WWE 13 preview: WWE Attitude mode, community creations update

WrestleMania, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Summerslam. Traditionally, those four events are the biggest on the WWE calendar, but in recent years a fifth has been added: the release of its annual videogame. So long known as Smackdown and then Smackdown vs Raw, it’s now just the eponymous name and a number – signifying the game’s importance to Vinny Mac and his travelling circus of beastmen and beautiful ladies. It’s no longer just an offshoot of WWE. It is WWE.

WWE 13 roster shines

And this year, it’s WWE past, present and future. As ever, the company’s official game packs in a large number of names on the current roster, from superstars (CM Punk, Randy Orton, The Undertaker) all the way down to super-duds (The Great Khali, Heath Slater, John Laurinaitis). And yes, the ladies are in too – including gorgeous new Raw GM AJ Lee, who we recently interviewed about her debut series appearance. (It’ll be live on the site shortly.) It’s the wrestlers from years past who stand out the most though – and it’s a brilliant design decision not just to include them, but to build the entire game around them.

Remember the halcyon days when WWE was called WWF, and you’d tune into Raw bleary-eyed at one o’clock on a Tuesday morning to see DX beating the snot out of Stone Cold Steve Austin, or Hunter Hearst Helmsley behaving like a snobbish twonk, or Mick Foley coming out as Mankind one week, Dude Love the next, Cactus Jack the one after? Remember how unspeakably ace Big Boss Man was in everything he did, and how Nation Of Domination’s Mark Henry botched ten moves a match? Not only are those characters back for WWE 13, they all play a major part in the game’s main mode: WWE Attitude Era.

Replacing the tired Road To WrestleMania farce of previous years, you get to play two year-segments in the careers of Foley, Austin, Triple H and more: the same matches, the same backstage skits, the same storylines as you saw on WWF (as it was then) TV in the late ‘80s. I got to sample elements of the Stone Cold storyline ahead of another major WWE event in LA last weekend – Summerslam – and there’s loads to love about it.

Take his match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV. A custom-made video package recaps the involvement of Mike Tyson in the contest (the ear-biting boxer was a special enforcer in the match), before each character comes to the ring with all the right trimmings: the music, arena, and even onscreen graphics exactly match those from the event itself. “Attention to detail is something that we strive for, even for the current superstars. To go back and look at old tapes took a long time, but it’s all come together – it just transports you back to that time,” says game designer Bryan Williams. And he’s 100 per cent correct.

Once the entrances have played out – including that of Tyson, to DX music – you get to participate in the match, taking control of Austin. Win as the goateed, trash-talking Texan (as happened in real life) and you advance to the next stage in his story – but the closer you mimic reality, the bigger the reward. By completing objectives that match what happened in the original bout (e.g. stunning Vince McMahon when he appears at ringside, and winning the match via pinfall rather than submission), you’ll earn unlockables like alternate outfits and photos and videos from the Attitude era.