WWE All Stars
Can you smeeeeellll....bah...you know the rest!
Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
Can you smmmeeeeeellllllll....wait, too cliched, right? Cause Stone Cold sai...um...no, that’s night right either. Whatcha gonna do brother, when the 24” pythons and Hulka......sigh. Ok, so I think we should just skip the iconic quotes altogether. Not that they are bad or anything. Quite the contrary actually. These quotes have transcended their intended audience altogether and now they are used over and over again. I only bring this up because this same level of transcendence also applies to THQ’s next entry in the WWE franchise, dubbed All Stars...
If you have any experience with the Smackdown vs Raw franchise at all, you may be wondering just how All Stars will be able to pull that off. The answer is simple: Arcade action! The best way to describe WWE All Stars is to take the concept that made NBA Jam a cult favorite and cram it down the WWE’s throat. In fact, Sal Divita, a man that is arguably best known for his work on the NBA Jam franchise back in its Midway days, is a producer on All Stars. This alone was a great call on THQ’s part as his influence is evident in the final product. The end result? A game that I found could be enjoyed by both dedicated fans and those who haven’t seen the WWE since it was known as the WWF.
And what is that final product exactly? Well, you have wrestlers. You have a wrestling ring. You have a healthy roster of 30 WWE personalities (Macho Man! Andre The Giant, The Miz, Stone Cold and The Rock, to name a few), spread across both current Superstars and the Legends of yore. Sounds pretty typical, right? Well, there are some things missing that you might assume would be there. All Stars is very scaled back in comparison to games like the SvR series. All the sim stuff has been completely removed. The massive moves list and overwhelming button layouts have been left behind as well. And where replicating the WWE presentation as realistic as possible was the primary goal in SvR, All Stars wants nothing to do with that. Instead, it brings a super deformed, action figure look that befits the kind of squared circle combat it facilitates. Bright colors, hulking muscles, and huge moves. That’s it. The action here is all about over-the-top moves and earth shattering, bone breaking hits. And it works. It really works. The best way to describe it is to say that THQ dumped everything the WWE had to offer and made a game about just the highlight reel.
And that’s exactly why this title works so well. With a basic button layout - two strikes, two grapples, two reversals, a run button and another for pinning/climbing - it’s extremely easy to just jump right in, not to mention it also keeps the focus where it needs to be: the action. The big moves will ‘Wow’ you as you pull off one of your favorite Superstar’s three signature moves (there’s even a Six Million Dollar Man audio component that plays as the animation is played.) And the finishers? You can’t help but wince when you hit one. Seriously, these are huge moves, with wrestlers leaping ten or fifteen feet in the air, slamming their opponent in the mat with enough force to register on the Richter scale. The exhilaration and just pure joy that comes once you have successfully landed one of these moves hearkens back to the arcade experience, where you and your buddies are huddled around the cabinet, whooping and hollering over who just schooled who.
Sounds like this one could be the holy grail for arcadey brawlers, don’t you think? Well, not quite. While the action gets the job done, All Stars only offers four modes for you to play around in. The Exhibition mode is the standard single match experience found in all games of the genre. Standard, Tornado Tag, Steel Cage, Extreme Rules, and Exhibition broken down even further by the amount of participants such as 1v1, Fatal Four Way, etc... The options are nowhere near as varied as we have seen in other WWE titles, but at the same time, the decision to limit the match types was made simply to facilitate the experience they were shooting for. Keep in mind too that all those matches can be played in the online mode as well.
Aside of that, there’s the Path of Champions - which was the most lackluster option of the entire experience - and the Fantasy Warfare mode - which was the highlight of the show as far as I was concerned. For Path of Champions, there’s three belts you can shoot for: The Undertaker’s World Heavyweight Championship, Randy Orton’s WWE Championship, and Degeneration X’s Tag Team belts. In all three, the player has to run a gauntlet of ten matches to ultimately face off with the champion. Unfortunately the ten matches needed to get there were a bland mix of singles and Elimination battles that felt like cannon fodder the whole way through. Sure, there was a minor bit of promo in the middle of it along with a great introductory set up, but overall it felt like an exercise in repetition to get to the prize. Maybe had a little more story been sandwiched in, cultivating the brewing rivalry, it would have come out a little more interesting.
Now, as I said, Fantasy Warfare was much more enjoyable. The premise takes a Legend and a Superstar and pits them against each other in a match to see who is the best at what they do. For example, who’s the most charismatic, Randy Savage or John Morrison? Or, who’s the most patriotic, Sgt Slaughter or Jack Swagger? Who’s the coldest snake in the business, Jake Roberts or Randy Orton? While they are only single matches, the video package that sets up the match is top notch and could easily have come straight off any of the WWE’s PPV programs. The love and care that went into them is obvious and takes what could have been a dull singles competition and turned it into a full blown event. Note: The roster initially has only 20 wrestlers available, with the other 10 being unlockable via the Fantasy Warfare mode.
As far as the audio/video presentation is concerned, my complaints are the same as they are in pretty much every wrestling game I cover. It truly is a pleasure to have Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross on the mic and the entrance music was is expectedly solid, though a bit truncated in order to speed things up (again, keeping the focus on the action in the ring). And the overall motif of exaggerated bodies and flashy colors enhance the ambiance. Also as expected, the animations were both smooth and hard-hitting. However, the texture clipping issues still creep up in just about every match, such as seeing a wrestler’s arm slide through the torso of his opponent or legs melding into each other during some of the moves. And of course, we still get the phantom shifts of both combatants should they initiate a move while up against the ropes. They aren’t deal breakers mind you, but they are noticeable.
To be frank, All Stars is a good start that will please those looking for the quick action. Sadly, the barebones package worked both for and against it. Streamlining everything does its job, keeping the spotlight on the brutally exaggerated combat. And the Create-A-Fighter mode, while not as robust as the SvR series, is considerably deeper than I expected. The available match types are a bit lacking though, but I do understand why they were limited. Yet, when it was all said and done, the sparse content leaves little to sink one’s teeth into. Really, this isn’t a game you will spend hours on end playing. You’ll pick it up for quick burst, playing a match or three and then put it down again for while (just like NBA Jam). Don’t get me wrong, it is fun, especially when battling human buddies instead of the lifeless AI. But it’s a quick burn and will wear thin much sooner than you would expect. The roster is a dream come true for most fans and the testosterone-fueled, simplistic and at the same time extremely exaggerated action makes this one easy to recommend to both the fans and non-fans alike, especially for those who have been looking for a more arcade-like experience. But there is room for improvement that I hope to see THQ San Diego take advantage of should an All Stars 2 get the green light.
+ Visual motif enhances the experience
+ Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are great on commentary
+ Streamlined experience is welcomed...
- Typical texture clipping still present
4 weeks ago :: (PSN) Fuel Overdose
4 weeks ago :: (PSN) Darkstalkers Resurrection
1 month ago :: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
1 month ago :: (PSN) Alien Breed
6 months ago :: Assassin's Creed III
6 months ago :: FIFA Soccer 13
7 months ago :: Resident Evil 6
7 months ago :: NHL 13
8 months ago :: (PSN) The Expendables 2
Download us here!
Game Junkies podcast and audio interviews
Release Date : 2011/03/29
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : THQ
Developer : THQ
Category : Sports
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10