WWE is over the top, its part of the appeal and the lure. WWE All Stars plays on the over top action seen in real life in order to create a something little different to the yearly Smackdown vs. RAW the question is will something different be worth your time and money?
From the first second the game loads up a bombardment of colour and noise is projected through the screen along with one of the many familiar entrances tracks from past and present superstars. It sets the feel for the game quite well and is oddly reminiscent of an old arcade cabinet stuck at the end of a grotty chip shop. All Stars offers up the chance to create match up’s using WWE legends such as Macho Man Randy Savage, Stone Cold Steve Austin and current WWE Superstars such as Undertaker, Triple H and Rey Mysterio. The selection of wrestlers will (for the most part) satisfy fans of past and present with a number of much loved and recognised faces that being said there is some questionable inclusions and indeed exclusions. The roster is slightly limited to start with due to the amount of unlockables earned via WWE All Stars game modes. There’s no denying it that perhaps people will discuss and question the roster (almost certainly with the ‘Hardcore’ wrestling fans) but overall it’s a solid selection of modern stars and past legends.
The visual style of All Stars is something to behold, the over exaggerated look of the wrestlers works perfectly given the games themes. The character models all mange to look oddly like their real life counter parts with a slight cartoon like twist which results in some truly fantastic looking character models. The character models are not perfect however with animation sometimes looking slightly disjointed (this mainly applies to the larger character models such as Andre the giant).
During the matches it’s a common occurrence for the game to slow down to show case the wrestlers signature move or finisher which adds a little something extra to the games overall presentation while adding an excuse to sit back and enjoy the carnage. There isn’t many issues that stem from the visuals but there are a few niggles mainly appearing during a wrestlers entrance, in some cases (The Rock and his eye brow ) a wrestlers face will look almost frozen like they enjoyed too many Botox injections.
The frozen faces may offer something of a cheeky giggle at first but it does look out of place. A other very minor issue is perhaps almost bite sized entrances each wrestler has, instead of the full versions (you would expect) used in the Smackdown v.s Raw franchise WWE All Stars instead opts for extremely cut versions which last no longer than a minute and in some cases even change the entrances to what they would be in real life, it’s a minor issue but a nagging one never the less.
The fast paced gameplay is enjoyable and stands up to many popular fighters on the market today, resulting in it bringing something new to the squared circle.
Gameplay wise WWE All Stars is fast and aggressive. The speed in which the gameplay is played could be a tad over whelming for an unsuspecting player. At the core of the game is a class system with each class offering a unique gameplay experience. The Acrobat class consists of high-fliers such as Rey Mysterio Rick ‘’The Dragon’’ Steamboat and Eddie Guerrero, the acrobat offers the most frantic combat with wrestlers flying all over the ring performing ludicrous moves. While acrobat’s posse high flying skill and extreme agility they hit the weakest and take the least damage unlike the powerful Big Men class.
The big men are the powerhouses of WWE All Stars with their powerful attacks and ability to take high amount of damage, they are however very slow and a little boring to play as and lack any interesting or impressive looking moves. The most technical and perhaps hardest the master class is the Grappler who have the unique ability to chain grapple attacks together which result in massive damage to the target.
The most accessible class is that of the Brawler which also offers to most grounded play style. Combining elements of Acrobat and The Big Men and the Grappler the Brawler is indeed the best class for starters.
Their increased striking range and ability to pin targets in a number of ways allow the Brawler to be a tough enemy and a solid choice of class. WWE All Stars also has a focus on combo based play be it combos from the ground or the air, slamming a opponent into the mat often sends them flying into the air allowing for air combos to be pulled off (which for the record look just as good as the finishers and signatures) which in some cases can lead to further combos being pulled off. The combo system is surprisingly effective and fluent as well as technical and wouldn’t look out of place in more recognised fighter franchises. WWE All Stars a quite simplistic reversal system which maps both of the bumper buttons allowing for gameplay to flow and also remain accessible.
