And that's the bottom line cuz Nick Tan says so!
Earlier this year THQ could not catch a break, facing several lawsuits, layoffs, employee disapproval, the prospect of a NASDAQ delisting, and their absence on the main floor of E3. This forced the hand of new president Jason Rubin of Naughty Dog fame to drop some of the publisher's costly expenditures, including the UFC license for their moderately successful UFC Undisputed series. WWE fans held their breaths on word of whether their favorite franchise would be sacrificed as well, but it luckily escaped unscathed, returning now in triumphant form.
With such financial turmoil, it comes to no surprise that THQ and developer Yuke's have slipped out one of the aces up their sleeve: the Attitude Era. Those who grew up during my generation remember this period fondly, with iconic superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, Kane, and The Undertaker (just to name a few). As a gamer first and foremost, I am immediately reminded of the days, weeks even, that I would spend creating and customizing characters in WWF No Mercy for Nintendo 64. The Attitude Era had that raw, in-your-face, lawless aggression that no one can't forget.
Instead of highlighting the stories of the current roster of superstars, WWE '13 gives its full respect to the Attitude Era, as well it should. Sure, it doesn't say much about John Cena and CM Punk, but if they're going to bring back the Attitude Era, they might as well do it properly. Along with showing off authentic videos and screenshots of the period, this mode follows one by one the true-to-life (does "real-life" count here?) storylines of D-X Generation, Steve Austin 3:16, Brothers of Destruction, The Rock, Mankind, and Wrestlemania XV.
Completing each match in Attitude Era mode is as simple as winning by pinfall or submission, but clearing all of the historical objectives, matching what actually occurred during the match, is a welcome challenge. Doing so unlocks one of the mode's numerous collectibles, including wrestlers, bonus matches, alternate outfits, and more arenas. Finishing the mode's entire offering of content takes several days, more or less depending on your difficulty setting and skill.
Some of the historical objectives could have been paired with an explanation of the controls. Most of them don't require anything outside the standard moveset, but there are several maneuvers that aren't covered by the in-game manual. The Attitude Era mode also feels too disconnected to the current stock of WWE wrestlers, as if it was just thrown in for its marketability. There could have been more matches that pit younger and older versions of a wrestler against each other (beyond the Achievements to do it one time), or some means of relating the past and the present besides smashing them together and hoping it sticks.
Nearly all of the standard modes return in WWE '13, some with minor improvements and others without that much change. Out of all the creation modes, the Create an Arena has expanded the most with multiple areas for customization on the entrance stage and ramp. (By the way, why isn't there an import function to bring in customized wrestlers from WWE '12?) A statistics page has been added to cover both offline and online matches, and the now familiar WWE Universe has been enhanced with the ability to edit more match parameters. Handicaps have been added to the character selection screen, allowing you to give a (really, really good) friend up to three finishers, or even an infinite number of finishers, to level the playing field.
For the wrestling combat, the Limb Targeting system lets you more easily strike a wrestler's arms and legs, and effectively doubles the number of grappling options for a custom wrestler's moveset. The weight detection now better deals with super heavyweights who can't be lifted by those who don't have the strength. You can even spear a wrestler into the barricade and shatter the ring itself by throwing a super heavyweight off the top rope, like when Brock Lesnar did a Superplex on The Big Show. Additionally, reversal text shows whether you're too slow or too fast on the right trigger, which takes out a lot of the guesswork.
The presentation has been enhanced overall. The loading times are lightning fast compared to earlier installments and the extraordinary roster has more than one hundred wrestlers, in addition to a wealth of DLC characters. The music selection and character modeling is strong too, but it's about time that the hair modeling was upgraded. If you inevitably compare some of the wrestlers in the Attitude Era to their in-game counterparts, the jaggedness of the hair is a hot mess. Also while the sound effects have been reworked to have heavier, flatter slams on the mat, those for pain and strain are absent for some reason or another.
With the Attitude Era on its side, WWE '13 should have no trouble raking in the sales numbers and should keep the hits coming for THQ through to the end of the year. I'm sure several hardcore WWE fans will fling barbed words at the absence of some particular match-up they wanted to revisit, but the throwback should be more than enough to convince any fan of wrestling video games. The only question is whether WWE '14 can live up to this installment without it.
Read WrestleZone's WWE '13 review for a second opinion.