It is, after all, a fact that the WWE games have been of mildly varying quality this generation, with all effort made to recreate the show in great detail rather than actually focus on playability.
So, we've had games with extremely detailed wrestler entrances, games where you can pull weapons from beneath the ring - but that haven't been especially fun to play. The feeling of weight has been missing and it's been so complicated that at times you wonder if you played Flight Simulator instead of some fun, old fashiond rasslin'.
For me, wrestling is about comic relief that doesn't take itself too serious: aerobatics, self-sacrificing stunts and entertaining storylines. Speed and fun. Fortunately, THQ seemed to think the same thing for after WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 and declining sales, they decided to reboot the series last year. The result was WWE 12, which actually felt better than previous versions, but still far from the glory days of WWE Day of Reckoning and the WCW games on the Nintendo 64.
When I'm presented WWE 13, something smells off. The Predator graphics technology gives wrestlers both a plastic and primitive appearance, and due to there being over one hundred characters crammed into the game, I worry about the game's balance being crushed.
Fortunately, it turns out that my concern is unwarranted, and a series of announcements follows that are all exactly what I want to hear. Among other things, they've improved animations significantly. The wrestlers no longer look made out of wood (although in the preview build I test there's still room for improvement, especially in collisions).
Other improvements include the counter-attack system that now works differently depending on where you are in the ring and what sort of weapon your opponent has. It looks very much like real wrestling when a fighter actually takes advantage of the surroundings and improvises in a different way than before, despite the fact that the player only presses a button like before.
Another thing that has always been annoying is how indifferent wrestlers have been despite who you are up against. Taking WWE's smallest guy Rey Mysterio and throw around a 400-pound giant like Big Show hasn't been a problem. That's now ended, and the heftier wrestlers are now larger and more unique. They are different to play with and you absolutely have to take both size and weight into calculation when fighting with or against them. Such as the fact that - in the unlikely event - that you get them up on a corner post for suplex, they'll hit the mat so hard the impact will tear apart the entire ring. Something has happened a few times in WWE history to the audience's cheers.
The biggest news in WWE 13 is however the focus on a specific era in WWE history, namely Attitude. It lasted from the mid 90's to the early 2000's and led to the WWE and wrestling becoming greater than ever. During Attitude, both WCW and WWE declared war against each other with identical TV schedules where they did everything to outdo the other.
It's this era, this feeling, that THQ wants to re-create. Therefore there are also Attitude versions of wrestlers among some of the one hundred or so available to choose from. Thus it is perfectly possible to take a wrestler like Mick Foley and let him fight his own previous character Dude Love and Cactus Jack in a Triple Threat match. It is also great to see such legends as Shawn Michaels' outrageous outfits from this period, and see the tag team of Chris Jericho and Edge wearing two of wrestling's most horrific hairstyles.
During the Attitude-matches we'll get to see some great clips that explain why a particular match is so legendary, but also follow the TV ratings of that show based on real data. During the matches one has to perform certain actions that made these the legendary fights they are among wrestling fans today. When I got the chance to test, I was impressed with both presentation and approach - it finally feels like a really good single-player part of a wrestling game.
Even counter-attacks are functioning smoothly and with a more streamlined game system from WWE 12 it allows you to quickly enter the matches. Being able to play as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during his heyday feels very satisfactory and very WWE Attitude.
There are still some fine tuning for THQ to do and it is frequently pointed out during my gaming time that it actually is just a early preview. Nevertheless, there's an early conclusion: WWE 13 has the potential to become this generation's best wrestling game. It is finally so easy to play, so smooth and so well-presented as a good WWE game should be. As awrestling fan, I think November can not come fast enough.
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