Wrestling fans have a love/hate relationship with WWE games. We love playing in Vince McMahon's sandbox, but we are never satisfied with their breadth of features. For every step forward, we take two steps back.
WWE '13 is, on the surface, a leap forward—it's got exploding rings, collapsible barricades and a massive roster. They've even brought Special Guest Referee matches back.
For all this wide-eyed optimism, though, there remains a sense of cautious doubt. The franchise has burned us on an annual basis for years, and these games don't come cheap.
Which match types have been cut in this installment? Which elements of interactivity have they stripped from the environment—taunting from the top rope, putting opponents through the announcer's tables? Will the wrestlers even be able to bleed?
In addition to the 10 things I wanted back in January, here's a wish list of features I'm praying for when WWE '13 drops on October 30th.
Crowd noise is tricky for developers.
Wrestling fans do more than just "ooh" and clap when we go to shows. We're incredibly nuanced, with signature chants and cheap pops. Thus, programming an engine that recognizes in-ring storytelling and organic momentum shifts (and works in tandem with commentary tracks) seems impossible.
It very well might be during this generation of consoles, but this franchise has been around long enough—there's enough real life precedent—that THQ has no excuse for being inattentive to the crowd.
The enthusiasm of an audience can mean the success or failure of a wrestling match. (Ask Brock Lesnar and Goldberg about their experience at WrestleMania.) It stands to reason that a more intuitive audience (one filled with "Yes!" and "Let's Go Cena/Cena Sucks" chants) would elevate game play to a level it's never been before.
Developers have mentioned this in interviews, that they're working on crowd intensity and volume, but we're not getting the best game possible until we (the fans) are given our rightful place as part of the game's environment.
Fans would back a dump truck full of money onto THQ's front porch if they continually released new episodes of story content via DLC.
It makes sense for three reasons:
One, fans want to relive their favorite stories.
Two, packaging downloadable Legends or Superstars with related "side quests" featuring that character would boost sales and excitement.
And, three, new story content would be cheap to develop and could be published every week to keep the community coming back and players saying, "You know, we're really getting our money's worth this year."
One of my constant gripes is how Created Superstars and downloaded content are presented, in a single space at either end of the character select screen.
I realize that real estate on a player's screen is valuable, a larger spread looks more impressive, and this is an idiosyncratic twitch, but I also played wrestling games on Nintendo 64 and loved how characters were laid out on pages.
Pages felt more organic, less overwhelming. They could be customized using personal criteria such as preference or stables (real and imagined), and they would give Created and DLC Superstars equal footing with their more prominent core character counterparts—because sometimes, yes, your lusty yeti vampire C.A.W. deserves more of the spotlight.
Also: If you're asking people to download new costumes for existing characters, don't make those costumes entirely different characters. It's wonky when Undertaker is fighting Undertaker in Universe mode.
My biggest pet peeve in WWE games is running out during a Royal Rumble, getting double-teamed and dumped over the top rope before I have a chance to throw a single punch.
Rumble mechanics have been broken for a long time, yet it seems like an easy fix.
Players could earn finishers twice as fast and could only be eliminated by a situational finisher, or two signatures when being double-teamed, or mini-games that favored fresher entrants.
This method levels the playing field while still allowing authentic "instant eliminations" (because it does happen in real wrestling), and it gives developers incentive to create a whole new set of cool elimination animations.
Created Superstars almost always have lame ring introductions, due entirely to the limited number of names available for announcing.
While "Crusher" and "the Hardcore Legend" are good standbys, the fact that there's not more audio available and that we can't mix and match words for first and last names is a bit disheartening.
How come developers don't include the names of every WWE Hall of Famer, even if they're not in the game? The community would surely create them. Would more names really take up that much memory? Why don't they release more ring names with DLC?
Jeremiah Allan is a sometimes comic book writer, 2009 graduate of Ottawa University (Ottawa, Kan.) with a BA in English and senior staff writer at Wormwood: a Serialized Mystery. Check out the article archive for more of his work.