Why I’m looking forward to WWE 13

Craig Wilson

It’s been a while since I’ve mused about computer games on this blog but with more and more information being released about WWE 13 then it’s time to end that break.

Now, the more regular, and long-term, readers amongst you will remember me being quite critical of WWE 12 ultimately believing that whilst it certainly could talk the talk, it failed when it came to the walking part. That said, as someone that enjoys wrestling games and regularly reminisces on this blog about wrestling days of old, a game featuring stars from the Attitude era is all very exciting.

The idea of being able to create CM Punk’s dream match of him against Stone Cold or seeing how well The New Age Outlaws and The Road Warriors would do in the current tag team division is stuff of dreams for an anorak such as myself.

Of course, the internet has been full of gripes over wrestlers missing from the roster – as is expected – as well as the inclusion of three HHH’s and Mick Foley’s as well as two of The Undertaker, Kane, The Rock, Cena (?!), Edge, Bradshaw, Mark Henry and Jericho but internet gripes will be internet gripes. That said, the latter one is quite surprising considering it would be much easier to merely include alternative costumes… Anyway. I digress.

This is by far the best roster of any WWE game I’ve ever seen. It can be viewed in all its glory here. That’s 80 wrestlers straight off the bat with DLC taking the figure to nearer the 100 mark. Certainly the thing I most look forward to in the game, as I do with most WWE games and that led to a certain degree of disappointment with the last one, is the story mode. This time around it’s an Attitude Era storyline where we choose one of eight superstars that were pivotal in the success of that era, including The Rock, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, as we get to recreate some of their most magical moments including Stone Cold toppling HBK at Wrestlemania 14. I, for one, cannot wait to tackle some of these storylines.

Sure, the engine on the last game wasn’t all that great but Yukes will know that the next incarnation of games consoles is right around the corner so will be saving themselves for that. That said, my gripe with WWE 12 wasn’t the engine or the wrestlers contained within the game, instead it was the very limited story line mode which had previously been bettered by many of the Raw v Smackdown games.

Judging by the ten or so videos on the THQ site linked above, the entrances are as top notch as ever with the graphics having received nothing more than a slight tweaking, rather than a radical overhaul. That said, I am genuinely excited about this game from the ability to recreate some of the magical moments from the late 90s era to creating dream matches between PG superstars and their Attitude era adversaries. I hope that this game lives up to its hype and if the roster is anything to go by, this game will be sensational. The last one failed to walk the walk though, I hope this one fares better in that regard.

Plus it’s got Bret Hart on it.

Book review: Pure Dynamite: The Autobiography of Tom ‘Dynamite Kid’ Billington

Having reviewed the Death of the WCW previously, I thought it was time to dig another wrestling related book from my bookshelf and review it for you guys. This time it’s the autobiography of Tom Billington, better known as the Dynamite Kid and one half of the British Bulldogs with the late Davie Boy Smith.

Pure Dynamite gives wrestling fans an incredible look at the life and career of one half of the British Bulldogs wrestling team from the early to late 1980’s. Billington gives a warts and all account of how he first became interested in wrestling, the highs and lows along the way and discussed in detail how he ended up ultimately broke and crippled.

The Dynamite Kid was without question one of the most talented in-ring wrestlers ever and certainly one of the most influential. He talks quite openly about his drug abuse and steroid use as he sought to “roid up” in order to counter the threat of the bigger men that were involved in wrestling at that time. This aspect is one of the most interesting parts of the book as it gives great detail on the drug abuse that plagued wrestling at the time whilst also highlighting the perceived need for the smaller wrestlers to bulk themselves up.

The bulk of the top names of that period in wrestling are mentioned with some being described in a good whilst others are unflatteringly discussed in detail. Billington is quite happy to say if he liked someone outside of the ring, but didn’t rate them in the ring and vice versa. The breakup of the Bulldogs partnership is covered at length and the bitterness between himself and his cousin Davey Boy Smith that was never resolved.

This is without doubt one of the best wrestling biographies around. He pulls absolutely no punches when talking about the business and doesn’t at all try to blame others for his condition now. Regarded by many current wrestlers as the best performer they have ever seen, he tells the reader all about the rewards he reaped while a top name in the industry and also the pitfalls that awaited him as he focussed on his career including the downfall of his marriage, the squandering of his money and the steriod and drug abuse that have left him in a wheelchair.

The laid back conversational style of the book make it seem like the author is telling you the stories to your face which leaves you laughing along at the countless funny stories or shaking your head in disbelief at the tragedies and mishaps throughout his career.

If you are interested in the darker unseen side of the American Professional wrestling industry, then this book is a must read. Although very short in comparison to others, coming in at just over 200 pages, it will keep you engrossed and tells one of the most interesting, and tragic, wrestling stories.

Why WWE12 was a letdown

As well as being a huge wrestling fan, am a massive gamer. A combination that doesn’t mark me out as one of the coolest kids so perhaps this post may end up being therapeutic!

