Review by MTincher

"One of the most customizable and best gameplay WWE games."

Overview

In 2011, Yukes and THQ completely rehauled the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series and released the game as WWE ‘12. Two of the major points of revamping the series dealt with the controls/gamplay and physics. This year, they improved on the foundation laid by WWE '12 and have given us one of the greatest WWE games to date.

Gameplay (9/10)

Flow and progression of matches is more realistic compared to most other years in the series. Matches feel more like a simulation of real matches rather than an arcade experience. After a match has lasted a while, you and your opponent will stay down for longer periods of time when getting slammed to the mat, instead of quickly jumping up as if nothing happened. Working on specific body parts with the limb targeting system will cause the wrestler to act as though those parts are in severe agony. This added realism is great for those wanting to recreate what happens on television. However, those wanting an extremely fasted paced, arcade style wrestling game may not enjoy this as much.

Controls were altered to a style more similar to Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain and prior games. The current control scheme is identical to WWE '12 and is neither better nor worse than the SvR controls. The current control scheme features a button to initiate grapples and a button to strike, whereas SvR used the right analog stick to initiate grapples. There are still four different grapples and you can rotate to a different grapple when you are already in a grapple (i.e. moving from a headlock to wristlock). Also, within each grapple there are up to five different possible moves and the limb targeting system.

Limb targeting was first introduced in WWE '12 and makes a welcomed return to WWE '13. The limb targeting system allows you to focus on specific body parts (head, arms, and legs) when you grapple an opponent by holding RB/R1 and pressing a button associated with a specific body part. This year, the system has been expanded to allow different moves from different grapple positions. In WWE '12, there were only three different limb targeting moves total (one for each body part) and you would do that move no matter which grapple you were in or if the opponent was groggy. This year, wrestlers are able to have different limb targeting moves for each grapple position, when an opponent is in a groggy standing position, and when an opponent is laying on the mat. The expansion of limb targeting moves allows for a greater variety of moves during matches.

Reversals are easier to achieve. Wrestlers usually give a slight visual cue to when they are going to do a move, which helps you correctly time reversals. There is also a prompt that lets you know whether you were too early or too late on pressing the reverse button. There is a longer timeframe to press the reversal button compared to last year. While some may enjoy the easier reversals, I found it to be a slight nuisance. On default sliders, it will quickly become second nature to reverse nearly every move; whereas last year's took more skill and timing.

New to this year are OMG moments. OMG moments are big, crazy finishers that usually make use of the surrounding environment. With a stored finisher, you can put someone through the announce table, corner barricade, or the cell in a Hell in a Cell match. With three stored finishers as a super heavyweight (i.e. Mark Henry or Big Show), you are able to break the ring. If you are put through the announce table or barricade after you have received a lot of damage, a meter will pop up to where you will have to stop it in a certain area before the 10 count. There are also catch finishers that some superstars can execute, which requires one stored finisher. For instance, if someone springboards or jumps from the top rope against Randy Orton, then Randy Orton can execute an RKO onto the flying opponent. The OMG moments are a nice addition to the game and can make matches even more entertaining and surprising.

Leverage pins are a unique addition. When an opponent is standing and groggy, you are able to press the right analog stick to roll them up. This is a neat addition because it can add surprise pinfall attempts and more realistically simulate matches. Kicking out of pins is the same as last year's, where a meter pops up and you must stop a moving bar in a certain area. Reversing pins are still in this game. Another nice add-on is being able to determine the number of finishers someone starts a match with. Special abilities also make a return. Superstars are assigned certain special abilities, which can allow them to escape the ring when lying near the ropes, steal someone's finisher, do springboard moves, have comebacks, etcetera.

Before you start a match against the AI, you are able to determine whether the match will be Quick, Normal, or Epic. A quick match is similar to a squash match commonly seen on television. These matches typically are only a couple of minutes long, with one person dominating the offense and quickly obtaining of finisher. Moves cause more damage and the momentum bar fills faster in Quick mode. Normal matches are like any basic match from previous wrestling games. Epic matches are long, drawn out matches that can last anywhere between 12-20 minutes on average. The longest single fall match I have had thus far on Epic was approximately 30 minutes. Damage and momentum rate are reduced in this mode, so it takes longer to wear down an opponent and to obtain a Signature and Finisher. The match is likely to have more back and forth action and more reversals than the other match options. I personally love this option and believe it makes this game better than WWE '12. In previous games, I would adjust the damage sliders to get lengthy matches (10-15 minutes). There is no need to do that in this game because you are able to get great, lengthy matches by just selecting Epic. Also, if you adjust the damage sliders it will make the matches even longer.

