In advance of THQ's highly anticipated roster reveal at SummerSlam Axxess Saturday, Aug. 18, and the forthcoming release of WWE '13 on Oct. 30, WWE.com presents an exclusive interview with THQ's Cory Ledesma, the creative director on the WWE Games team, about what you can expect from this year's revolutionary video game release.
WWE.COM: What is the biggest difference between this year's game and last year's, in terms of gameplay?
CORY LEDESMA: We are embarking on our second year utilizing Predator Technology™. This new technology is so powerful that we've only just started tapping into its full potential. "WWE '13" continues to build upon the foundation created last year, and we are proud to report that gameplay is even more responsive, fluid and engaging than ever before. Fans of the series can expect to see the smoothest gameplay experience ever in "WWE '13."
WWE.COM: What is "WWE Live"? How does it enhance "WWE '13"?
LEDESMA: "WWE Live" is a complete audio and presentation experience that we are creating in "WWE '13." It's an experience fans have never seen or heard before in a WWE game. Our new "Spectacular Moments" allows gamers to recreate some of the most awe-inspiring moments ever seen in a WWE ring, such as when Big Show superplexed Mark Henry at WWE Vengeance last year, causing the entire ring to collapse. Other examples are when Mark Henry slammed Sheamus right through the crowd barrier at SummerSlam — also last year — and even when The Undertaker famously sent Mankind flying off the top of the Hell in a Cell cage and through the announcer table back in 1998. All these "Spectacular Moments" are also backed up with a new audio experience that makes you feel as if you are at a raucous, live WWE event — hence the name "WWE Live"!
WWE.COM: Let's talk about the audio in "WWE '13." Can you elaborate on what's new?
LEDESMA: We are overhauling our audio systems in "WWE '13" and introducing several new sound effects, crowd sounds and commentary calls. The objective was to make this the best and most authentic sounding WWE game ever. Many of the new sounds that we are implementing in the game come directly from WWE television, making the audio experience truly authentic. Improving the audio experience in WWE Games is an investment we're not only making for "WWE '13," but also continuing into the future. With roughly 30,000 lines of commentary, "WWE '13" is bursting at the seams with new audio content. Over the next three years, the goal is to have a world-class audio experience.
WWE.COM: "WWE '13" uses the Predator Tech 2.0 engine, which brings a lot of advancements. What changes took place to make this your smoothest gameplay ever?
LEDESMA: We've continued enhancing the animation system by introducing several new features, such as contextual animations, weight detection and automatic attack homing. We've also added more than 300 new moves to the game. All of these new advancements to the animation engine help create a smoother and more satisfying game experience. The contextual animation system dynamically swaps out moves to always ensure the game is playing the appropriate move animations at any given time and in any given state. The new weight detection system prevents smaller WWE Superstars from lifting up the giants of WWE by dynamically swapping out their lift moves for more appropriate attacks. The automatic attack homing system helps make "WWE '13" the most responsive game experience to date. When performing any strike, grapple, dive attack or springboard in the game, the homing system will ensure you always hit your intended target with laser precision. The homing system can also track surrounding tables, allowing you to perform ladder grapple attacks that heat-seek the nearest table for ultimate destruction.
WWE.COM: The "Spectacular Moments" feature sounds really cool. What did the team do to make these moments feel epic?
LEDESMA: The actual moments inspired from the great athletes in WWE are already so epic in their own right; our goal was to be as close to matching what you see on television to what you see in "WWE '13." We've spent a lot of time emulating the same great camera angles you will find on WWE television. We've also recorded brand-new commentary lines from Michael Cole, Jerry "The King" Lawler and Jim Ross that are specific to "Spectacular Moments." The commentators were able to watch the in-game moments in the recording studio and then ad-lib their own commentary lines to the action, which really gives the moments a truly authentic feel. Lastly, we made sure the crowds erupt in excitement once these amazing moments are pulled off, so you can feel the frenzied atmosphere of a live WWE crowd.
WWE.COM: How about "Catching Finishers"? What are they, and who can perform them?
