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Jahanzeb Khan
15 Apr, 2011

WWE All Stars Review

360 Review | Better than the real thing.
Video games based on the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly WWF) have been around since the 1980s, and have evolved with other gaming franchises and genres. These WWE games, in the past, were all about non-stop chaotic arcade action that threw physics and realism out of the window to offer gamers an easy to pick up and play experience, making them extremely popular multiplayer titles. The popularity of the genre was the highest during the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation era, with games like WWF Smackdown and WWF No Mercy being highly acclaimed and widely played games. Towards the beginning of the previous console generation, it took a turn to a more simulation side of things, favouring slow paced, realistic and complicated mechanics over the no-brainer style systems in past titles. Gamers all over still miss the days of good old arcade style wrestling, where it would take less than ten minutes for someone to master the game’s mechanics. Thankfully this year THQ have filled that void with their latest release, WWE All Stars, a game completely unlike their simulation style Smackdown vs Raw franchise.

WWE All Stars features an cartoonish style presentation, where characters are depicted using exaggerated disproportionate designs. They all look overly hulked up and bulky, almost like action figures. It’s an interesting choice of design, one that actually works out in creating a cool fantasy brawler style presentation that even non fans of WWE can get into. The game however is essentially meant to appeal to long time WWE fans, as it features an all star roster of current and past WWE superstars, all recreated in an over-the-top cartoonish fashion. The nostalgia appeal is high in this one, and the interesting mix of superstars creates somewhat of a dream roster.

The roster size is quite impressive, with 30 WWE wrestlers available on the disc and more characters to join in the future in the form of downloadable content. The roster features a mix of current and past wrestlers. It has current main event WWE stars like John Cena, The Miz, Randy Orton and legends of the business like The Immortal Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Eddie Guerrero and Jake the Snake Roberts. All wrestlers are portrayed in a ridiculously crazy and exaggerated manner in terms of their appearance and moves, and most of them looking extremely super deformed but in a pretty cool way.

That skull is gonna be smashed.

That skull is gonna be smashed.
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When it comes to core wrestling/combat mechanics, WWE All Stars will remind hardcore wrestling fans of TNA Impact the video game. It really does feel quite similar, which comes to no surprise as both games share a very similar development team, but the good news is that while TNA Impact was mediocre at best, WWE All Stars is far more polished and sound in terms of gameplay mechanics and adds a whole bunch of crazy new ideas.

The game’s wrestling system has all the basic essentials of wrestling titles with grapples, strikes, running strikes/grapples, Irish whips, diving attacks and the usual set of unique signature moves and wrestling styles for each wrestler. It feels like a typical pro wrestling title for sure but then there are several elements that made WWE All Stars feel more like a fighting game. The game allows you to juggle opponents in the air, in an even more exaggerated fashion than Tekken. It allows you to mix up strikes and grapples for some cool combos and allows you to pull off charged up strikes that can knock your opponent down in one blow. The counter system in place is similar to the Smackdown vs Raw games, where you have one button for strike counter/block and another for grapple counter/reversal but very simplified and responsive. The counter system in Smackdown vs Raw often feels a bit sluggish and delayed but in WWE All Stars it’s a lot more fluid and fast paced, and almost identical to TNA Impact in terms of animation and execution. Finishers are present of course with each wrestler having their own respective set of unique signature and finishing moves, each with their own colourful trademark names. The core mechanics are solid and easy to grasp, but enough there to reward skill and quick reflexes.

Big Show and Hulk Hogan really do look this big.

Big Show and Hulk Hogan really do look this big.
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The action in WWE All Stars is absolutely relentless and insane, almost a mirror of the classic WWF Wrestlemania Arcade game. The animations are exaggerated and explosive, you will see wrestlers jump 30 feet in the air when pulling off their moves and also awe at the impact of their slams and stomps causing earth shattering shock waves. All the famous wrestling holds and iconic moves are present, but they are presented in a far more creative manner than ever before. For example, most of you have obviously seen Hulk Hogan pull off his so called ‘atomic leg drop’ on television, sure that’s a pretty straightforward leg drop but in WWE All Stars it truly is an ‘atomic’ leg drop, with the game’s version of Hulk Hogan leaping 20 feet into the air before landing on his helpless opponent with an atomic bomb like impact. The same applies to all the moves in the game, they all just look so much more powerful and impactful than their real world counterparts.

The impressive roster includes a variety of different ‘character types’, you got your mammoth sized super heavy weights like Big Show and Andre the giant who are slower and heavier but possess bone crunching strength. Then you have guys like John Morrison and Rey Mysterio who are high flying types, leaping on to turn buckles and flying off them, and even using the opponent as a jumping platform. Then you have technicians like Bret The ‘Hitman’ Hart and Edge and balanced powerhouses like John Cena and Ultimate Warrior. It’s quite a diverse roster offering different play styles, and at times WWE All Stars feels more like a straight up fighting game than a wrestling (sports) title. Speaking of fighting games, WWE All Stars actually features a health meter. You can win by the way of pin fall and such but you can also deplete your opponent’s health and win via knockout by executing a colossal finishing move.

