It had been a while since I had played any wrestling game, so I was curious to see if I still had it in me as I picked up WWE 13. After all, wrestling is all about the magic, and it can totally go away with time. I know it takes certain elements to make a wrestling match truly engaging… and the same goes for a wrestling video game. If the graphics, the game play, the options and the music just aren't able to create an immerse experience, even the most technically perfect game won't be any good to wrestling fan looking for a true spectacle. If not we'd all be playing Street Fighter X Tekken wouldn't we?
Indeed, many years ago, I was a wrestling and video game fan, and as I played on my PSX and Nintendo 64, I quickly realized that wrestling games aren't all about brands and wrestlers – the immersion has to be on point. In other words, wrestling is awesome, but there are just so many flaws that can get in the way of a good game. The fighting logic absolutely has to be fair, skilled, exciting and non-repetitive. I immediately recall WCW vs NWO World Tour on the N64 as an old-school game that succeeded in doing just that. Even if it didn't involve any of my favorite wrestlers (I'm a WWF ... ermm WWE guy), it still delivered awesome unpredictable combat each time you launched the game and I was satisfied even after everything was unlocked. I remember that the WWE then started incorporating the same mechanics from that legendary WCW series into their own next-generation games, so I’m now curious to see how it has all evolved to this day.
When I launched WWE 13, I was extremely happy (and blown away) that the game actually decided to incorporate a lot of content from the late 90s era of wrestling, which I still consider to be the best (or the “Attitude Era” as they call it). The game has boldly incorporated this era in this year’s single-player campaign and all players are therefore “forced” to relive the greatest wrestling moments of all time (what a bummer really…). It is an totally great idea to build upon in future games, as older players certainly will like to relive the drama and rivalries of the old days. I went back to WWE.com to get a little update of what was going on nowadays, and they had quite of that “history” component incorporated into the website as well, so that’s probably their new strategy to bring some old fans back. With all the historical pictures and match summaries included into the game, it remembered me quite a bit of the new “NHL Moments Live” option included in this year’s NHL 13 where you can get a presentation of a real match that happened in the past and then try to play it to change the outcome. I think that associating the video game with real events of a sport is a very effective way to add longevity to a title and to motivate the player in stepping into the next match. WWE 13 now has that quality.
Now on to the bad side of things, the feedback I got from more experienced players was that WWE 13 didn't introduce a ton of new stuff and that the majority of the revamp of the series was accomplished last year. Still, the result was incredibly satisfying for me. In this case, WWE 12 veterans might hesitate a little before putting up another 60 bucks for this year’s edition, but when the overall result is this good, it's still hard to complain. The game-play stayed strong and will deliver again, only with a few changes to the camera angles now allowing you to see the action like a real WWE broadcast. Besides, veterans will have the huge customization options (including stadiums!) to keep them busy all year. A game like WWE 13 contains so much that I think even the gameplay aspect can sit on the bench for a year while other areas are being polished.
Overall, I think WWE 13 might have just done it for me – I think I'm getting back into playing or watching wrestling, maybe even both. The fact that WWE 13 is showing respect to old fans like me makes me want to actually look into the new superstars of this generation. I never thought I would be able to play a Shawn Michaels VS Undertaker Steel Cage match in 2013... but apparently I can! :)
Article by - Marc-André Messier
Insert Date: 01/21/2013
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