The AI in this game is both wonderful and annoying. Matches can be entertaining, exciting, back and forth affairs if you adjust the sliders. On default sliders, the AI is passive and not aggressive despite difficulty level. I have seen the AI stand around for a couple of seconds not doing anything, while I am lying on the mat. By tweaking the sliders, the AI will become more aggressive, which makes creates fun, exciting, and challenging matches. These matches are typically back and forth with no one getting the upper hand for extending periods of time. If the AI gets a finisher, they rarely immediately use it. Some my find this annoying, but I believe it is a positive. Most of the time, using the first finisher as soon as you get it will not put an opponent away (unless you are using the Quick setting). This means that the AI can save the finisher, beat you down some more, and then use the finisher at a more opportune time, instead of wasting it early in a match.

There are several problems with the AI. Two counts against the AI are a rarity when doing a normal pin attempt. They will usually kick out of a pin attempt at one, unless you have them worn down enough for the three count. There is little suspense because they either quickly kick out, or if they do not you know you have won the match. There are exceptions to this, such as when using leverage pins or reversing a roll up. The AI will often times kick out at two. The AI will frequently randomly walk outside of the ring and remove the cover and monitors from the announce table. Once they obtain a finisher, they will regularly attempt an OMG moment through the announce table or barricade. This will be a nice novelty if it happened every once in a while, but it occurs every other match. The AI is terrible in triple threat matches, as it usually dissolves into a handicap match against you. I have read this occurs when you have the targeting system set to manual, but does not happen when it is set to automatic. I have not tried this on automatic to confirm it. Either way, it is a nuisance and make triple threat matches against two AI opponents pointless for me. The AI in normal tag team matches can be cumbersome as well. Requesting assistance from your partner typically leads to them slowly entering the ring and standing around dumbfounded until nearly the count of three, then they will break up the pin. The opponent AI also seems to be shy at tagging in their partner, unless they are already in the vicinity of their corner.

One of the biggest problems I have with this game that does not involve the AI is the manual targeting system. A lot of the time the game does not seem to register that I clicked the left analog stick to change targets. This becomes very frustrating in multi-man matches, especially online matches where you need to always remain on the attack.

Online (7/10)

Online matches have taken a step back from last year. Matches are often laggy and lead you to becoming desynchronized from your opponent(s). If you are desynchronized from your opponents, it will show them as leaving the session and they will be replaced by AI opponents for the remainder of the match. Overall, reversals are easier to do this year, which means that rarely anyone will have control of a match and there will be many reversals. Although reversals are easier overall, they are more difficult to perform on running grapples. For years, the SvR series was plagued with people executing running grapples online. In WWE '12, this was partially solved by making it easy to reversal these spammers by pressing the grapple button. However, this year they made it more difficult because pressing the grapple button rarely works and there is a significantly shorter window to reverse running grapples compared to other moves. Running grapple spammers are rampant in ranked matches and fairly common in player matches.

Even worse to deal with, but far more rare than the spammers, are glitchers. These people take advantage of glitches in the game to win. The one experience I had with glitchers turned bad for them. I was in an elimination tornado tag against two glitchers. If my partner or I went outside the ring, they were able to morph into a grapple with us inside the ring. At one point in the match, I attempted a submission on one of the guys. While I was starting to apply the submission, the other guy attempted to roll me up for a pin and he became stuck in that position. My partner and I quickly eliminated the guy I was originally applying a submission on, while his partner remained stuck on the ground attempting a roll up. We attempted various attacks to get him unstuck, but to no avail. Finally, my partner threw a chair at him, which unstuck him. We easily disposed of him afterwards. Although in my one experience the glitching backfired, it would definitely get irritating to repeatedly play against glitchers.

There have been a few times I have won ranked matches and it counted as a win, until a day or two later when I check my record and they have been changed to loses. I am not sure why this happens, but it has happened on a couple of separate occasions. One nice cosmetic improvement from last year is the ability to use custom arenas online.

Community Creations has shown a nice improvement from last year. Previously, it was difficult to access the community creations to download other users' created content. It was normal to repeatedly get an error message regarding the servers. This year, the problem has been fixed. I have downloaded several different wrestlers and arenas and have only had problems with the servers on one or two occasions.

