WWE 13 preview - First hands-on

Similar to the popular Road to WrestleMania campaigns of the past, Attitude Era is a single-player adventure through the late ‘90s glory days. You replay matches and recreate moments in the careers of icons like Shawn Michaels, Mankind, and The Rock. We played a chunk of Stone Cold’s story, first recreating his transformative match at WrestleMania XIV against Shawn Michaels with Mike Tyson on the sidelines. Like last year’s campaigns, the match had important moments to recreate with a well-timed press of a button, such as beating Shawn with a Stone Cold Stunner. Yet it’s entirely optional to winning the match, something many wanted in WWE 12’s story mode.

Attitude Era is filled with these kinds of little historic moments to give your matches some added spice (and unlock extras). We witnessed that in the second classic match, Stone Cold’s first title defense against Dude Love, but they don’t all work so well the first go-round. As we focused on pinning Dude Love, the optional objectives popped up, but it was fairly unclear what we were supposed to do since we’d forgotten the important moments of this 14-year-old fight. The descriptions of the objectives were a little vague, leading to some frustration on our part. Hopefully the goals will be clearer in the retail version.

Outside of the late ‘90s nostalgia and improved engine, it’s worth mentioning that WWE 13 boasts an expanded Create-an-Arena mode. Your choices for making a custom ring have greatly expanded: you can now change the size of the arena, the type of audience, intro music, and even customize the entrance areas. The more hardcore contingent of WWE gamers usually appreciate when THQ deepens the creation tools like this, though it remains to be seen if similar expansions are in store for Create-a-Superstar or Create-a-Finisher.

At this point, we’re used to Yuke’s and THQ at least incrementally improving WWE games with each new entry, if not outright rebooting the franchise. Mechanically, WWE 13 appears to be about adjustment instead of starting from scratch, but the campaign is a different story entirely. Older fans will no doubt appreciate the nostalgia for the Attitude Era, and if you’re the type to pick up WWE games for their single-player, the addition of this likely dense campaign is certainly welcome. Whether you’re a fan of CM Punk or Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWE 13 looks to be the most hardcore series entry in sometime.

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.