WWE '13 Hands-On - My weekend at Summerslam '12
WWE '13 Hands-On - My weekend at Summerslam '12
One thing you could never accuse the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (or WWE) of is being subtle in any way shape or form. For several decades now the Vince McMahon led home of “sports entertainment” has done its darnedest to bring as much drama, excitement and sex appeal as is inhumanly possible and the ratings don’t lie. With every show a sell-out (in both senses of the word), merchandising booths every dozen or so metres and fans carrying slogan filled signs as tribute to their favourites or spewing venom at those they despise you get a real sense of what each Pay Per View event means to those that attend.
What’s more incredible is the scene that I just described wasn’t even at SummerSlam ’12, the highlight of a recent first look and hands-on session with WWE ’13. This elaborate production was merely the announcement of the game’s roster. Ambulances and Fire Trucks flanked each side of a gated section outside Los Angeles’ famous Staples Center. Fans roared with each new name included. Huge metal towers with massive video screens encapsulated the area. Yep, there was going to be nothing subtle about the next few jam-packed WWE ’13 filled days and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The next stop on this rollercoaster ride was The Grammy Theatre for a hands-off demonstration and press conference as “ The Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay and his lovely pair of Funkadactyls Naomi and Cameron turned up the heat with some sexified dance moves. With a now warmed up crowd Cory Ledesma (Creative Director of WWE ’13) kicked off proceedings. The key word of his address was “new”- new mechanics, new options, new modes of play, new creation tools, pretty much new every damned thing.
This was a revamped and remodelled WWE ’13 aiming to give gamers the largest roster ever with over 100 playable wrestlers once all the DLC has dropped. There are deeper creation tools to help you model your own WWE arena like never before. You can adjust venue sizes and alter stage designs with every template available from all the Pay Per View events at your disposal. Mix and match colours, add or remove elements, chose what shows on the jumbotron, set the lighting, apron and even change the barricades, hell, you can even modify the crowd type. Developer Yuke’s wants to deliver the most immersive and realistic wrestling extravaganza as well as showcase the biggest and most memorable events in WWE history and it begins with The Attitude Era.
For those not steeped in wrestling folklore scratching their heads right now, allow me to spin you a tale. Tales of a mighty battle for ratings between two wrestling families the WWE (then known as WWF) and the WCW. Monday nights were the staging ground as the two titans WWF Monday Night Raw and WCW Monday Nitro went head to head. The WWF started losing ground to WCW and radically remodelled its programming in a ratings push moving from more family friendly entertainment to capture a younger and edgier audience.
To this end a wrestling rivalry was born between the workmanlike anti-hero Stone Cold Steve Austin and members of D-Generation X. DX were a crew of loud mouth upstarts with members the likes of Rick Rude, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, Triple H and even Iron Mike Tyson, to name a few. They were rebellious, crude and aimed to offend. This marked a pivotal moment in the WWF as wrestlers bucked the previous trends of the sport and openly defied owner Vince McMahon. It proved to be a ratings bonanza and now you are finally able to re-enacting some of these amazing moments exactly as they happened. Cory Ledesma pointed out this is something the fans have been demanding for some time now and Yuke’s was pleased to make it happen.
After showing a few key moments to whet the appetite (which I’ll elaborate on in the hands-on a little later on), he punctuated his point by introducing a selection of new and old school wrestlers. Attendees included Brodus Clay, Sheamus, Iron Mike Tyson and current WWE champion CM Punk, all drawcards to be sure. But the crowd really let loose when Stone Cold Steve Austin made his way onto the stage.
The love for Stone Cold was something else as the living legend offered stories of his struggle from obscurity to superstar. He elaborated on the difficulties of finding a persona that was the right fit, his desire for more airtime and discussions to that effect with Vince McMahon in the parking lot after events. He also mentioned that this press conference was the first time Mike Tyson had actually gotten his name right, having called him “Cold Stone” for the entire duration of his time with D-Generation X. He was a class act and definitely had me amped to jump onto a waiting console afterwards and take the new Attitude Era mode for a spin. Fittingly, of the eight stars available in the hands-on demo, Stone Cold was the only playable character.
While following the Austin 3:16 storyline I had the chance to play three matches at various points in his career, one against the Road Dogg Billy Gunn, one against Shawn Michaels (with Tyson as an ‘enforcer’) and a final match against Dude Love. Each match came with certain objectives to complete as well as a Historical Bonus Objective if you won in the exact same circumstances as they occurred. It conveyed a real sense of drama as each lengthy cut scene introduction (made of actual footage) to each bout more than fittingly set the stage. There were even ratings statistics to see exactly how the WWF and WCW were stacking up at the time. The attention to detail was impressive.
The dynamic camera followed all the action in and outside of the ring, with meticulous detail to each actual event including recreated announcers’ commentary from original live feed and even the crowd sounds. The interface was Spartan as not to distract from the action unfolding. Icons flickered above my opponent’s head when opportunities for reversals or finishers arose. The window was extremely short so be prepared to be quick on the trigger to pull these off.
Momentum played a large part with a decent pace necessary otherwise you’ll be on the other end of a three-count. There were plenty of chances for outside of the ring shenanigans with a slew of new abilities to smash into and through the crowd barricades, perform mid-air finishers, edge of the ring face rakes and the return of announcer table finishers. There’s sharper hit detection as well with each blow carrying with it the appropriate weight.
You’d think that with a limited selection of strikes, grapples, Irish whips and submissions (each taking up one face button) WWE ’13 would be a button masher’s delight, but you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Timing is absolutely crucial. I missed several opportunities to wrap each match up quickly and sorely paid for each mistake. Your opponents are no slouches and capitalise on most foolish mistakes you make.
Once I’d suitably loosened up Billy Gunn I had two historical objectives. I failed miserably at the “Win in under two minutes” one. I didn’t even come close. I’ll leave that to resident fight and wrestling champ Joaby. I found the second a lot easier. After a few corner kicks to the mid-section and some punches to the face for good measure I Irish Whipped him into the ropes. After a decapitating clothesline, I picked up the groggy bastard, kicked him in the stomach and performed a Stone Cold Stunner (objective complete) and pinned him before he knew what hit him. I was one step closer to helping Stone Cold achieve his dream of a WWF title and I felt completely invested - and even a little bit sad - as I bid farewell to the session and hung up my controller.
With the work part of the trip done and dusted all I made my way to the VIP section of the Staples Center. Joining games writers from around the world in the WWE suite we buckled up for SummerSlam ’12 in the best seats in the house. I sat in awe as the capacity filled arena erupted. It shook with every punch, kick and hold. I watched Rey Mysterio get his arse handed to him. I saw CM Punk defend his title against Big Show and John Cena in a triple threat match. I bore witness to Brock Lesnar’s triumphant return from the UFC as he submitted Triple H with a vicious Kimora and I loved every minute of it.
I knew what I was seeing was scripted and, dare I say it, so did most in attendance, but do you know what? None of us cared in the slightest. That’s what the WWE is all about, delivering a spectacle. If Yuke’s manage to harness even the tiniest amount of it and funnel it into WWE ’13 you’re going to get the most authentic and realistic sports entertainment experience around and that’s the bottom line…
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Wed 05 Sep 12, 5:44pmSWEATYGREMLINS
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