponent which will cause the meter to shake, making it harder for your opponent to hit the meter in the box properly.
You can also use submission moves you get your opponent to quit and it works in the same manner. The match is fun but I found it took a LONG time to beat your opponent down to the point that they give up. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as there are people who enjoy long matches. The referee also walks around the ring with a mic in his pocket and puts it in the opponents face every time they are asked if they quit. It was very fun and i'm looking forward to playing more of this match type when the game is released.
We also got to see a quick run through of the King Of The Ring tournament mode as well. You can choose between 4,8 or 16 superstars or divas to have in your tournament as well as selecting the type of theme you want for the tournament. For example, you can have an all Hell In A Cell tournament if you wish. When you complete the tournament, you are even given a special coronation cut scene for the winner, which is a nice addition to the game.
There are many WWE gamers out there that buy these games and hardly ever play with WWE Superstars. They spend most of their time in the WWE creation suite creating their own wrestlers, arenas, moves and more. That trend is expected to continue this year and we got a brief glimpse at some additions to the creation options. In terms of Create A Wrestler, THQ brought back the ability to make your wrestler any color. In the past you were simply restricted to a number of skin tones but now they added the full color wheel so if you want to create a full blue, red or green skin toned wrestler, then go right ahead. A number of new parts were also added for created wrestlers including the ability to give wrestlers kick pads. In the past they simply looked painted onto a created wrestler’s boots but now you have the ability to add them to any wrestler as a separate piece of clothing. It’s a small touch that really makes your CAW look like they are an actual WWE Superstar. They have also added new scenes for the story creator mode which should make fans happy. We got to see some examples with the New Age Outlaws walking into APA’s office and initiating a fight and Santino Marella walking into the APA’s office for a conversation.
I know what you have been waiting for: everyone is interested in info on the changes to the games WWE Universe mode. I have good news, it has received a HUGE update. The past two iterations of WWE Universe were fun but there were problems that fans had been very vocal about. They wanted it to be “their” WWE Universe, they wanted their own shows, their own schedules, and their own wrestlers but this wasn’t possible due to restrictions the game placed on the mode. This all changes with WWE Universe 3.0. Want a show on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and / or Saturdays? Go ahead. Want to delete Raw, Smackdown, Superstars and PPV’s from the game? Go ahead. Want to create a show and PPV for every day of the week so you have a show every day of the year? Go ahead. It is truly your universe now!
You now have all the tools to create your ultimate wrestling fantasies. If you want an all Divas show, you can do it. If you want to put TNA or ROH shows in the game then go right ahead. The game mode is limited by only your own imagination. Last year’s mode added injuries and while it was great for realism purposes, fans were quickly annoyed when certain superstars would become injured and be taken out of action for an indefinite amount of time. Perhaps you were annoyed that your tag teams kept breaking up? No worries, just turn that option off. Finally If you just don’t like where your Universe is going then you have the ability to completely reset WWE Universe and start from scratch. Everything about this mode feels updated and easier to navigate.
Another complaint of the past was that your shows would have a small amount of matches on the card. I think it was four for Raw and Smackdown and six for PPV’s. Regardless, fans will be happy to know that they have bumped the number of matches you can have on a show. I saw five to six for Raw and Smackdown and seven for Pay Per Views. Of course what makes WWE Universe so much fun is that your superstars will take part in storylines just like on WWE television. This year over 200 new stories were added to the mode and were written by the creative Rabbi himself, Mr. Paul Heyman. That’s right, Paul Heyman wrote the storylines for WWE Universe!
Also new to the Universe storylines this year is the ability for the stories to take different paths based on decisions you make in the game. One instance I saw was whether or not I wanted to shake my opponents hand after the match, do nothing or play a heel and knock his lights out. If I had to guess, I was only able to see about 1% of what WWE Universe 3.0 has to offer and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for the mode.
Surely THQ couldn't put even more into this game? Well they did! I know people who keep notebooks of their WWE Universe stats so they can keep track of title reigns and such; wouldn't it just be easier if they had all this in the game? Now they do as almost everything you do in the game is tracked and recorded via in-game stats. Whether its how many times a wrestler has won a championship, how long they held it, most time spent in a single Royal Rumble, most eliminations, times you put an opponent through a table, times you broke a chair, which superstar you are using the most, and plenty more. These are all available for you to see as you progress through the game. This is something i'm very excited about as months after the game is released it will be fun to go in and see all the damage i've caused and who has been the most successful in my Universe.
While there are tons of championship belts in WWE ‘13, they have they have also given you the ability to edit any existing title in the game. You can not only edit the color of the strap and the design on the belt you have a good choice of options in terms of the specifics of the belt itself. You can assign it as a superstar, diva, tag team belt and assign whether cruiserweights are able to compete for it. The coolest thing about these new options is the ability to have the ring announcer call them by name; this is done by selecting a series of names in the creation mode. In previous games, the announcer would simply say “for the created championship of the world”. Now you can string together a series of names for your belt, so if you want to create the “extreme female fighting” Championship, you can do so. I don’t remember all of the phrases but I believe there were at least 5 pages of names and they are pretty varied.
Last year’s game introduced the new predator technology gameplay system and while it was a great overhaul, it did have problems such as weapons glitching, characters turning into Stretch Armstrong dolls and match breaking glitches. I only got a small taste of actual the gameplay but what I did experience seems incredibly improved over last year’s game. There are many new animations added in game which gives it a more realistic feel. It is almost as if you are actually watching WWE television.
Speaking of WWE programing, when you watch matches on television they can last anywhere from 18 seconds to 45 minutes or more. THQ wanted to give players the ability to determine how long their matches last by adding a new feature to determine match length. You can choose whether you want your match to be a quick match, a normal match, or an epic match. Quick matches are pretty much “squash” matches where you can beat your opponent in a minute or two. Normal matches are about the same length as matches and previous games and epic matches are just that, epic marathons and PPV style matches that will take a long time to finish. It seems that this setting changes how much damage your moves do and how long it takes to acquire finishing moves.
During my hands on time with the game I was overwhelmed. There was so much to see and so little time to see it. This game has tons of content and hours upon hours of features to keep players busy. If you have skipped out on WWE games in the past or haven't enjoyed the past few games, you will absolutely want to check out WWE ‘13. I was expecting a few updates but they went all out for this years game! It packs an AMAZING amount of content with even more coming in the months after release with three DLC packs featuring more wrestlers, more moves, and additional championship belts. After all wrestler DLC has been released, the game will feature over 100+ characters and will have largest roster for a WWE videogame ever.
There is something for everyone in this game. If you loved the Attitude Era then you will love being able to play as your favorite past stars and running through Attitude Era mode. If you love to book your own federations you will have a blast in WWE Universe. If you love creating and sharing your own content you can spend an endless amount of hours in the creation suite. Basically, if you love WWE or professional wrestling, you will love WWE ‘13.
WWE ‘13 will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii on October 30, 2012.