I used to religiously purchase WWE games, first one being Royal Rumble for the SNES and I virtually had everyone, including a few WCW titles, until Raw v Smackdown 2005 when I drifted briefly out of gaming. On purchasing my XBOX 360 in 2011, I began buying wrestling games against starting with Legends of Wrestlemania – average and WWE Allstars – very fun in an arcade-esque butting bashing way.

Therefore, I was quite excited about the release of WWE12 after reading, in the thought of buying, reviews of some of the latter Raw v Smackdown titles which sounded like they had run out of steam. After being billed as “Bigger, badder, better” this sounded like it would be a change in fortunes. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case.

This game is severely let down by the storyline mode which, not to put too much of a gloss on it – after all, the rest of the game doesn’t – is brutally dull. The career mode is 12 plus hours long yet is without doubt the most uninteresting part of the game. This mode is split into three acts, the first of which sees the player assuming the role of the villainous Sheamus. The second act is centered around the heroic Triple H and the final act features the player taking control of a created superstar named Jacob Cass. The main flaw is how boring the mode is as well as how limited the options are. There are 6 different career options available on Raw v Smackdown 2009 yet only 3 in this one.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things on the game. There are plenty of superstars, including a power of legends – including Demolition, which pleased me and many different match types. This is great if you’re just after an arcade style beat ‘em up or playing against people online. However, I love the career mode aspect of WWE games and this one is bitterly disappointing.

WWE 12’s presentation is very hit or miss. The collision engine looks fine in some instances, whereas in other it looks over the top and outlandish. The faces of many of the wrestlers are closer to their real-life counterparts than ever before, but the skin of many of the superstars looks like mannequins. From a distance, the wrestling animations, beat-downs and finishing moves look great. However, the crowd noises occasionally cut out and the in-game commentary is sometimes out of synch.

If Yukes can build on this for next year’s title then it could create the ‘bigger, badder, better’ game it had hoped to make this time around. Everything is there really, it needs to remove some of the flaws and improve the career mode and then there will be a top game in the series. I look forward to the next edition. WWE 12 is certainly bigger it’s just I’m very unsure if it is badder and better. You’d be better off buying a game from the Raw v Smackdown series which you’ll probably get quite cheap second hand.

Book Review: Death of WCW

What with it being World Book Day and all, I thought what better way to celebrate the day than with a book review. It was between two books: Bret Hart’s autobiography and the Wrestlecrap book ‘The Death of WCW’. Having read the latter more recently I plumped for that. However, having met Bret Hart at a book signing upon the release of his autobiography, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a post on that sooner or later.

Anyway, I digress. On to the first, and hopefully not the last, wrestling related book review on this blog.

Other than a brief flirtation with watching WCW at the beginning of the 90s, I was never much of a fan of the company and dedicated much of my wrestling viewing, and subsequently the majority of the posts on this blog so far, to the WWF/E but there is no denying how much of a story there is in the rise, and eventual, death of World Championship Wrestling from its heyday in winning the Monday night wars to being sold to Vince McMahon on the cheap. This book wonderfully details this spectacular rise and remarkable fall from grace.

The beginning of the book is very slow and a touch on the boring side detailing the history of the organisation. It’s difficult not to describe this section as coming across as quite academic but much to the credit of the two authors, R.D. Reynolds (the creator of the wonderful Wrestlecrap.com) and Bryan Alvarez (editor of Figure Four Weekly), this section is kept on the short side.

While you can argue that the history of the post-Crockett NWA and early WCW is unimportant to the story that is being covered in this book, it is a helpful way of setting the scene for what is to come. So what did happen to the company that won the Monday night wars – Nitro (WCW) v Raw (WWE/F) for 84 weeks in a row and nearly put Vince McMahon out of business? Well, after having 160 competitors on its books at one point and being able to pay more than the WWE in order to sign some of their top superstars, the WCW lost £65m in one year and was eventually sold to Vince McMahon for a mere £3m.

Such a downfall really seems absurd, but this book goes into detail about what brought about the demise of WCW and it’s an enthralling journey. Written by two of the greatest minds in wrestling journalism, Brian Alvarez of Figure Four Weekly and Randy “The Real Deal” Renyolds, this book goes into detail about the what went wrong at WCW towers. Readers learn what went on behind the scenes, including the changes in backstage booking, the bad decisions that were made and where the blame should be placed. The book allows the reader to relive this era in wrestling-an era that started out great, but due to the stupidity of some people involved was really doomed from the start. You learn about what the top superstars are like backstage and how the politics affected the company. You find out about the many mistakes made by Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo in running the company and writing for it respectively.

A lot of the details in the book are quite well known to those that follow wrestling but the interviews are great and it is quite incredible really that even all these years after the downfall of WCW, some of the parties involved still refuse to accept any blame for WCWs downfall. What an excellent, and hilarious, book this is. Even for the casual wrestling fan, there’s something for you to enjoy here.