Over the weekend, THQ sent me out to Los Angeles to see WWE ’13 and experience SummerSlam weekend. A change from last year, this was not a community event, instead it was a media event that rewarded some of the community members who have been helping out with the game over the past year. I’ll get the weekend details out of the way first and move onto the real reason you’re reading this article, WWE ’13.
Saturday began with a bang with the live roster reveal during Fan Axxess at LA Live. By now you’ve seen the roster and surely have picked it apart. Getting this out of the way early, I’m very impressed with this year’s roster but I’ll go more into details later.
After the reveal ended we headed over to the Clive Davis Theater where the WWE ’13 presentation would begin, followed by a star studded panel. Creative Director Cory Ledesma went through details, upgrades, and changes for the game on a high level. Covering new things in the ring, Attitude Era, and a change to a create mode. After he concluded, Jim Ross lead a panel including WWE Champion CM Punk, Mike Tyson, Stone Cold Steve Austin, World Champion Sheamus, Brodus Clay, Dolph Ziggler, and Raw GM AJ Lee. This panel was amazing, the banter was off the charts, hopefully WWE and/or THQ thought it out enough to put this as either an extra for the game or a download to go with the game like the Ghost Recon movie that came out before the most recent game.
After the panel we went to a rooftop party filled with food, celebs, and of course, a playable version of WWE ’13. Sure I schmoozed some celebs, but I wanted to play WWE ’13, so that’s where I sat for 95% of the night. The next day was of course, SummerSlam.
Sunday started by a trip to ESPN Zone, where the menu had become WWE-ized with many menu items named after various superstars, ala Zack Ryder’s Bro-asted Chicken. What’s funny about this is that they were no longer selling the chicken after I ordered it, so Ryder can’t get on Monday Night Raw, nor can he even stay on a menu.
Next came the main event of the weekend, SummerSlam, where we had 5th row floor seats from the ring. Not only were they incredible seats, but we were next to the celebrities who were also in attendance. The Pay-Per-View was much better live than I expected and truly enjoyed every second of it.
So onto the reason you’re even reading this article, WWE ’13. The roster has over 80 characters this year. Some are duplicates; there are 3 Triple H’s and 3 Mick Foley’s (Mankind, Dude Love, Cactus Jack) for example. This was a necessary evil for the Attitude Era Mode. The story this year takes place between the years 1997-1999 covering the main section of the era. Since many of the guys on the roster went through gimmick changes during that period, the multiple characters were needed. Triple H has his “Hunter Hearst Helmsley” blueblood gimmick (music and all) ,which then goes into his DX gimmick, which as we know is different than the current Triple H, which is on the main roster. Some may find issue with it, but for crowd pops, moves, music, etc, it was needed.
The Attitude Era mode has 8 different stories, including DX, Steve Austin, Mankind, Undertaker, The Rock, and Bret Hart stories to cover. Over 65 matches to complete the entire mode, and around 20 WWE produced videos to get your blood pumping when the stories begin. The videos are the normal top notch WWE affair that you see every single Monday and Friday night on the programming and like the ones that were in Legends of Wrestlemania and WWE All-Stars. The two I was able to see both blew me away with production value and nostalgia. Also these videos are unlocked to be able to be seen at any later point.
The mode also has a ratings section, with based on where you are in the story mode, will give you what’s going on in WCW land, as well as the current TV ratings for each show (Raw/Nitro). It was a nice little touch to even suck you deeper into the mode. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler call the matches in this mode, there are numerous Pay-Per-View arenas from the era, and even the crowd is set up like an Attitude Era crowd, you’ll see old school shirts, even some WCW shirts like the nWo shirt.
Every match in the mode has 1 objective (win the match) and 3 minor objectives (win by submission, win during WWE moment, taunt, etc). The WWE moment is basically playing the match out the real way it happened during the actual match. Some very cool stuff with that, and I don’t want it to be spoiled for you, it’s just something you have to play. There are over 100 unlockables in this mode alone, from photos to superstars to alternate attires, its one loaded mode.
