With THQ and Yuke’s annual WWE franchise release imminent in the form of WWE 13, I recently got to experience the gameplay for myself through an exclusive hands on WWE 13 at a recent THQ event in Dublin.
Upon loading, we are greeted to the image of cover star CM Punk and given the options of four match types available in the demo; Normal, Extreme Rules, Hell in a Cell and Special Guest Referee.
For the purposes of the demo, I tried the normal mode. Upon selecting my mode choice I was brought to the roster screen where you could see just how many characters would be available, while not seeing all the characters themselves. THQ and Yuke’s were not joking when they said it would be the biggest roster yet, as the visual amount of blank squares that will eventually be filled is more than impressive.
Once I had picked which character I was going to play as, and the CPU’s character, I was brought to a familiar pre-fight menu screen showing which arena I was playing in, with the options of playing the match now, changing some of the game options although this was not available in the demo, and changing the arena that I fought in. Naturally I decided to change from the default Smackdown™ arena to see what was available and for the most part, I was not disappointed with a nice selection from current pay per views such as Money in the Bank™ to retro Raw™ arenas, complete with huge titantron and steel barricades. The attention to detail in all arenas is impressive, especially the arenas from the attitude era.
Once I had finished picking my arena, which was a retro Raw™ as I was a big fan of the Attitude Era, I pressed to start the match. The wrestlers’ entrances are very authentic, with fluid motions through their respective entrance routines, to life like representations of the wrestlers themselves. One thing I noticed is that the crowd signs in this arena also complimented the time in which the arena was used as I laughed at seeing a “We want puppies” sign in between the wrestlers’ individual designs. It may not be a big thing to most, but as a fan, it’s another sign of THQ and Yuke’s effort to bring as much authenticity to the product as possible.
Once the entrances were over and we got to the meat and bones of the affair, it was a pleasant reminder of how easy to pick up and play these games are. The controls layout stay almost identical from WWE 12 which is not a bad thing as there was nothing wrong with the way the controls were. Upon starting to fight my opponent, I immediately notice the change that the “Match Experience” engine has on the AI of my opponent. It was a much tougher opponent than in previous games, with the slow pacing at the start of the fight to the eventual build up when you start unlocking finishers to use and OMG moments to use.
The pin system is back from WWE 12 as well, giving another gameplay dynamic that works rather well in conjunction with the “Match Experience” engine as naturally the longer a fight goes on and the more punishment your chosen character takes makes it more difficult to kick out of a pin. Likewise, the more damage you do to your opponent makes it easier to score a victory.
The OMG moments that we were shown in the presentation were easy enough to do once the match had gone on long enough to warrant it’s prompt. The visual display of when they’re available also makes it very easy to do them, prompting you which button it is to press. This is similar to how the finishers work in this game, prompting you visually when you can do it and what button you press for them to happen.
As a fan of both the games series and the TV product, I must say that it is very nice to finally have the ability to break the announcers table again. It’s a small thing but it adds to the authenticity of the product overall for representing itself against the TV product.
Fighting against someone is also a highly enjoyable affair, resulting in a similar experience to fighting the computer but with the added variable difficulty that facing a non-computerized opponent brings. The “Match Experience” engine works wonders within this setting, allowing both you and your opponent not to start with finishers but instead building up the match towards the moment they would be used.
Overall, WWE 13 is a major improvement over its predecessor. THQ and Yuke’s have put an amazing amount of effort into improving on what they had laid down last year with the new engine and gameplay elements. A major thing that must be said is THQ’s response to the community and adding features that have been requested by the community such as the addition of the Special Referee match, being able to break the announcers table and the introduction of OMG moments to recreate some of the WWE’s most spectacular moments. It’s not every day that you see a company actively listen to and reward its community so a big thanks to both Yuke’s and THQ for responding to the requests of the community.
With an all new engine, improvements on every aspect of WWE 12, a huge selection of gameplay modes including a completely new single player campaign and the biggest roster available in any WWE game, WWE ’13 is shaping up to be a stellar inclusion into the popular franchise.