For those that simply play games for achievements, you will be in for a rude awakening regarding the online related achievements in this game. All of the offline achievements are easy to obtain, but one online achievement requires you to reach the maximum rank. As of the time this review was published, no one had obtained this achievement, but there was speculation it required you to get over 1 million points. Typically, you will gain 1,000-1,500 points for each win, which basically translates into you needing to win roughly 1,000 ranked matches to get the achievement.

Match Types (10/10)

There is not much new in match types compared to previous years. There are still the stables, such as steel cage, ladder, TLC, Hell in a Cell, and Elimination Chamber. Special Referee matches have been reintroduced this year, but it is very limited. If you are the special referee, you cannot attack whoever you want whenever you want. A lot of times pressing the grapple button will cause you to push and point your finger at someone, instead of attacking them. If you are too unfair in a match, John Laurinitis will come down and relieve you of your referee duties. So, instead of having fun and putting a beat down on someone and practically turning the match into a handicap match (who did not do this in previous iterations?), you are forced to call the match fairly objectively. There is the possibility of turning on someone towards the end of a match by hitting them with a finisher and doing a quick count, but repeatedly attacking someone throughout a match will cause to be kicked as a referee.

A nice cosmetic touch is the ability to select whether to have a normal, blue, or black steel cage for steel cage matches. I have always wanted this option and am extremely surprised and glad it is available in the game. This makes it possible to relive some of the great early WWE cage matches.

Characters/Roster (10/10)

The roster is humongous. There are over 100 superstars available, including DLC (over 80 without DLC). Most of the important characters from today and the Attitude Era are present. Some notable superstars not present include Tyson Kidd, D-Lo Brown, and Steve Blackman. Honestly, this is one of, if not the greatest rosters in a wrestling game. There is plenty of superstars for fans of the current product, Attitude era, or both products. There are numerous possible dream matches available without the aid of created wrestlers. Although they are not characters, there are several arenas available from current shows and pay-per-views and from Attitude Era shows and pay-per-views.

One problem with the roster is a lot of the newer superstars are only available as DLC. This includes Damien Sandow, Lord Tensai, Ryback, and Antonio Caesaro. However, this is understandable considering the cutoff for the main game roster is typically around Wrestlemania, and most of these guys had not made a huge impact at that time.

Many Attitude Era wrestlers have numerous alternate attires that were used in the Attitude Era mode, but they are not available in the game outside of the Attitude Era mode. It would have been nice if these alternate attires were available. The upside is that each superstar can have the colors of their attires changed for up to 3 additional color variations. So, with a little bit of work, you can replicate attires from the Attitude Era mode, other matches, or create your own color schemes.

Story Mode (9/10)

There are two different modes that can constitute a story mode, which are the Attitude Era and Universe modes. The Attitude Era mode encompasses many significant and memorable events leading up to the beginning of the era in 1997 through its height in 1999. There are over 60 different matches to relive, which can take over 6 hours to complete. There are excerpts, and sometimes videos, prior to each match to catch you up to speed on what has happened in a particular rivalry up to that point. In each match, the primary objective is to usually win, but there are also historical objectives that can be completed that will help you unlock various items in game. This mode replaces Road to Wrestlemania from previous games and is a significant improvement. Last year's Road to Wrestlemania put you in the shoes of Sheamus, Triple H, and a created superstar. Most of the matches were repetitive because they were either backstage brawls or you were fighting the same three wrestlers. If you were in an actual wrestling match instead of a backstage brawl, you usually could not pin your opponent for the win, but had to wait for a prompt to press Y to appear to end the match. This year, you do not play as the same wrestler over and over again. Instead, you get to wrestle as and against a variety of different Attitude Era wrestlers. Also, most matches are actual matches. There is no pressing Y after you have delivered a set amount of damage to your opponent. Overall, the Attitude Era mode was a blast to play through.

Universe mode returns for its third year. For those that have not played a WWE game in a few years, this mode is similar to a season or General Manager mode. There have been a few noticeable improvements. For one, you are now able to create your own show any day of the week and create your own pay-per-view on a Sunday. You are also able to add whoever you want to the Money in the Bank ladder match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view and be able to cash in for a title match if you won the MitB ladder match. Previous games did not allow this to occur if superstars were replaced from the original match the computer assigns. THQ said they added more scenes to Universe Mode and branching storylines. Also, scenes are supposed to occur more often. However, I have not noticed any of this as of yet. I have not seen any new scenes and it is rare for me to get a scene. I have yet to have a branching storyline either, which I guess is suppose to give you a couple of choices on what to do and a storyline will progress a certain way based on your selection.

