Review: WWE All Stars
For me wrestling games have lost the impact they once had on me since the early WWE Smackdown vs Raw series and stopped buying them from 2008 as I felt that they were all the same and lacked any substantial new features.
When THQ had released WWE Legends of Wrestlemania it felt like a breath of fresh air and to play as some of the best WWE legends there are to date. Despite how easy the game was to complete they had the right idea in trying something different for a wrestling game. Now we are treated to a new wrestling game called WWE All Stars which is similar to that game and direction except adding some of the current roster to pit them against the legends of the WWE. While some people might be sceptical of another easy wrestling game with no relevance to the current WWE product I can personally say that these people are wrong.
WWE may have changed from whacking chairs over Peoples heads in almost every match, blood and flipping the bird down to a PG style show and hell even not using the “wrestling” term only to use “Entertainer” but the product is now aimed at the younger fan and as such want gamers to also have some fun when playing WWE video games. Even at 25 I have been a long time wrestling fan since the age of 8 and lived through the ups of the Attitude Era down to the stupid storylines recently, being a huge fan of Hulk Hogan back when he was a decent guy and John Cena I wouldn’t think that playing against one another would be any less fun that doing so in one of the early inceptions of Smackdown vs Raw but I am pleasantly surprised as you will see in this review.
One notable point people will notice about the game is the visuals, the wrestlers look more arcadey and have a ‘Top-Heavy’ look about them which is quite comical with what seems like inhuman strength like superman which will engross the younger gamer. When you go to hit someone in a combo move by pressing either X or square in succession often your opponent will leave the mat and be flung into the air of which you can mix in some grapple moves to make it interesting. Gone are the complicated controls of the Smackdown vs Raw series although it does take a short while to get used to them as a newbie and maybe a short introduction video showing how to use the different styles but never the less it does the job.
Each wrestler will have a trait about them whether it be a Brawler, High Flyer or Grappler and the styles make for an interesting match. Say for example you play as Steve Austin who is a Brawler you will 9 times out of 10 win in a fist fight situation and keep hammering down the hit buttons will net you a lot of damage but your grapple are more susceptible to be reversed. Picking a Grappler such as HHH will allow you combos of grapple moves one after the other giving you perfect damage against the opponent. Another great feature to WWE All Stars is the use of signature moves and each wrestler will have at least 2 to use. By pressing two action buttons at the same time such as X and Y or Square and Triangle will grapple the opponent and do a spectacular move. When I say spectacular I mean over the top visual style so for John Cena If the opponent is on the ground then the ‘Five Knuckle Shuffle’ will be done and he will fly into the air and spin several times before he lets rip his fists which is comical and adds some style to the game. This also applies to finishing moves which are just as complex and are what is the only let down in the control style this game has. Much like previous wrestling games you have to build up the special bar until flashing then pressing the two shoulder buttons at the same time will unleash the finishing move but this can be easily blocked and the bar gets depleted once attacked as the grapple to use the finisher takes what seems like an age but in actuality is around 3 seconds which is too long for me. What is great here is that the game uses a Knockout ending to a match so if a wrestlers energy is down to red then once the finishing move is used the a KO happens ending the match and there is no way back. This helps in Tag Team matches, Handicap matches and 4 way matches to stop other wrestlers interfering in pinfalls or submissions. When playing previous wrestling games I would hate in career mode come across 4 way matches knowing it would take half an hour to beat everyone up to stop others winning so this feature gets a huge thumbs up from me.
Much like the Arcade style that WWE All Stars is there are some usual match types such as Tag Team, Handicap, Elimination, Extreme Rules and Cage matches and all of them are fun to play and are never boring. Tag Team matches are great as there is literally no need for tagging as it is tornado style which makes the match ups fun and you can attack the other wrestlers by flicking the right analogue stick which shows who you wish to face under your HUD bar.
There are 30 wrestlers to choose from in WWE All Stars and THQ plans on adding a lot more via DLC and for those of you that had the ‘Million Dollar’ Pack then Ted DiBiase and Ted DiBiase Jr will be available soon but at the time of writing this review we will soon see Hawk and Animal from Legion of Doom be a DLC pack.
There are two types of Careers. One of which is ‘Fantasy Warfare’ and the other is ‘Path of Champions.’ They are different and both provide some replay value and if you want the 1000G or a Platinum trophy then several playthroughs are needed here with different wrestlers.
‘Path of Champions’ offers 3 different scenarios. One path will see you play 10 matches to face The Undertaker at Summerslam for the World Heavyweight Title, this is a nice path is you face legends in different match scenarios such as Cage matches or elimination style matches. Each opponent uses their alternate costumes to give a retro feel like Ultimate Warriors Red, White and Blue attire. These matches are not difficult and will on average take you about half an hour to end. The second Scenario is against Randy Orton for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania which will see you in matches against the current crop of wrestlers and the final scenario is for the Tag Team Titles against D-Generation X. These overall provide a lengthy career and if you complete all three with one wrestler then all of the alternate costumes are unlocked so it was great to unlock the nWo style costume for Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
The second main story mode is called ‘Fantasy Warfare.’ This sees 15 matches of Legend vs Current and all matches have a video montage of a rivalry between the two but only 2 matches brought a tear to my eye and one is the late great Eddie Guererro vs Rey Mysterio which did happen back in 2005 where Eddie turned Heel involving Rey’s kids which there is a hidden achievement called ‘I’m Your papi.’ Even the sounds in the match from the crowd saying ‘Thank you Eddie!’ was emotional to say the least. The second match is Cena vs Hogan and a dream match I’m pretty sure we will never see in real life as Hogan to loved up with TNA and Cena to loved up to The Rock at WrestleMania next year. The video montage does a fantastic job of building up interest in this match.
The single player aspect is more than enough to keep any gamer interested in WWE All Stars and the addition of Create a Wrestler mode features again here which is not on par with the WWE Smackdown vs Raw version but that being said the focus on All Stars is to have fun with the preset wrestlers and maybe if there is a sequel to the game THQ can focus a bit more time and effort on the Create modes, maybe create a PPV mode would be nice and make dream matches of legends vs Current stars.
What wrestling games have struggled with is the online modes and while THQ have tried to combat cheaters with is the removal of the Pause option the online mode is full of lag and constant interruptions which makes me want to throw my pad at the wall. There are online achievements to earn which luckily do not need to be ranked and can be done via boosting so for those completionists out there then this will be the only quick option to do so. Maybe a patch can help the online modes but constant freezing during a match and lag make online broken.
Overall WWE All Stars is a great single player experience that brings an arcade style to the game which is what the genre needs to move forward, The controls are different and the compelling career options make several needed play throughs to provide longevity and I for one would love a sequel with a far better online mode and a few different legends and wrestlers! So THQ if you are reading my review please add Alberto Del Rio, Ric Flair and Mick Foley to WWE All Stars 2 please.