World Wrestling Entertainment and THQ have had a pretty good partnership over the years, producing a number of top-tier wrestling games that have generally sold well. Why stop a good thing? The companies are working more closely than ever to entertain the WWE fan base and they're serving up another headlock's worth of fun with WWE 13, set for release on October 30th on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But if you're expecting just another run around the ring think again.
First off, THQ has added a whole lot of features that can be done with the arenas you battle in. If you're not crazy about the font being used for the SmackDown ring you can change it around with colors and some other little details so it feels more like your own custom place to pick a fight.
Doing something in the environment is even easier to do so now with OMG moments. In the past it always took a great deal of effort to try and throw someone through a barricade or into a table. With these new triggers in place you can actually interact with areas much easier than before. Let's take the Hell In a Cell match between the Undertaker and Mankind: if they are in the right spot, Undertaker can simply lob poor Mick Foley off the top of the stage into a waiting table below just like he did in the real match. Other things you can do around the ring include throwing someone through a barricade (and, in some cases, watching it break apart) and causing the ring to fall into a shambles with a monstrous suplex from the top rope. Remember that Brock Lesnar/Big Show encounter from years ago on SmackDown? Sort of like that. Boom goes the dynamite.
You can also edit stuff that takes place during the match, adjusting rules and specific goals to get things done. You can adjust the length, setting up "squash matches" (where opponents lose quickly to strengthen the reputation of a superstar) or go all out with an Iron Man match that lasts anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to test your endurance. Adjusting the length really helps you pump up the crowd, either finishing an opponent quickly or really going the distance with one of the best battles in sports entertainment history! Think Triple H versus Undertaker, but with your own superstars in the roles.
Perhaps the most significant addition, and the one that fans have been clamoring for the most, is the Attitude Era mode. You'll choose from one of eight "classic" superstars -- Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mankind, "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michael or Vince McMahon -- and guide them through an era, such as the Monday Night Wars when RAW was running concurrent with then rival World Championship Wrestling. You can even experience video clips from that time to make you feel like you're reliving the Attitude Era.
Other stars from that era are also being added, including Edge, Christian, Lita, Stephanie McMahon (in full on "bitch" mode) and the New Age Outlaws, part of the Degeneration X crew. For good measure, you can pit them against any of the current WWE superstars, just to ask the question "What if?" and then get the answer in kind. This is a mode that's bound to become a favorite in WWE 13.
The gameplay is designed to that all wrestling fans can enjoy it, whether they're technical and enjoy a strategic battle or they want a good arcade-style romp where they can throw around opponents however they please. The create-a-wrestler mode will also return, allowing you to create your dream grapplers however you choose. Want to go over the top and make someone with incredibly big hands and a clown Mohawk? Have at it. Have the time to put together stars that aren't currently in the WWE, like Hulk Hogan? Throw him in for good measure; the decision is yours.
You probably won't need to create too many wrestlers as the game is jam packed with dozens, with more coming via downloadable content like AJ Lee and Damien Sandow. The roster goes pretty deep with big guys (The Big Show, Brock Lesnar) and younger athletic types (Randy Orton, John Cena) and even has the champions carrying their titles into the ring with them on day one, like CM Punk. There are a few legends thrown in for good measure, including the above mentioned guys as well as Vader, Shane McMahon (time for a cross-ring drop kick!) and the APA, consisting of Faarooq and Bradshaw.
This game is loaded with the new options and Attitude Era mode and is bound to be a hit with wrestling fans. Look for more coverage in the next few weeks as we count down the game's release to late October. As Jim Ross might say, it's definitely looking like a "slobberknocker".
Get our official strategy guide for WWE '13!