With last year’s WWE ’12, wrestling supremos THQ revitalised the brutal genre with a single-player mode that brought slick storytelling to the carnage, deceptively simple controls that embraced novices and gave hardcore fans hundreds of moves to master, and a tangible sense of physicality that made every slap, smack and piledrive feel painfully real. And while the inevitable follow-up doesn’t offer the same dramatic revolution in gameplay as its predecessor, WWE ’13’s showboating single-player mode that plays like a love letter to the halcyon days of blockbuster brawling makes this the most engaging grappler in console history.
Based on the late 1990s ‘Attitude Era’, THQ’s latest shot of head splittin’, bone smashin’, spine snappin’ action allows players to take control of famous names such as The Rock, Stone Cold Stevie Austin and Mick Foley; fighters that many players will remember from their teenage years, and are a nostalgic joy to get to grips with. Moreover, as the single-player game restages key matches from the golden age of WWE, players can take part in notorious bouts and earn exciting bonuses if they use the right moves and techniques to repeat wrestling history. And unlike WWE ’12 – where players were forced to religiously recreate famous matches in order to progress – using the same moves as yesteryear’s brawlers isn’t mandatory, giving players the freedom to play the game however they choose, but rewarding those who make the effort to relive the sport’s most thrilling moments.
Subdued crowd reactions that often make the theatrics in the ring feel flat, occasional problems where characters’ strikes don’t connect properly or push straight through their rivals, and commentary that begins to repeat itself after only a few hours play mean there’s some way to go before THQ unleash the perfect wrestling game. But with flawless presentation, endless options to customise your fighters and sublime controls that can make even the greenest gamer like a wrestling pro, WWE ’13 is a blast whether you love or despise American wrestling, and is one of the most delirious multiplayer experiences around.