LEDESMA: As any WWE Superstar knows, you never want to leave yourself in a vulnerable position, and flying through the air is one of the most vulnerable positions in WWE. In "WWE '13," if you're not careful, and you jump off the top rope or perform a springboard attack when your opponent has a finisher move stored, you could end up being caught in a devastating "Catching Finisher." Just the other day, I was playing as "WWE '13" cover Superstar CM Punk in the game, and I went up to the top turnbuckle to perform his diving elbow signature move. I wasn't paying attention, though, and I failed to notice that The Undertaker had a finisher move stored. It was too late! I had already hit my signature move, and as I was flying through the air, I knew I was a dead man. Sure enough, Undertaker caught Punk in mid-air, then put him in perfect position to execute the Tombstone Piledriver and finish the match. That was a very tough lesson to learn, and one of the most exciting moments I've experienced thus far in "WWE '13."
WWE.COM: How is "WWE '13" going to revolutionize sports-entertainment video games?
LEDESMA: Just like the game's cover Superstar, CM Punk, we're ready to drop a "pipe bomb" on WWE video games. We are revolutionizing sports-entertainment video games in so many different ways, I don't know where to begin, but I'll give it a shot. First, we have one of the largest rosters of WWE Superstars, Divas and Legends ever assembled in a WWE game. Second, we completely overhauled and lengthened our Story Mode this year. We are bringing back the Attitude Era, which gives players the amazing opportunity to relive some of the greatest moments in WWE history. The new Attitude Era Mode is 40 percent larger than our Story Mode last year. We are introducing new match types, such as "Special Referee," championship titles, game modes, options, unlockable content and much more. We haven't even announced the new features yet for our existing, fan-favorite game modes, such as WWE Universe and Create-a-Superstar. "WWE '13" is poised to take the video game world by storm and deliver the largest WWE game to date.
WWE.COM: What feedback did you receive from the WWE Universe on "WWE '12" that you addressed this year in "WWE '13"?
LEDESMA: We receive so much valuable feedback from WWE fans each and every year. We want them to know that not only do we listen to their feedback, but we also address their feedback in-game. Our goal is to create a game the WWE fans want and not just what we want. Fans can follow us on Twitter and personally ask us questions any time they want (@WWEGames and @RealCoryLedesma). We haven't revealed a lot of the feature set or roster just yet, but here's a brief example of the feedback we received and addressed in "WWE '13": We brought back the ability to play with six Divas in a match; instituted new Catching Finishers; added a new championship entrance for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin; brought back the Special Referee match type; added finishers and new moves to perform on top of the announce table; and much, much more to come ...
WWE.COM: How will you convey the feel of the Attitude Era in the game?
LEDESMA: With such a beloved era, it's critical we stay as authentic as possible. We worked closely with the great production team at WWE to create more than 20 exclusive Attitude Era video packages that players will be able to watch as they play throughout Attitude Era Mode. We recreated all of the classic WWE arenas, television graphics and entrances from the time period. We have more than 60 Attitude Era cutscenes that play out throughout the course of the mode, each telling the story as you play the matches. The Attitude Era roster has more than 30 Superstars and Divas from the time period, with lots of unlockable alternate attire options. We also have more than 100 unlockables in the mode, as well as cool bonus features, such as WWE Attitude Era photos, videos and more. As you can see, our goal was to create the most authentic Attitude Era experience possible.
WWE.COM: Finally, how cool is the "WWE '13" Austin 3:16 Collector's Edition going to be?
LEDESMA: It's about as badass as the man was himself during the Attitude Era. The "WWE '13" Austin 3:16 Collector's Edition features exclusive foil packaging that features an embossed "Stone Cold" Steve Austin skull. You get an exclusive collectible art card personally autographed by Austin, as well as in-game items: his red skull T-shirt from 2001, as well as an ATV ring entrance. Fans also get DVD content from " 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin: The Bottom Line on the Most Popular Superstar of All Time." It's the ultimate WWE fan collectible, and it can be pre-ordered today at select retailers worldwide. Fans can also get the Collector's Edition at WWEShop.com at launch.