As amazing as the core gameplay engine and exciting presentation are, the experience WWE All Stars quickly starts to go downhill when you find yourself running out of things to do. The Smackdown vs Raw series is regarded for its sheer amount of content in terms of match types, modes of play, career mode, championships, customizations, creation tools and amazing attention to detail regarding the subtle presentation aspects of the WWE program. Sadly all this is sorely lacking in WWE All Stars, making it feel a little barebones as a package.

R.K.O through the atmosphere!!

R.K.O through the atmosphere!!
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It has a story mode called 'Path of Champions' where players pick one of three championship story paths and end up facing either Undetaker for the World Title, Randy Orton for the WWE Title or D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) for the Tag Team Titles. There isn’t anything particularly exciting or story driven about this mode as it really is just a series of matches.

There is a dream match mode of sorts called 'Fantasy Warfare' where there is a selection of preset set dream matchups for players to try out, such as Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena and Edge vs. Bret Hart. Players can choose one of the two wrestlers and virtually create the dream match. Sure, players could easily have created these matchups using the basic exhibition mode, but what they’ve done to spice things up a little is add a video promo packages before the start of each dream match. These video promos are of the same dramatic quality as what you can find in WWE programming, and they do a really good job in setting up the dramatic and epic ‘feel’ of the dream encounter. The way they have edited the footage makes it look as if the matchup is for real.

In terms of match types, there are the usual tag team, single, elimination rules, triple threat and fatal four ways etc. The selection of match types here is decent enough but there aren’t any of the essential gimmick match types, such as tables, ladders and chairs, hell in a cell and elimination chamber etc. The game has steel cage and extreme rules match types but they don’t feel nearly as fleshed out as the ones featured in Smackdown vs Raw games and they don’t add as much variety.

The customisation options present in WWE All Stars doesn’t even touch what we’ve seen in modern wrestling titles. It has the customary create a wrestler only but even that feels very barebones. You can create a unique character but in terms of moves, your selection is limited to existing superstar move sets and finishers.

Watch out!!

Watch out!!
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The online mode is pretty robust as we were able to enjoy some smooth and fast paced match ups over the net. As mentioned earlier, created superstars can have their own uniquely customised move sets and that alone makes the online experience extremely enjoyable. Past wrestling titles suffered from crippling balancing issues online, as players would customise their move sets to include powerful finishers as normal moves and exploit glitches and use cheap/unblockable moves. This is not a problem in WWE All Stars as being forced to use preset move sets pretty much ensures balance and fairness online, making the experience far more enjoyable and addictive.

WWE All Stars is certainly a step towards the right direction. The core gameplay mechanics are fun, fast paced and allow for a pure hard hitting arcade fighting experience. The presentation in terms of character designs and insane animations looks incredibly cool and exciting. The absence of customisation is actually a double edged sword, sure it takes away a lot of the freedom and creativity but it ensures a fair and balanced online gaming experience. The lack of modes and exciting gimmick match types is a disappointment, but what the game lacks in content is more than compensated by the highly entertaining gameplay. WWE All Stars is mechanically the best playing wrestling video game to come out since the N64 era, one that prioritises ‘fun’ above everything else, one that even non wrestling fans can pick up and have a blast playing with friends.
The Score
WWE All Stars is easily the most entertaining wrestling video game to come out in years. What it lacks in content is more than compensated by its superb play mechanics. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related WWE All Stars Content

E3 2010 Feature: WWE All Stars Hands-On
28 Jun, 2010 Returning to the arcades.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 Review
21 Oct, 2009 Almost as good as the real thing.
Australian Gaming Bargains - 05/02/09
04 Feb, 2009 February begins with a bang.
4 Comments
3 years ago
As a wrestling fan, I like the concept but this games is terrible in its execution. At the end of the day it is TNA iMPACT with a WWE coat of paint, Im taking this back.
3 years ago
are u crazy! this game is awesome i cant stop playing it!
3 years ago
Dude I think you do the game a pretty massive diservice by likening it to TNA iMPACT and saying it has a reversal system similar to SDvsR as it is nothing like either of those games.

While it is possible to button mash there is a surprising amount of depth to the gamplay. There is a complex system of chaining stikes or grapples depending on your fighting class and the reversal system requires precise timing which is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of SDvsR which allows you to spam a single button to reverse 90% of the time.

All stars is essentially a great new grappler that is light on for bells and whistles.
3 years ago
The single button reversal was introduced much later in the smackdown franchise (2010).
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  01/04/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2010

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