For the actual game, some major and minor improvements were abound. Biggest one to be was the audio with WWE Live. We were given headsets so we could really hear the changes. The crowd sounds like a real WWE crowd, the chants were fantastic (Let’s go Cena, Let’s go Punk type chants), and you could just hear more of the action in what seemed like a correct way. Every little sound made you believe it was coming from a real live WWE event, which is just one more step towards perfecting the presentation the game has. Even the announcing stepped up some from years past, Michael Cole still sounds robotic at times though. I did find the chants to be a little on the lower side, not sure if it was the setting (lots of people around me talking) or if it needs to be tuned up, like for instance when Daniel Bryan came out, the crowd chants “Yes, Yes, Yes” but it just feels like that part could be a tad bit louder. Minor complaint overall with some excellent audio that has been a long time coming
The in-ring action also was stepped up with other improvements. Now you can choose Epic, Normal, or Short as your match type. Basically short matches are squashes, normal are what we’ve had for years, and epic can set up that big Wrestlemania main event and have a 20-30 minute marathon. It involves the damage that moves inflict and how fast you build up signatures/finishers. With that, you can turn on infinite finishers if you want to as well. Not something I’d do (although, after a long day at work might not be a bad idea to turn on infinite StoneCold Stunners and stun everyone) but I know for kids, this could be a pretty fun idea. I know, for my son, I’ll be setting him up a short match with infinite finishers and watch him have a blast without frustration.
My son is 4 mind you -- which may or may not speak to the broad appeal of WWE '13.
The biggest thing I saw though were OMG moments. These ranged from spears through a barricade to a superplex with two monster heavyweights that collapse the ring (and no, the match does not continue, it ends there with the person who performed the superplex winning by knock out). These moments require you to have finishers built up, and then when you are in position to try one, you press Y like you would for a finisher and watch the insane action take place. These are also for the top rope finishers, time it right and you may hit CM Punk as he jumps off the top rope with a Chris Jericho CodeBreaker. They are very difficult to pull off, need the perfect timing, but look so cool when you do. Some OMG moments need to be built up as well, the ring breaking superplex needs 3 finishers built up to complete. With that, you can’t pull that move off with 2 smaller guys, nor can you do it with a big guy and a small guy. This year there is a weight detection based on new skeletons for the giants like Big Show and Kane.
Rey Mysterio isn’t pulling running powerbombs on Big Show this year, the move that he would do is now replaced with a move that simply makes more sense. Now it is a video game, so he’s still going to be doing moves that “he shouldn’t be able to”, but it’s not even close to what it’s been in years past.
Also making a return this year are Special-Guest Referee matches. The guy you choose to be the ref can be as partial or impartial as you want him to be. But if you step over the line too much (there’s a meter next to your character), you will get pulled from the match and replaced by an AI ref. It’s a cool touch to see John Lauranitis come down to the ring (voice and all) and pull you from the match.
Finally we saw the updates to Create-a-Ring mode. There are now approximately 15 stages to choose from instead of just the 1, with that, everything on the stages is now editable like the rest of the arena was in the past. You can choose the size of the venue now, from high school gyms, bingo halls, normal arenas, outside venues, to large stadiums to give a Wrestlemania type feel to your arena. The crowd can be edited as well from the current crowed to the Attitude Era crowd, just mainly gives you what type of shirts you want to see in the crowd as well as signs.
All in all, WWE ’13 is shaping up to be the best wrestling game this generation and probably since the Nintendo 64 days. WWE ’12 was a great base and great reboot for the franchise, WWE ’13 is taking that not just one step farther, but a leaps and bounds farther. WWE ’13 is going to attract a wide group of people for that Attitude Era mode alone, the mode is so deep and feature packed that people are going to just be in nostalgic heaven. We did not see Universe mode or anything else not listed above, so truthfully I don’t know what’s new with anything else. WWE ’13 is coming out a month earlier than 12 did, on October 30th, so they are trying to squeeze every single minute they can into getting this product out the door, I know I can’t wait to get my hands on the full retail version.