Ditching the SmackDown vs. Raw title, last year's
Authentic ringside showdowns explode with all of the testosterone-laden bombast and roaring crowd enthusiasm of the real deal. Pyrotechnics, boisterous announcers, and grand entrance sequences do a great job of setting the stage for each brutal matchup. When it comes down to trading actual blows, WWE '13 sticks closely to last year's fast-paced formula, which is a good thing. The same simplified controls conveniently map strikes, grapples, Irish whips, and special moves to individual buttons, making it easy to pull off maneuvers and deliver awesome-looking move sequences without struggling to remember elaborate combos.
Your attack moves also vary depending on your position and how much punishment you've dealt to your opponent. Despite the fact you're a burly dude clobbering the snot out of other burly dudes, there's a certain grace to the ebb and flow of matches as the advantage shifts back and forth between wrestlers. The excitement builds once the sweat starts flying: wrestlers show injuries and fatigue, and the action ratchets up to its peak with wilder signature moves. New "Spectacular Moments" add to this frenzied energy by letting you dish out elaborate finishers like smashing opponents through the announcers' table, hurling them through barricades, and breaking the ring itself. They're a thrill to pull off, and make you feel even more badass than usual.
Most of the other wrestling gameplay improvements are subtle, but they make a real difference. WWE '13's action feels tighter and more cohesive than last year's revamp. Though not all of the visual bugs are squashed, there are far fewer problems that interrupt the flow of combat. Transitions between moves are animated more smoothly, and airborne maneuvers connect with greater precision, boosting the realism of matches. This is a big improvement from some of the more jarring visual transitions in last year's matches.
This time around the reversal system is a lot more forgiving too, which solves one of the more aggravating conundrums of WWE '12. You still need quick reflexes to time your blocks and turn opponents' attacks against them, but there's enough wiggle room now on the default settings that you won't feel like you're being put through the meat grinder the second you're caught unprepared--unless you want a steeper challenge, that is. When you do miss, an onscreen indicator tells you whether you're too early or too late, instead of leaving you frustrated and guessing as to why you're getting getting your face bashed in. This helps to improve your timing so you can better anticipate when your next opportunity to break your adversary's attack chain will arise.