The number of match types on offer is a little thin on the ground. Singles, Tornado Tag, Extreme Rules, Steel Cage and Elimination are on offer with singles and extreme rules feeling very much the same with the only difference being the odd crutch and plank of wood to batter your opponent with. Steel Cage matches tend to be a little repetitive mostly due to the new mini game that is prompted when trying to escape the cage. Tornado Tag allows for tag team grapples to be used which add a extra spin on gameplay however the ring can become a little bit cluttered with four characters on screen as the same time as too can the targeting system which seems to have a mind of its own. Elimination offers the basic experience as a singles match just once an opponent is defeated new one enters the fray.
Though the basic match types are a little thin on the ground the game modes do a good job of remedying the situation. First up is Path of Champions which challenges players to a number of matches which results in capturing a WWE title, the best example of this game mode is the Tag Team path of champions which pits the players choice of tag team against WWE legends Triple H and Shaun Michaels also known as Degeneration X.
With the ten matches leading up to the meeting with Degeneration X players will take on tag teams of past and present, in between matches players are treated to trash talk from both Triple H and Michaels (both supply the voice over’s) which is often funny in the classic Degeneration X style. The mode does offer decent length and a fun time to be had as well as the chances to unlock a number of extra costumes for the roster, at the same time the lack of match types does take effect on this game mode allowing for a sense of repetition to creep in.
WWE All Stars offers an online experience which works well for the most part and at the time of this review didn’t suffer any technical issues or matchmaking issues – Result!
The Fantasy Warfare mode is quite simply one of the best modes put into a WWE game. Fantasy Warfare lets you represent WWE’s legends or superstars in a series of past-versus-present fantasy matches to determine the greatest of all time, the matches are built upon the two wrestler’s gimmicks for example Perfectly Awesome (Mr.Perfect Vs The Miz) and Superior Lifestyle (Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs CM Punk). Each match begins with a brief overview of the superstar and legend involved in the match and shows footage of said wrestler, the footage is spliced in such a manner that it is carried off as real promo footage of a match between the two which works extremely well.
The promo’s look and sound realistic and even mange to splice footage together like the two wrestlers are engaging in trash talk, it may be a minor feature but it’s a feature that truly adds a sense of occasion to the game mode. The game mode plays pretty much like a normal match but results in unlockable characters (depending on who you chose to play as out of the two given options. While the game mode isn’t anything new in terms of gameplay the promo’s make it a worthwhile mode, WWE fans will eat up the promos while non WWE fans will sit back and take interest, the promos are a feature that deserve to find their way into the Smackdown Vs Raw series.
All Stars welcomes back create a superstar which has been a strong feature of the Smackdown Vs Raw series however All Stars version of the mode is a little limited. Players are forced to select a move set of other wrestlers instead of creating their own. There is no create a finisher option nor is there any option to create your own entrance. The choice of in ring gear feels a little bit lacking and there doesn’t appear to be anything new to choose from. It’s a little underwhelming that the mode feels so restricting.
WWE All Stars offers an online experience which works well for the most part and at the time of this review didn’t suffer any technical issues or matchmaking issues. The online offers all of the offline match types with the only customization coming from choice of venue and if you wish to allow created content or not. The online experience is solid and what is enjoyable playing offline is equally enjoyable playing online.
Overall WWE All Stars manages to give a decent arcade experience, the fast paced gameplay is enjoyable and stands up to many popular fighters on the market today and at the same time brings something new to the table. The over the top look adds to the games feel and themes allowing WWE All Stars to stand out on its own away from the Smackdown vs Raw series.
The match types and game modes may be a little limited but the overall gameplay overrides the issue and the nice little touches such as the slow motion and the pre match promos on Fantasy Warfare mode add that little extra enjoyment to the package. WWE fans will highly enjoy All Stars and even non WWE fans can appreciate the solid and fluent gameplay featured in WWE All Stars. Over the top and highly enjoyable is often used to describe WWE as a product overall and this can be perfectly applied to WWE All Stars.