It seems I can never escape personnel problems in my federation’s locker room.  A few years ago, while reviewing Adam Ryland’s Total Extreme Wrestling 2010 from Grey Dog SoftwareI had to deal with locker room cancer Jay Chord, son of then owner, Rip.  My plans to get him injured so badly he’d never work again fell through, but fortunately he signed with a larger federation and stopped being my problem. In 2013, Rip has retired from the business, and his idiot son is still an annoying fish in someone else’s pond.  I thought new ownership would bring peace and stability to MAW (Mid Atlantic Wrestling in Ryalnd’s fictional Cornellverse), but now I have to deal with yet another entitled goofball with ties to the industry in Hollywood Bret Starr…  He’s already causing locker room havoc, but I can’t fire him because he draws money and is destined to be a star, even if he alienates everyone else in the process.  Is he worth the effort, or should I dump him and try to replace him in the upper midcard with someone less… troublesome?

Welcome to booking a wrestling federation as only Total Extreme Wrestling 2013 can present it.

Man- I just can't catch a break...

Man- I just can’t catch a break…

With every iteration, the TEW franchise becomes more and more like dealing with actual people rather than merely looking at statistics.  Ryland’s AI is superb, and making characters interesting and entertaining has always been a hallmark of his work.  I’ve spent hours just reading about my small stable of workers, imagining the storylines I’ll create with them in an attempt to make MAW a larger federation.  I’ve booked shows, dealt with locker room fistfights (naturally involving that jerk, Starr…) and tried to keep my boss happy despite his. . . somewhat odd. . . demands (no crusierweights or Japanese juniors. . . I guess I won’t be booking that lucha tournament after all).  Like all good sandbox worlds, however, I could simply choose to create my own federation (or take over as the owner of my beloved MAW) and do whatever I feel is right.  As always, the sense of freedom TEW offers is both exhilarating and terrifying.  Since I generally need a bit more structure to feel comfortable, I’ll keep playing as a humble booker/announcer for now.

The improvements to TEW 2013 are too numerous to list.  A new assistant booker feature allows players to let the computer help set up matches and results.  This is especially useful when dealing with large rosters or long shows where the undercard isn’t as important as a main event or hot angle.  Since I only have 16 workers, I won’t be making as much use of it right now, but it’s a welcome feature nonetheless.  I also like the automatic venue selection feature.  As a relatively new player, I like that the computer is able to pick the optimum location for an event for me.  Most fans are thrilled about the ability to create “umbrella” promotions, allowing them to create territories (pre-WWF nationalization where small groups of local promoters exchanged talent).  Mod makers rejoiced at the prospect of recreating the fabled NWA.  Ryland clearly listens to fan advice and feedback, which it truly admirable in this day and age.

Must've been one amazing book...

Must’ve been one amazing book…

TEW 2013 is more user-friendly than previous iterations, which is a nice way to attract new players to the game.  Information is generally better laid out, and easier to retrieve.  Help is readily available both in-game, and in the amazing online forums located here.  A switch to Microsoft Access makes the game load significantly faster, without the risk of data corruption present in earlier versions.

It pains me to say that many people out there are going to miss out on TEW 2013.  It’s certainly not as flashy or action packed as it’s WWE rival.  TEW has never been about top notch graphics or button mashing action.  The adrenaline rush comes from getting a better overall rating for a show than the last one you ran, or nailing that tricky contact negotiation to keep your top talent but not go bankrupt in the process, or icing that pay-per-view deal that will rocket your federation’s popularity into the stratosphere.  As such, it does an amazing job, and is a must-buy for fans looking for more than a simple “Universe mode” a la WWE ’13.  With the right mods, you can even book WWE, TNA, Chikara, etc. against other real world federations.

Highest recommendation.  Buy it here.  If you do, tell me your suggestions for dealing with Starr, would you?