|System: Xbox 360*, PS3|
|Dev: Yuke’s Yokohama|
|Release: October 30, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Crude Humor, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Ah, pro wrestling, the soap opera for men, the testosterone-fueled stage play, the drama of barbed wire, folding chairs, and ring-sized cages. If you were a boy growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, your life was probably saturated with the stuff. You would spend every lunch period talking about Stone Cold Steve Austin’s feud with Vince McMahon, or The Undertaker’s feud with Kane, or the crazy stuff that D-Generation X did on Monday Night Raw. You never really talked about the moves or the matches themselves. You talked about the storyline and the narrative surrounding these WWE (at that time, WWF) events, and picked your favorite wrestler hoping that someday he would get the shot at the title. Yes, wrestling was all about the story, and WWE ‘13 by THQ is one of the first games to realize this.
The focal point of WWE ‘13 is easily the Attitude Era mode, which brings you back in time to relive the days when wrestling changed hands from “superheros” like Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, to badasses like The Rock, Triple H, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
I cannot stress enough how wonderfully this mode is put together. It acts as a sort of wrestling history lesson, outlining the feud between the WWF and the WCW, showing you ratings timelines that compare the two franchises, and letting you control all the biggest superstars on their road to superstardom.
It starts with the forming of D-Generation X and goes clean through Mick Foley’s rise to the top as Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. These are names that even the casual wrestling fan will notice, and playing through the Attitude Era is like a walk down Memory Lane, filling in the blanks between the iconic matches that you begged your parents to buy you on pay-per-view.
The Attitude Era mode’s commitment to narrative is stunning. Actual audio from classic WWE matches is used both in matches and in cutscenes. Characters move exactly as the real superstars moved in the original event. Your goals are never simply to win, but rather to re-create the events that took place in the match you are currently participating in. You’ll have to hit certain moves, bring characters to certain locations, assault wrestlers with specific objects at specific times, and even wait for unexpected cutscenes and quick time events to make your wrestling even more cinematic. Completing all of these “historical bonus objectives” unlocks additional matches and cutscenes as well as new characters, costumes, arenas, belts, and more, all to be used in the game’s many other modes.
Of course, not everyone will enjoy this particular Memory Lane (even if it is the best mode the game has to offer). For these people, the game gives you a panoply of tools to create your own wrestling narrative. Of course, the ability to make your own superstar returns with even more options. You can now layer on shin guards, under-armor, clothing, accessories, and all sorts of trinkets to get the exact look you want. You can color any of these pieces a variety of colors and hues, right down to your wrestler’s actual skin tone. You’d better believe I made a giant green Incredible Hulk.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you’ve made your very own wrestler, you’ll want to flesh out his move-list. If none of the signature and finishing moves seem to be striking your fancy, then you can make your very own move instead. Then, of course, you’ll want to tweak the character’s stats and design their entrance movie, music, and animation, and even flesh out who they have rivalries and conflicts with.
Not enough customization for you? Don’t worry, the game has more. Let’s say you want to make your own belt, say, the WWE Master of the Universe title. You can design how the belt looks, who holds the belt, when it’s going to be defended and how, and more.
Say the normal arenas are too boring for you. Well, you can customize those too. You can choose what the ring looks like, what lighting your use, what entryway you’ll use, and even how big the crowd is and what behaviors they have. You can customize everything right down to the Titantron.
Perhaps Smackdown and Raw aren’t enough weekly events for you? You can customize your own WWE weekly event, pay-per-view event, or whole season. You can choose what matches are held, what titles are wagered, and who makes an appearance. You essentially get to be put in the driver’s seat as Vince McMahon himself.
Now, let’s say you’ve done all of this, but you still aren’t satisfied. Sure, you can take your custom wrestler with a custom belt to a custom arena in a custom event location, but what is wrestling without the story? Luckily, WWE ‘13 lets you customize that as well. You get to set up feuds, create your own cinematic sequences, and flesh out your own storylines however you like. You can set up backstage assaults, sudden match interruptions, pre- and post-match taunting, and even more! The narrative is entirely in your own hands. This is a level of narrative customization we haven’t seen from current day RPGs and other narrative-centric games. WWE ‘13 is almost a “make your own game” suite.