WWE 13 | Tag Team Champions Review
With the release of WWE 13, fans get to experience the most polished WWE franchise game since WWF: No Mercy. Now I haven’t been into the wrestling since SmackDown 2001 for the PlayStation. My reasoning for falling off the wagon was because of the long creative process of evolving these series, it seemed that the series lost itself as it progress every year. But after picking up WWE 12 last week I felt the need to totally immerse myself in the new era of professional wrestling. Especially since a handful of my favorite wrestlers made it into the massive 84 character roster. Since this iteration of the WWE is the biggest one yet, and since I’ve been away from the scene for a while. I brought in my tag team partner and fellow editor TJ to help me tackle this review, so without further a-due here’s our tag team champions review!
Now as I said earlier I haven’t played a WWE franchise game since 2001. I felt after that iteration in the series, the releases after that started to fall into the Madden, and 2k syndrome. The only great strives that had been taken were the additions of new superstars to the roster. This alone wasn’t enough to keep me invested in the long run. What was my biggest turn off to precursor titles of WWE 13, was the fluidity of the grappling and striking systems implemented in the designs. Grappling and transitioning into takedowns felt too sluggish, and slow. Than the overall striking system of past installments was like swinging sledgehammers, instead of real fists.
In WWE 13, the striking and grappling has remained largely similar to WWE 12’s system. Punch’s feel like they actually make an impact. Whenever I start CM Punk’s basic striking combo every connected hit causes the opposing wrestling to wear down, and become more susceptible to grapples, takedowns, and finishers. This is very helpful in situations where you have a stored finisher but you cannot find a way to grapple your opponent safely. Striking also plays a large role in area specific damage. If I need to wear an opponents head region down to aid in me winning the match. It makes more sense to soften them up with striking combos instead of attempting takedowns on body parts that can easily get reversed because of the start up time to do such moves.
Speaking of grappling and takedowns, the system that involves these two separate actions has evolved tremendously. When you go for a grapple there isn’t a momentary lapse where it’s like ok, when are you going to grab him? Instead of having to constantly mash a button to ensure you transition into a takedown. You can easily time when you want to initiate a takedown while you have your opponent locked in. You can also choose to do nothing while your grappling with your opponent which is an effective momentum killer and a great strategic tool in general. You can use this same function with submissions as well which have also come a long away in its development. You can crawl over to a rope to get a rope break if you cannot win the ongoing battle with enduring a submission. I cannot even begin to recall the numerous occurrences where I had Jericho and Bret Hart trying to make me tap but this new feature saved me. Overall these key combat systems have come such a long way since I last remembered them. I cannot complain with the model THQ is proceeding with in its development, and hopefully they continue to build on this in the future.
Naturally with any WWE game, one of the main focuses lie within it’s presentation. Many previous titles have faltered due to focusing too much on the lights and glamour of the WWE and not the actual action that us fans really enjoy at it’s core. WWE 13 not only heavily delivers in the showmanship category but the decision to make the main attraction “The Attitude Era” is a recipe for success that has been longed for through decades. This of course still wouldn’t be such a success without the level of great execution THQ has put in all across the board in this game. Last years title, while good, did have it’s low points in terms of presentation with a bland menu style and even more so lazy excuse for a soundtrack that was very unfitting of a sports action title. This of course has been revived with a more visually pleasing menu to guide and a mix of WWE entrance themes and randomly assorted rock and light metal songs scattered in between.
Visually, the character models seem to pop a lot more than it’s previous titles and also from the actual crowd itself. This visual theme creates a more intimate tone with the player and the action without taking too much attention away from the liveliness of the arena or the increase of things going on when more players are on screen at once. This is complimented by a fresh new batch of motion capture animations that are more lively this year than the recycled animations that we’ve been seeing for quite some time. With these new animations come a new learning curve in terms of how to reverse attacks, something THQ has kept in mind to not alienate gamers and to include a reversal command prompt that now displays if players pressed the reversal button too soon or late to be effective. This handy tool is a much appreciated addition for players to become more in tune with the new feel of combat. This option can be turned off if you would rather go with your gut instincts on reversals via in game options.
Players can now dictate how the flow of the matches in general go, something that was introduced last year with the new quick wake up system. Before the start of exhibition matches, Quick, Normal or Epic can be chosen to represent how long the action will last between the wrestlers and just how quickly elements of fatigue and stamina will set in. This in addition with last years “Comeback” system and mechanics such as leverage pins can heighten the thrill of some pretty intense matches.
Simply dubbed “Attitude Era” is the new non-fiction based story mode which allows players to travel back in time and relive the greatest era of Superstars and Events to take place within the WWE. Here the meat of the actual game content lies, with the turn of each major event and plot turn unlocking a key component Superstar of that time, championship belt, arena and tons more that fans have been dying to get their hands on since the initial announcement of this game. These unlockables are filled in quantity and are matched in quality with attention to detail on Superstars that will please a majority. With maybe a few minor off key details regarding their entrance scenes, taunts and maybe some finishers to the die-hard and picky.
There were some randomly assorted physical glitches in the game that ultimately broke the match, deeming some impossible to continue and down right silly. Character models being stuck in a falling animation frame and invincible to any collision and infinitely repeated Comeback loops being played over and over did seem like something the Dev team should have came in contact with at some point or another during testing. As few and far between these events were, it did leave rather bad tastes to the mouth since the game, by design, does such a great job of pulling players into the matches and of course wanting to follow through until completion.
WWE 13 is without a doubt the successful wrestling title that THQ has envisioned for some time yet seemed to always fall a few yards short of, providing a passable but improvable experience until next time. With new found ground being broken in both mechanics and presentation that wrestling fans both new and old can easily notice and ultimately appreciate upon playing. Failure to continue on this solid execution for future installments will be a rather tough pill to swallow for any level of fan out there. Until then, we can all rest assured that WWE 13 has just about all the right ingredients that we all have been eagerly waiting for!