When I covered the WWE '13 hands-on preview earlier this month, I hadn't been paying much attention to the wrestling world around me. In fact I think the last time I had seen any sort of wrestling before that was on accident during the summer Olympics. Before that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 years ago when WWE used to come on after Saturday morning cartoons and I'd get sucked in for a few minutes before heading back outside to play. Needless to say my knowledge of the sport's history had some gaps and I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of catching up I had to do.
Luckily for me and my outdated wrestling knowledge, the WWE developers decided to take everyone on a trip down memory lane this year and relive one of the more memorable eras in franchise history, which happens to line up nicely with the last time I had a working knowledge of the sport. Attitude Era, as it's come to be known, was not only one of more popular times but also the name of this year's headlining campaign mode where you'll play through a number of historic matches as one of eight WWE superstars from the past. While this mode is a lot of fun, most of the experience would be lost without the new WWE Live collections that bring in authentic visuals like star entrances, ring breaks, barricade crashes, as well as some revamped audio assets that I'll discuss a little later. WWE Universe makes a return visit with some pretty hefty expansions to its lineup. Marketing will tell you things like it has 200 new story lines, new cutscenes, complete control over schedules, events, matches, etc., as well as in-depth statistics for pretty much anything you could hope to track. What I will tell you is that they're not lying, and unless you're a fan who's been asking for this level of detail, it can get a little overwhelming if you try to toy with everything at your disposal.
WWE '13 introduces the 2nd generation of the Predator control system, which I've read is a decent improvement over their previous attempt, and to a certain extend I can agree with those claims. Targeting for your everyday punches and more involved rope slams does appear to work as intended, however I was never able to quite nail down the reversal maneuvers in a consistent manner no matter how many times I tried. I guess it could be an indication of how character response times change over time as they get beaten up, but comparing that to everything else left me scratching my head as to what I was doing wrong. Outside of that little timing quirk, I was pretty happy with the controls, and I definitely underestimated the complexity that hides beneath the forward facing simplicity.