Preview

WWE '13 Preview (Xbox360)

Another year, another game based on men in pants. Thankfully for wrestling fans, the WWE license hasn't gone the way of the UFC, and remains firmly in THQ's grasp. After another decent addition to the franchise last year, what have the studio been working on this time round?

Getting hands on with the game, it's fair to say the in-ring proceedings haven't been altered a great deal. Pulling off moves is as simple as ever, letting you utilise an array of skills with ease. Specific body parts can be targeted, but for the most part, this doesn't really change the way you'll approach an encounter. It's certainly easier to break an opponent's will by constantly aiming for one limb, although veteran players will have been doing this for years anyway.

Stone Cold on a quad? A mini-game, perhaps...

More interestingly, this title will feature a huge roster made up of current superstars and Attitude Era greats. It sounds superficial, but the addition of classic wrestlers will attract plenty of new players. The Attitude Era was undoubtedly the WWE's finest moment, and during the '90s, helped propel the company to the global phenomenon it is today. The likes of Stone Cold and The Rock have appeared on previous games, but these are finally backed up with a complete roster from the time. THQ are keeping tight-lipped about the full list, but we managed to play a few matches with Mark Henry '98 and The Undertaker 97-98. Slightly different from their modern day characters, even this minimal access brought the memories flooding back.

That is something the developers are avidly set out to do. Special moves, known as 'Spectacular Moments', now arise during certain scenarios. This might be something as simple as pummelling your opponent through the announcer's table, or it might hold more nostalgic value. During our Undertaker-Mankind match up, the Hell in a Cell started to call out. If you're a wrestling fan, you'll know these three ingredients represent one of the sport's most historic moments, and I'm glad to say it can be recreated completely.

Other moments are just as impressive, and will have wrestling fans nodding in approval. The typical big man's match, Mark Henry vs The Big Show, can end just like it did on the television broadcast not too long ago. Atop the turnbuckle, if one of the juggernauts is suplexed from the top, the ring may burst under the pressure. Luckily, Spectacular Moments must be built up, and won't threaten to end every single match.

The Road to Wrestlemania, WWE's usual campaign mode, has now been replaced with Attitude Era storylines. This lets players follow actual events from the show through the eyes of the big players at the time. Instead of simply winning individual matches, various objectives must be completed in order to progress. Aside from this, the only other new match shown is the return of Special Referee. Not exactly much to get excited about here, although it is fun to screw over your friends with a fast count.

Mike Tyson is the pre-order bonus this time

Away from the ring, THQ are working hard to improve the input of the crowd. A new audio system sees soundbytes ripped from real broadcasts and implemented into the game. This includes crowd chants and responses, although it isn't clear just how well this works quite yet. Considering you're able to set fire to tables and throw enemies through the crowd barrier, it'll be great to hear a distinct reaction from those watching.

As ever, WWE '13 is looking thoroughly solid. The addition of the Attitude Era and Spectacular Moments is enough to get excited about at this early stage, but it does feel like there should be more to come. If the roster is fully-fleshed out, more than one generation of fans could be easily satisfied. Hopefully Mae Young is included, all games need a storyline where an OAP gives birth to a mannequin hand.

Top Gaming Moment: The addition of an Attitude Era roster is welcome.

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