WWE All-Stars Preview

by on March 8, 2011

These days when you think of a wrestling game, in all likelihood, the first thing that will come to your mind is the Smackdown vs. Raw series. Whilst that series has spawned some enjoyable games and is very popular amongst the majority of wrestling fans, some still yearn for the more simplistic titles of yesteryear. Games like Super Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble on the SNES, titles with arcade style gameplay and proper wrestling legends like The Ultimate Warrior.

Well, if you’re one of those people then you’ll probably be interested in THQ’s latest wrestling game, WWE All-Stars. The title moves away from the “realistic” approach taken by the Smackdown vs. Raw series and focuses more on fast paced, over-the-top, arcade style gameplay.

It’s a game where pretty much anyone can pick up the controller and have some fun. The arcade style gameplay caters for players with differing levels of skill quite well. For instance, casual players will find the basics of the control scheme (consisting of light and heavy grapples or strikes) to be very welcoming and easy to understand. On the other hand, hardcore players will do well to learn the games counter and combo system. Whilst neither of these systems are supremely deep, at times, decent knowledge of how they work can become the difference between victory and defeat.

For the most part though, WWE All-Stars revels in its over-top-nature. Almost every single move you pull off in the squared circle is greatly exaggerated, especially signatures and finishers. Once your signature or finisher meter is full (charged up by successful attacks), you simply press the two corresponding buttons and your chosen wrestler will perform an outlandish, over-the-top move. Obviously the moves you perform depend on the wrestler you have chosen, but don’t be surprised when you see your character jump 15 feet in the air and then slam his opponent down into the mat with devastating effect. It’s all just part and parcel of what WWE All-Stars has to offer.

If the over-the-top nature of the game isn’t evident through the gameplay, then just one look at the visuals will make you realise what WWE All-Stars is all about. Every single wrestler on the bulging roster looks like an action figure, with features such as their face and body greatly exaggerated. In fact, at times, you’ll probably find that some of the bigger wrestlers (André the Giant or Big Show) take up quite a bit of screen space!

Talking of wrestlers, WWE All-Stars has a massive roster consisting of superstars from the past and present. Unlike the game itself, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it is probably the biggest and the best roster ever to be included in a wrestling video game. The majority of the current superstars such as John Cena, CM Punk and Sheamus are all present, but it is the inclusion of legends like The Ultimate Warrior, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that is sure to gets fans excited.

All of the wrestlers included in the game are put into one of four categories – Brawler, Big Man, Grappler or Acrobatic. As you can imagine, the category a wrestler falls into has a bearing on his overall style. For example, Rey Mysterio falls into the Acrobatic category and that means his moves are predominantly aerial based, that is when he is at his best. He won’t be able to take punishment like The Big Show (who is a Big Man), but he is certainly a lot quicker with his movement around the ring. It seems like this feature could make for some interesting match-ups, but only the final version of the game will tell us if it adds any sort of actual depth to proceedings.

Content wise, WWE All-Stars seems to opt for the “less is more” approach. Going down this route might end up disappointing a few fans, but the quality of content on offer should make up for this. There is the usual Exhibition mode, but that is also joined by Path of Champions and Fantasy Warfare. The former is an interesting game mode that allows you to challenge The Undertaker, Randy Orton or D-Generation X for their respective titles. Before you get your shot at Wrestlemania though, you have to guide your chosen character through 10 progressively difficult matches. To add to the overall feel of this mode, at the start of each “campaign” you will be greeted by a surprisingly well done cut-scene where the star (or stars) you have challenged will address your attempt to take their title away from them. It falls in line with over-the-top nature of the game and, in all honesty, wouldn’t seem out of place if it was seen on an episode of Monday Night Raw. However, with only 3 “campaigns” to complete, the longevity of this mode is certainly questionable.

Moving on though, Fantasy Warfare seems to be the best mode the game has to offer. This mode consists of 15 predetermined matches where legends of the past are pitted against current superstars. Sure, you could just recreate these matches via the Exhibition mode, but the way THQ have presented them in the Fantasy Warfare mode is mighty impressive. For example, the first match in this mode pits The Ultimate Warrior against Sheamus and after you pick your wrestler of choice, you’re greeted with a lengthy promotional video which hypes up the battle superbly.

The quality is up there with a real promotional video you would see before a big Wrestlemania match and not only does it get you pumped for the fight, it also makes you wonder what the result would be if it actually happened. It’s a mode that is certain to strike a chord with both current and former WWE fans. Much like the Path of Champions mode though, the only downer here is the number of matches on offer. If the other fights in Fantasy Warfare are as enjoyable as the ones we completed, then the 15 matches the mode offers just might not be enough.

WWE All-Stars will also include online play on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but unfortunately this was a feature we did not get to try. We did, however, get to play around with the Create a Superstar feature and you’ll be happy to know that is just as accessible and deep as ever.

Some people might question THQ for releasing another wrestling game, but after spending several hours with WWE All-Stars, it is clear to see that the title offers an enjoyable enough gameplay experience that is very much different to that of any Smackdown vs. Raw game. It certainly warrants its release, if only because of the superb roster and well thought out Fantasy Warfare mode. The lack of content could end up hurting the game in the long run, but if THQ are willing to support it they could have another successful wrestling title on their hands. WWE fans, watch this space.

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of WWE All-Stars were played for this preview. WWE All-Stars is set to be released on March 29th in North America and April 1st in Europe.