It is typical for sports video games to come out on a yearly basis such as Madden (NFL), NHL, NBA, MLB and so on. This is also the case for sports entertainment or pro wrestling. The WWE (formerly World Wrestling Federation) has come out with a yearly game for about 15 years now over several generations of systems, not to mention games prior to that on a semi regular basis. In their history of being involved with video games, they have spanned from the original NES and Game Boy to today with the PS3, Xbox 360 & Wii with licensing companies LJN, Acclaim & THQ making games for them.
I grew up on video games and also grew up watching pro wrestling. And just like any genre of video games, there have been some good pro wrestling video games and some not good ones. I still remember WWF War Zone, WWF Attitude and the first Smackdown game for the Playstation along with WWF No Mercy on the N64 as the best video games when I was in high school and into college to play. I would list those as the best wrestling video games that I’ve played.
Fast forward, I have (for the most part) played (and owned) most of the yearly games that THQ has come out with on the PS2 & PS3 (in the Smackdown vs. Raw series) and they in a lot of ways have been comparable to Madden. How so? Well, they come out yearly, there are a few tweaks here and there and the graphics are updated with a few leaps in advancement every 4 or 5 years.
The WWE & THQ did do some advancement when they rebranded their video game franchise last year WWE ’12 (see, similar to other sports video games) and some of the design and gameplay. WWE ’12 was better than some of the previous versions but I wouldn’t say it was a standout game.
Now, we are coming to the release of the newest version, WWE ’13 at the end of the month. And this game could potentially be that wresting game in a generation. How is that? Two words: Attitude Era. For those that know pro wrestling, the Attitude Era is the name of a timeframe from about late 1996-2001 when there was a huge rivalry going on between the World Wrestling Federation & World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Out of this came the Monday Night Wars as both companies had competing shows on Monday nights and were battling it out. Wrestlers would switch companies and for a time WCW was winning the “war”. Out of this, the WWF changed their storylines and characters such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Mankind (among others) helped usher in a new “attitude” and with it the Attitude Era, probably (along with the late 1980s) the most popular the company was.
WWE’13 is bringing back the Attitude Era in their story mode. In previous games, their story mode involved the “Road to Wrestlemania”, where several wrestlers were selected for “new” storylines that led their characters to their “Wrestlemania moment”. This year THQ has scrapped that for the Attitude Era, in which players can relieve the Attitude Era storylines including Stone Cold Steve Austin, D-Generation X, The Rock, Undertaker & Mankind and more. In playing this storyline, there are unlockables such as characters, items & videos from the era. The Attitude Era mode also includes recreated commentary from Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler, the two commentators from that time period. Plus if you preorder the game, you get to play as the “Baddest Man on the Planet” Iron Mike Tyson (who played a role in the Attitude Era in early 1998).
For that alone, it could be on par with those games on the original Playstation & N64 but it also has the roster of today, the “Spectacular Moments (such as throwing an opponent off the top of the cell, through a barricade & even having the ring collapse), the ever popular Create a Wrestler & Create an Arena and more.
I have my preorder already in and look forward to October 30th and the release of the game. If you’re a fan of wrestling (especially back in the day) and a video game fan, I would recommend the game and getting the chance to “Live the Revolution.”
Michael Burgett is a frequent contributor to the JustUs Geeks podcast and has been a guest host. You can find him online on Twitter as @michaelburgett and at his blog, http://www.reflectionsonsports.blogspot.com/