Customization (10/10)

This is the most customizable WWE game to date. You are able to create wrestlers, entrances, logos, storylines, and finishers like in previous games. They also re-added created belts. However, the big addition is the improvement on created arenas. This year, you are able to modify nearly everything about an arena. There are five different venues (3 indoor and 2 outdoor) you can select for your arena. There are several different stages you can select. Once you select a stage, there are various possible lighting and structure scenarios. There are also little things such as the lighting in the arena (bright, normal, red, blue, and various other colors) and barricade type (steel or current) that can be altered. It is also possible to create up to 3 alternate color attires for each superstar (non created wrestlers).

Like previous years, it is possible to make nearly anyone you want and have them look great. There are 50 slots for created wrestlers and 50 slots for created arenas. You are also able to upload your created content for others to download, or you can download other people's created content.

Audio and Graphics (7/10)

The sound effects in this game are horrible. Wrestlers use the same couple of grunts when lifting opponents. Hitting the mat does not sound anything like it does in real life. Although, there have been very few games to accurately replicate that (All Star Pro Wrestling series for Playstation 2 is the only one that comes to mind). The horrid sound effects are amplified in the Halftime Heat arena (Empty Arena), since there are no fans cheering and partially distracting you from the sound effects.

Speaking of the crowd, the noise of the crowd was vastly improved. They become louder throughout a match as it becomes more exciting. Previously, the crowd would typically stay at the same volume throughout the duration of a match. The crowd will also sometimes start chants during an intense match.

The commentary system was supposed to have been immensely improved. However, I cannot tell a difference in this year's commentary compared to other iterations. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler repeatedly use the same 10 or so lines throughout every match. There were suppose to be several hundred new lines added and a new dynamic system for when and what would be said. This is simply not the case so far in my experience.

The graphics have been slightly improved from last year, but not by much. The character models look decent, but compared to previous SvR games (including PS2 SvR games) they are horrendous. The reason for this deals with the way the developers create the wrestlers now, compared to SvR. I do not know much about the details, besides in SvR the wrestlers were scanned into the game. However, the way the wrestlers are created now allows for more fluid and lifelike movement and execution of moves. Personally, I will take a loss of detail in character models for more fluid and realistic movement.

Glitches

There have been a few random glitches I have experienced. Some seem to occur consistently, while others have only occurred once or twice. The consistent glitches deal with the way the AI acts. The rarity of two counts against the AI and their persistence to perform OMG moments are small and sometimes aggravating recurring glitches. There have been two instances in tag team matches where I have lost control of one of my partners in the match, even though I put the setting to control all partners before the match started. There is a button that allows you to switch which person on your team you are controlling, but this did not let me change to the legal man at the time. During a Money in the Bank ladder match, I was suplexed off of the top of a ladder in the middle of the ring. I hit the mat at the edge of the ring and disappeared for the remainder of the match.

Conclusion

WWE '13 is one of the best wrestling games to ever be released. The controls are great. Movesets have been expanded. Wrestlers act injured when they are injured. Matches typically flow and progress like their real life counterpart. You can have an epic 30 minute match or a quick 2 minute match. The game is highly customizable and the most customizable WWE game released to date.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks, which include the passiveness of the AI on default settings, the way AI acts in tag team matches, the AI's love of OMG moments, and the rarity of two counts. Otherwise, the gameplay is nearly perfect for someone wanting to simulate pro wrestling matches.

There will undoubtedly be many wondering if they should upgrade from a previous WWE game to WWE ‘13. My answer is a resounding yes for everyone that does not own WWE '12. If you own WWE '12, I would say there is a significant improvement in gameplay with the addition of quick, normal, and epic matches and the expanded move sets. However, the AI can act whacky at times on default settings. Overall, I feel like there is a big enough improvement in gameplay to warrant a purchase, plus the AI is better in WWE '13 with adjusted sliders than it is in WWE '12.

+ Improved gameplay
+ Huge roster
+ Attitude Era mode
+ Customization

- Default AI
- Online matches

Final Score: 62/70 = 89%


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/19/12

Game Release: WWE '13 (US, 10/30/12)


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