Platform: Xbox 360
Online Multiplayer 2-4
As a child I became a fan of WWE, which at the time was the WWF and was a time of greatness with Superstars like Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Jake the Snake, Mr. Perfect and quite a few more for any budding fan to gravitate towards. Remembering the over the top antics from the past and comparing it to the attitude filled drama that is now the WWE has probably made many wonder how the WWE Legends would match up against the current Superstars. WWE All-Stars is THQ’s answer to that question pitting some of the greatest wrestlers of all time against each other to find out who reigns supreme.
The graphics style is an obvious tribute to the classic arcade wrestling games where the characters are over the top with bulging muscles and bobble heads. Although not crafted in a realistic fashion, the wrestlers are full of details displaying the personalities of the WWE Superstars. John Cena’s armbands, Rey Mysterio’s mask, Ultimate Warrior's face paint and even Mr. Perfect's wrestling gear have been replicated perfectly. Animated actions like The Rock’s Eyebrow, the Ultimate Warrior’s entrance into the ring and Eddie Guerrero’s unique way of walking have been included to create these over the top wrestlers, but at the same time keeping their personalities and unique looks intact.
Furthering the over the top style are the combat animations, especially when it comes to special maneuvers that are highly exaggerated, with wrestlers jumping 10 feet into the air with opponents on top of their shoulders or wrestlers jumping from the middle of the ring to the top ropes only to jump back across the ring, jamming elbows into the abdomens of opponents. The animations, although unrealistic, do move fluidly and have no hold ups at all.
There are a variety of different venues to wrestle in like Raw, Smackdown and Summerslam, but for the most part this is cosmetic and will not change the rings greatly. Steel Cage and Extreme Rules matches will change it up a bit more with extra elements like ring bells and chairs.
A great treat for fans will be the Fantasy Warfare mode with a vignette about two great superstars and their amazing styles, pitting one against the other to find out who reigns supreme. Matches like Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Gurerro to find who the Greatest Flier is or Big Show vs. Andre the Giant for the Best Big Man. The videos that play before each of these showdowns are of great quality and use video clips from past and present to give you a brief biography of the Superstars. This is definitely a treat for longtime fans and perhaps something new for recent fans to learn about the roots of the WWE.
The bulk of the sound throughout the game comes from the sound effects within the ring and the ringside announcers voiced by Jerry “The King” Lawler and long-time announcer Jim Ross (J.R). There are other voice actors included throughout the game but since some of these great Superstars have retired or sadly, have passed away, we only get to hear their voices from archived footage. All in all, be it archived or recorded specifically for this title, the voice work is from the WWE Stars themselves and not hired actors portraying them.
The sounds of the ring are portrayed well as you hear bodies slam into turnbuckles, bodies crashing into the mat as they are closed lined and the all too familiar “Ding Ding” of the bell to begin/end a match, or in some cases as it is smashed into the head of a Superstar. The music present in the game is strictly used for the Superstars' entrance into the ring or when they win a match the music will play while they do their victory animations.
Unfortunately, the sound portion of the game seems lackluster and is missing a bit of the attitude I have come to expect from the WWE gaming franchise; but it is still solid in bringing the sound effects, music and voice acting together to bring the game alive.
I remember playing WWE games for hours on my friend's Nintendo 64 and the tournaments that we had were on an epic level that had us playing hours past our bedtime. The arcade style of these WWE games returns in WWE All Stars, which for the most part is not a bad thing, but does offer a couple of frustrating portions to the game.
On the basic level there are quick strikes and grapples, strong strikes and grapples, reversals and special moves. The strikes and grapples can be combined to form combo attacks that all start differently depending on the type of wrestler your Superstar is. Each grapple and strike will differ based on where you are in the ring, your position to your opponent and the type of grapple used (which can be changed quite easily).
Reversals play a huge role in WWE All Stars much like the arcade wrestling games from the past, where that perfectly timed reversal could turn the tide of the match and put your Superstar right back on top. Most moves can be reversed but it has to be perfectly timed to be executed and the timing varies based on the move. There is an on-screen prompt that will pop up signaling when you can perform a reversal, but that doesn’t automatically mean you will perform the reversal; it is just signaling the brief window you have to hit that reversal in before you get nailed with that attack. Reversals are my biggest problem with this title as it seems that the CPU will go on a reversal spree and end up reversing up to five moves in a row and this happens more often than not. Even when playing human players reversals are just too easy to perform and take a lot of enjoyment out of the game and a true wrestling experience.
Finally, there is your special move and each Superstar has at least one he can do; there are several Superstars that have more than that. Much like the strikes and grapples the type of special move you perform is based on where you are in the ring and how your opponent is positioned. The finishing move meter will have to be filled up or you will have to have some stored (tap the finishing move buttons to store) to perform your move. Keep in mind it takes a bit of time to set up your finishing move so make sure your opponent is weakened or dazed before dropping a Rock Bottom, Attitude Adjustment or Stone Cold Stunner.
Overall, these controls may seem quite simple and could easily be button mashed to succeed in the game, but there is a lot of depth to the controls and things to remember to maximize the damage your Superstar can do. The only other flaw in gameplay is that it is nearly impossible to pin your opponent, save from knocking them out with a special move. Keep that in mind when you are in a middle of a marathon match and building up your meter to perform a finishing move.
There are four different classes of Superstars that include: Acrobats (Rey Mysterio, John Morrison, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, etc.), Big Man (Andre the Giant, Big Show and Kane), Brawler (John Cena, The Rock, Sgt. Slaughter, etc.) and Grappler (The Miz, Mr. Perfect , Triple H, etc.). Each type has its own pros and cons, but it is more about personal preference and who your favourite Superstar is. Personally, I tend to gravitate towards Grapplers and Brawlers being a fan of Triple H, John Cena, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
In all of the matches in WWE All Stars there are some rules to get used to as they don’t always typically follow the same stipulations in previous titles.
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