CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The late 1990s and early 2000s was unquestionably the golden age of modern professional wrestling. With Vince McMahon's WWE(F) going head-to-head with Ted Turner's WCW every Monday night and legendary characters like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock being introduced to the world, the sights and sounds of that period helped elevate pro wrestling to never-before-seen heights.
Specific moments from that Attitude Era, as it is known, have become ingrained in the conscience of today's WWE Universe - the Montreal screw job, Undertaker tossing Mankind off the top of Hell in Cell, Austin hosing McMahon down with a beer truck, the formation of Degeneration X, the I Quit match between The Rock and Mankind inside an empty arena during halftime of the Super Bowl, etc. - but there are plenty of fans who never got a chance to experience those historic moments.
For these unfortunate souls, as well as those simply wanting to take a testosterone-fueled trip down memory lane, the Attitude Era is alive and well in THQ's "WWE 13."
Replacing what had become a disappointing Road to Wrestlemania mode in recent years, the Attitude Era mode in "WWE 13" is a series of matches centered on some of that period's most electrifying superstars such as D-X, Austin and the Undertaker. Excellent video packages and commentary from Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler help provide context for these matches, and a ratings timeline displays how these events impacted the Monday Night wars. Matches feature both primary and secondary objectives, but progressing through the mode requires only winning each bout.
The Attitude Era mode is a big addition to "WWE 13," but it is the refined gameplay that makes this the best pro wrestling game to date.
The marketing campaign may be inviting gamers to "Live the Revolution" in "WWE 13," but it was "WWE 12" that truly revolutionized the franchise with a new gameplay engine built around what developer Yukes dubbed Predator Technology. "WWE 13" builds upon this with Predator Tech 2.0, which adds subtle touches like weight detection, more than 300 new moves, a contextual animation system that chooses the best move for a given situation, and better hit detection. More significant additions to gameplay include the ability to select from three different match types that affect both the length and flow of contests and Spectacular Moments such as spearing an opponent through the barricade or collapsing the ring from a superplex involving super-heavyweights.
The gameplay in "WWE 13" is smooth and fluid, giving the game a much more realistic pace than past entries in the series. Damage could be better represented as I still see too many guys fall from a ladder or through a table and then bounce right back up. And there seems to be an odd glitch that causes AI opponents to kick out of pin attempts after a one count. Regardless, neither of these issues has taken away from the sheer enjoyment I've had with "WWE 13."
While the Attitude Era mode is rightfully the centerpiece of the "WWE 13" experience, it isn't the only option for gamers looking to climb into the virtual squared circle.
Universe Mode is back and better than ever, offering more flexibility than last year's debut effort. Designed to be a sandbox for gamers to live out their wrestling fantasies, Universe Mode lets users customize the WWE experience to their liking. Everything from rosters and titles to the shows on the schedule can be edited to suit your desires. While this is essentially what "WWE 12" offered, Universe Mode raises the bar with enhancements like branching storylines, the ability to eliminate superstars from competing for minor titles and the freedom to control aspects of the story that proved problematic last year. The Attitude Era mode showcases the WWE's past, but Universe Mode lets gamers write its future.