WWE '13 Review (Xbox360)

THQ doesn't know what to do with its WWE license. Last year's overhaul looked to be setting the franchise on a new road to glory. While refreshing, WWE '12 suffered from minor irritations and a lack of worthwhile content. The focus for this year's title should have been simple.

It seems the developer doesn't listen. Instead of honing the progress of its predecessor, this title looks to veil stunted growth with an ambitious roster. The Attitude Era is an exciting addition, but it doesn't hide fundamental problems.

Attitude storylines relive key moments from WWE's long history

Anyone who has played the previous games will feel immediately at home here. Moves are easy to execute - whether you're brawling, grappling or diving off the top rope. Wrestlers snap into animation with decent flow, allowing you to naturally sustain a string of attacks and momentum. The easiest way of eliminating an opponent's health seemed to be with running moves. Many send your rival to the mat, where they'll be ready to receive a submission manoeuvre or some kicks to the head. I found this offensive route to be extremely helpful when dealing with more than one foe, as it allows a quick change of target and the element of surprise.

Reversals are once again utilised through a push of the right trigger. Most moves can be turned to your favour, although successful reversal timing never seems to be universal. This was also a problem last year, so it's disappointing to see nothing has been done to improve a vital portion of each duel.

Finishers are still received when you've gained enough momentum. OMG Moments have been added, allowing you to recreate memorable scenes from the WWE history books. Think Mankind's Hell in a Cell fall, Big Show/Mark Henry's ring destruction (that sounds naughty), and no, Mae Young giving birth to a plastic hand isn't included. It's great to see such moments brought into the game, as players have often longed to recreate the organisations finest memories. If the conditions are right, the opportunity will arise. Perform them once or twice and the excitement begins to wane.

WWE '13 would be far more exciting if it allowed you to create your own moments of history. THQ has often let players prepare their own move lists before a match, but the series needs more. Players should be able to act on the spur of the moment. If the set could be manipulated beyond putting slabs of meat through tables and crowd barriers, it'd give users something to talk about.

WWE Universe may be the toolbox for personal dreams to come true, but it's the level of interactivity in each match that needs to be improved upon. This mode returns with little change. You'll still be able to take control of everything WWE, just like the previous two years.

Bret screwed Bret, didn't he?

Interestingly, THQ decided to get rid of its Road to Wrestlemania storylines. This is where the Attitude Era steps up. You must recreate key moments from 1997-present day, taking on the role of superstars including DX, Bret Hart and The Rock. Classic matches and themes are represented well, although wrestling aficionados will take offence to an occasional lack of detail.

Audio clips taken from old broadcasts perk up commentary, although the rest descends into the usual nonsense. A Frankenstein creature is created through a mixture of real conversations and one-liners performed in a studio. The same one-liners we've experienced for years. I simply cannot believe THQ think it's a good idea to stick with an identical script for another round.

Plenty of unlockables will be won if you adhere to objectives throughout your Attitude Era matches. You might be tasked with inflicting a certain amount of damage on an opponent before getting disqualified, or other simple challenges. It's a decent way of focusing the player's attention to various aspects of an encounter, and manages to keep things interesting for the most part.

The standard WWE presentation style has been put to use here. Video clips play at every opportunity, reminding us of exciting moments from the show. Wrestlers generally look like their counterparts, although one or two are absolute monstrosities. The individual ratings of today's superstars have improved massively so they can compete with legends from the Attitude Era. Many scores are highly generous and shouldn't be considered too seriously.

Oh look, current superstars too

Online play remains enticing, if a little underwhelming. Any sort of lag will ruin your experience, although WWE '13 doesn't suffer from the crippling problems of last year. Multiplayer is a great platform for coming up against created wrestlers, especially when content can be easily shared this time. It's time THQ started looking at the potential for WWE's competitive play. An overhaul in the style of FIFA Ultimate Team could rejuvenate multiplayer in a huge way. Anybody up for an online 'WWE Ultimate Legends' mode?

It's difficult to determine whether or not WWE '13 represents progress. The fleshed out roster is a real bonus, although it'll be interesting to see if Attitude Era superstars are included in the next game. The single-player is better placed than last year's attempt. THQ have so much room to improve both solo and multiplayer. After last year's encouraging switch-up, the developer hasn't done enough to iron out encounters in the ring. A little imagination would go a long way with WWE's next instalment. You know it.

Top Gaming Moment: The addition of the Attitude Era is great for reliving memories.

Platform Played: Xbox 360