Reviews

WWE All Stars – Review

Release Date: March 29th for US, and April 1st for UK
Developer: THQ San Diego
Publisher: THQ
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen/ Local Multiplayer: 2-4 players.
Multiplayer: 2-4 players
PEGI: 16

Do you remember when you were a kid, when you used to play with figures of your favorite wrestlers? Do you remember how every move you did with them was massively exegerated? Well WWE All Stars is a tribute to every over-the-top DDT you pulled off, to every earth-shattering suplex and to every cool moment and fantasy match you created with those figures.

WWE All Stars brings together 30 wrestlers from across time to create a dream roster. Legends like Hulk Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Andre the Giant, and the pits them against current superstars like John Cena, Kane and Triple H. It’s an impressive roster in its entirety, and while there are a few missing from the list that you would expect to be there it’s still got almost every big name you’d want to see, though the list will doubtless spark arguments amongst the most “hardcore” wrestling fans out there.

The mechanics behind All Stars is all about huge moves and over-the-top action.
Each wrestler fits into one of the games catagories such as Grappler, Brawler and Acrobat and gives you an idea of how they’ll play. Brawlers, for example, get extra damage on their punches and kicks, while Grappler can chain together different grapple based moves. Of course Acrobats are all about speed and insane moves that see they flying across the ring.
At its base level All Stars is a simple game to pick up; you’ve got weak and strong strike buttons and two different grapple buttons which then open up into different moves depending on which button you whack in the grapple. You’ve also got signature moves and finishers to play with. It’s instantly accessible to anybody giving it a beatiful pick-up ‘n’ play feeling. However, there is a good bit of depth in the system such as combo’s to discover and a counter/reversal system that relies on timing. Every move can be countered, and every counter can be countered, often leading to some stunning reversal based battles. And for anyone willing to put in some time there are plenty of little tricks to be learned.

There is absolutely no universe in which this could end well.....

Fans of Smackdown vs Raw may be shocked to see the gameplay in All Stars. Each and every move is exegerrated with big impacts and a brutal feel. Signature moves and Finishers see wrestlers leaping into the air and bringing their opponent down with bone-shattering impact sending shockwaves across the ring. It’s utterly fantastic to witness the Rock unleash the Rock Bottom and fly into the air before slamming into the ground. Others which use their finishers from the turnbuckles are every more insane as you don’t have to bother getting distances right or even climbing up to the turnbuckle; simply hit the finisher and he’ll take a flying leap onto the nearest one and deliver the move in spectacular fashion.

The insane action is emphasised by the games unique visual style. Wrestlers are massively over-blown with rippling chests and huge muscles. It’s got an almost cartoon sytling to it. Activate a finisher and all the color in the world is drained except for the wrestlers and the blue and red waves of color coming from them. It looks utterly fantastic, and while there is some technical roughness the art-style more thank makes up for it.

All Stars does have a big flaw in one area though; content. For your money you get two main singleplayer elements; Path of Champions and Fantasy Warfare. Path of Champions lets you pick one of three paths to take, and then you embark on ten matches to complete it. However, you can complete a path in just a few hours. There are unlocks to be gained by beating it with different wrestlers though. But really, apart from the few canned cutscenes it’s just a series of matches you could have played in Exhibition mode which lets you set up any match you wish.
Fantasy Warfare is where the real draw is; a series of set matches between legends and superstars where you can pick your wrestler and decide who’s better. Once again there are unlockables to be gained by beating this mode, but it can be completed in a few hours yet again. There are some brilliant videos before matches pieced together from footage through the years to be viewed.

The ability to create your own wrestler has been retained from the Smackdown vs RAW games, but it has been stripped back which is a rather odd choice. There’s still a helluva lot of visual choices that you can pile onto your character, but you can’t change the size of decals and move them into specific areas anymore. Moves now have to be picked in sets instead of individually, and the sets come from exisiting wrestlers. The ability to create-a-finisher is also gone. Why these elements have been stripped back is an unknown, and it’s a little dissapointing as my wrestler doesn’t feel as unique as he could.

You can also take the fight online and kick randoms butts using your custom created wrestling masterpiece or one of the roster. At the time of writing I haven’t had much chance to get online so I won’t comment much on these aspects other than you can play any of the modes available in singleplayer such as Cage Match, Extreme Rules, Tornado Tag Team (four players) and Triple Thread matches. However, the choice of modes is fairly small compared to those seen in Smackdown vs RAW. The one thing I will say is I noticed a touch of lag online, and in game where countering is so important it can be a little irritating.

There are a few flaws to be mentioned: I’ve already said this but it should be stressed that for your money All Stars is a bit short on content. The singleplayer aspects can be completed very quickly, and the amount of modes is less than might be expected. In short, if you’re a singleplayer only gamer you may have trouble justifying the price tag.
Key amongst the flaws is a lack of tutorial mode, and while it is easy to pick up and play those who can’t be bothered spending more than fifteen minutes learning a game may never workd out how Grapplers can chain moves, or how Acrobats can leap around the ring. Tips do appear on-screen during matches, but usually they have no real consequence on what you’re doing at the time.
Finally, the load time are pretty long for a game in this day and age.

WWE All Stars takes the essence of wresting – over-the-top action and fun – and converts it into one of the best wrestling games that anyone can pick up and play, yet has enough depth to keep you playing.

The Good:
+ Hogan vs Triple H. Yes Please!
+Brutal Finishers.
+ Great Roster.

The Bad:
– Not all finishers suit the wacky style.
– There isn’t much singleplayer content.
– Why the stripped back wrestler creation?

Scores:

Graphics: 8.5
A fantastic art-style suits the gameplay perfectly. Techically speaking it is a little rough in places.

Sound: 8
Sound effects are spot-on and wrestlers like Ornton lent their voices to the game.

Story: 4
A brief cutscene of your intended target mouthing off greets you in Path of Champions, but that’s about it.

Gameplay: 8.5
Damn good fun. It’s not quite deep enough to keep hardcore fighter fans happy, but theres enough accesability and depth here to create a fine wrestling game.

Lifespan: 6.5
Online is where the main content is, but for singleplayer people this is lacking.

Overall: 8.5
A homage to the days when you enacted fantasy matches with your little toy wrestlers and pulled off insane moves. This is a fun game that looks good and plays well. What more do you want?

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