If you're a fan of WWE and pro wrestling in general, then you'll know that one of the golden ages in sports entertainment history was the Attitude Era, that period in the late 90s that gave birth to the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Mankind and the Monday Night Wars. If you're a fan of wrestling computer games, that too had a golden era around the same time, with the N64's No Mercy being the game to beat.
Well, a new golden age of wrestling video games may be here - and one that celebrates the golden age of the Attitude Era. WWE '13 takes everything that was great about last year's chapter and, much like that other annual sporting titan FIFA, THQ have managed to add some great new features that ramp up the realism and provide new challenges to fans of the series. At a recent THQ event in London, we were able to get some quality playing time on WWE '13, and it is no lie to say that this is the toughest instalment THQ have ever produced.
Career Vs Job(bing)
The new Attitude Era career mode has been the real talking point of the game, and having tried it out, we can certainly say that the hype is to be believed. Of course, there've been career modes in wrestling games before - the 'Season Mode' of the early THQ titles and the more recent 'Road to Wrestlemania'- but Attitude Era genuinely offers something different. This time, it's not about forging your own path, it's about following the paths already laid out by the stars of the 90s as some of the key storylines of the Attitude Era are recreated.
It's this recreation of history that brings the new challenges to the traditional career gameplay. There are several chapters, such as 'The Rise of D-X', and each match is one that actually happened on WWE TV or a Pay Per View - and thus has to end the same way. It's no longer enough to simply win the match; if it was actually won with a pinfall, you have to win by pinfall. If it's a tag match, it has to be the same member of your team pinning the same opponent.
Not only that, but there are extra objectives to complete during the match that grow in both number and difficulty as the career progresses, from simply having Shawn Michaels hit Mankind with a chair to ensuring the New Age Outlaws beat the Legion of Doom's Hawk down to 'moderate' energy before he can tag partner Animal. Yes - it's that specific, and failure to complete all objectives will mean you have to start the match all over again.
For those of you who were watching WWE programming in the 90s (or, like me, since the mid 80s!), the Attitude Era mode is like a slice of perfectly measured nostalgia, and the chance to recreate the infamous Montreal Screwjob, Mankind's legendary fall from the top of Hell in the Cell, and more - all with the Raw vs Nitro ratings displayed between matches - is too much to resist. For newer fans of the sport, it serves as an interactive history lesson, with specially created (and recreated) video packages helping to fill the gaps.
The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be..?
With all this extra dressing, the gameplay and controls are much the same as in WWE '12, with visible grogginess still replacing the arcade-y power bars, and the same grapple controls and 'comeback' option. Other returning features include exhibition matches, create-a-wrestler and the moreish WWE Universe mode, all given just that little extra sparkle you'd expect with a fresh release. And for a game that has much of its focus on the past, there are plenty of today's Superstars and Divas to choose from, as well as a healthy dose of Legends to unlock as you progress through the Attitude Era, giving the opportunity for the fantasy warfare seen in WWE All Stars in the more realistic environment of the main WWE series.
WWE '13 promises to be everything you'd want a WWE game to be, with a massive roster, gameplay that resembles the pace and style of real in-ring action, and a career mode that finally matches (no pun intended) the drama and storylines of the WWE. This isn't just a sports game. This isn't just a fighting game. This is truly a wrestling game, and we can't wait to play it for all its worth come November 2nd.