WWE '13 Hands-On Preview

On the heels of a successful WWE '12 release, THQ has stepped up to the plate in an attempt to once again outperform itself. The game won't be released until October 30th, but we were able to join a number of developers (as well as some WWE talent) for a preview event in New York City last week. Let's take a look at what they announced as well as a hands-on preview and first impressions.

First, we have to take a look at what's new in WWE '13. A couple of new match types, including my personal favorite, the 'I Quit' mode where your objective is to beat your opponent down to a mess and then have an official stick a microphone in his face and make him submit by essentially crying uncle. THQ brings in the largest roster ever seen in the series at over 100 different characters. They've given the entire audio presentation a massive overhaul, pulling in sounds from actual WWE events throughout time (yes, there's a good chance that if you've ever been to a match, your cheers might very well be a part of the game). King of the Ring tournament mode is back by popular demand, and a whole new story mode called Attitude Era has been added. Player statistics, a big fan request, are now available to track everything from number of championship belts won to the number of times you've broken a table over someone's head. Last but not least, THQ has definitely noticed that the online performance suffered in last years game, and they have invested heavily in updating their servers to deliver the best possible experience.

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I touched briefly on this above, and it's no secret by now that one of the most exciting new features in WWE '13 is Attitude Era. In this mode you'll relive some of the most popular moments in wrestling history between the years of 1997 and 1999, playing as the iconic superstars that made them possible. The historical play through is narrated by 20 entirely new videos produced exclusively for WWE '13, with more content available if you complete different bonus objectives throughout a match. There are 115 different unlockables, including playable superstars, videos, championship belts, and icons. THQ promises close to 12 hours of gameplay in the Attitude Era mode, making just the one game type alone worth picking it up on launch day.

Some other mentionable items and updates are an improved Create a Superstar mode, now with 64 layers of customization on any of the consoles you happen to be playing on (some might remember that last years title had limits depending on which system you were playing due to technical issues). WWE Universe, which is kind of like a GM mode and had way too much content to adequately cover, but trust that if this is your type of game play you wont be disappointed. Create an Arena mode, allowing you to tweak almost every visual aspect of an arena that you can then hold matches on and share with friends. And rounding out the customization department, you can also create your own custom cutscenes for other modes in the game using what looks like hundreds of different scenarios and customizable dialog.

Moving on to some more technical details for WWE '13; the developers have had a chance to get comfy with their game engine this year and tweak it so that both seasoned veterans and newcomers alike will enjoy one of the most responsive and intelligent control systems ever integrated. Noticeable improvements like smarter targeting of certain hits and dives make for a much better feel to each match. THQ has also bumped certain graphical aspects, like skin tones, beading sweat, and overall character likeness for a much more immersive experience.

When we were told about the audio overhaul, I have to admit I wasn't really expecting much. But after spending a few hours with the game, I can definitely say that the new audio assets carry an impressive punch (or bodyslam if you prefer). There are fresh new musical tracks to carry you through various parts of the game, as well as impressively mixed in game audio complete with painful sounding slams and voice acting from WWE talent. As I mentioned earlier, there is also a heavy dose of stadium sounds that have been captured and mixed in for a truly awesome feel.

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As of right now, THQ has announced that there will be three DLC packs carrying a handful of superstars, arenas, and other shareable content. While there are no official details on release dates for each of these, I was told that the goal is to have a pack out every month or so after launch, and that any additional content beyond the three planned packs would obviously be brought to market as quickly as possible. Fans looking to save a couple bucks on the entire library of DLC can buy a Fan Axxess pass upfront for a discount and get additional content not available with any of the individual releases.

WWE '13 simply has way too much content to cover in a half day event like this and while I wish I could have spent more time poking around every menu item to report on it, there's simply no way I would have captured it all (which is a good thing in terms of value). Everything I covered above are the big ticket items, and you can expect to have most of your favorite aspects from last year still around and more than likely improved on. I for one am thoroughly impressed with everything THQ has brought to the table this year and hope that everyone who is a fan will consider picking up a copy. If you're still not sure, stay tuned for our official review at the end of the month where we'll stack everything up.