Old meets new as THQ’s WWE All Stars combines the best modern day Superstars with the retro spandex clad grand-dads of the business, in an over the top animated, fantasy like brawl fest. All stars not only gives old and new fans the opportunity to explore those “what if” battles, but they have the opportunity of doing so in an arcade like game, that pushes the already questionable “realism” associated with professional wrestling to the point where it is absolutely ridiculous but probably the most fun I have had with a WWE game to date.
So if you are into the idea of huge men with makeup doing scary things to other large fellas in tight clothes, then WWE All Stars is definitely one for you to check out.
In terms of game modes WWE All Stars offers much of what we have come to expect from WWE games over the years, with the habitual Exhibition, Cage, Tag and Extreme Rules matches, made unique in comparison to its predecessors by small tweaks.
Tag matches, for example, are not really tag matches at all, since players do not actually “tag” each other into or out of the ring. Instead, you will have 4 players in the ring at any given time in a Tornado styled tag match. While this makes things very exciting and somewhat chaotic, it was a constant source of frustration for me, due to the fact that you have to be continuously aware of what your team mate is up to, as a pin-fall or K.O will result in a loss for you as well. To make things worse, your team mate will often stand by casually deciding which opponent to lock onto while both of them go to town on you with a series of grabs, throws, strikes and pins. So, while you might be playing a tag team battle you can’t really count on your team mate to do much, unless you are playing with a friend, which really is the only way I would recommend you play this mode.
In addition WWE All Stars has integrated a mode called “Path of Champions”, which is basically three sets of ten match mini-stories which culminate in a “boss” like battle at the end of each. During these matches players will participate in one on one, elimination, and cage battles. Although the elimination matches may as well be called three on one, since CPU players generally just target you. To give it more of a story like appeal, fights in this mode are punctuated by the typical manager/wrestler trash talk session which is designed to make you want that tenth match even more.
Unfortunately, while the game modes are generally good fun to play, loading times are incredibly frustrating. This is especially true during the “Path of Champions” mode, where players will typically wait for cut scenes, entrance scenes and the main stage to load before jumping into the action. This might seem trivial, but when there are 4 players in the match and you have to wait for each entrance scene to load even though you are going to skip them, this can become rather annoying.
I think the most enjoyable part of this game for me would have to be the “Fantasy Warfare” mode, which matches up various wrestlers in themed old vs new type matches, giving players the opportunity to watch a career compilation video of the involved wrestlers before the fight actually takes place, which is awesome for both the new WWE fans who have not been exposed to some of these wrestlers before and also for those old WWF fans, it is an opportunity to finally see how some of your old heroes could hold their ground against the modern Superstars.
As with to be expected, WWE All Stars does have a “create a character” mode, however this is one of the more disappointing areas of the game for me, as much of the player’s ability to customize has been taken away. While creating a character is still good fun, and tweaking the look of the wrestler still gives you a certain amount of freedom, move set customizations and entrance scenes have been streamlined to the point where you only have the option of selecting move sets and finishing moves from the stock based on the characters in the game. Thus, the only reason for even making a character is that you would prefer your Shao Kahn look alike to execute Rey Mysterio’s moves as opposed to just playing with Rey.
Like most other aspects of this game, the control scheme has been streamlined to arcade-like functionality. It would’ve made WWE All Stars a brilliant “jump in and jam” kind of game, were it not for the fact that there is a level of convolution to the control scheme that at the very least should offer players a basic tutorial or even maybe a place to practice the timing needed to counter grabs or a subdue a flying 200kg Neanderthal whose intention is belly-flopping on your face. Unfortunately players will have to use the control layout as a reference during matches and learn on the fly, which would pose no real problem considering the simplicity of the control scheme. However, using the appropriate counter techniques at the right time is an entirely different aspect to the game-play, one which unfortunately must be learnt through trial and error.
WWE All Stars was reviewed by Peter Carmody