Although popular perception often regards professional wrestling as an insubstantial diversion, contemporary recreations of the sport deliver a involved experience. With complex control systems, intricate storylines, and aspirations for authenticity, most of today’s wresting games have transformed into taut simulation aimed squarely at aficionados. Lighthearted, arcade-inspired interpretations of the pastime, such as Saturday Night Slam Masters, WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game have vanished, while Fire Pro Wrestling has been unlawfully banished to the fringes of obscurity.
Mirroring the affability of a Smackdown broadcast, WWE All Stars returns the recreation to its unassuming roots, delivering a pleasing pick up and play experience. Wisely, players won’t have to scrutinize a extensive strategy guide to get each wrester to execute a satisfying slam or flashy finisher; within minutes I was initiating Irish Whips and spirited splashes with reckless abandon. Whereas most simulations require players to strategically monitor their stamina, All Stars scales the action down to a health and special move gauge, lending the title a unmistakable fighting game vibe.
Despite an easily acquired control scheme, players won’t immediately unearth all of the title’s nuances. With four classes of combatants- ranging from acrobats, big men, brawlers, and grapplers, each with different aptitudes and repertoires, WWE All Stars contains a remarkable amount of longevity. Juggling opponents with Andre the Giant requires a different approach than dispensing high-flying aerials as Shawn Michaels, in spite of the game’s objective to maintain a sense of balance. With a roster evenly split between old-school luminaries like Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Pipper, and contemporary favorites such as The Rock and John Cena, the game relinquishes a robust roster of thirty favorites. For better or worse, major omissions in the lineup will be rectified though DLC characters, at the current rate of a dollar per wrestler.
For solitary gamers, the title presents all the obligatory match options- allowing players to instigate Steel Cage competitions, disqualification-less Extreme Rules contests, or chaotic Fatal Four-Way brawls. Path of Champions tasks players with conquering one of three, ten-match sequences culminating in a championship bout. Unlike the game’s exhibition clashes, matches are often punctuated with invigorating cutscenes highlighted by WWE luminaries. Additionally, Fantasy Warfare generates interesting impetuses to pit classic wrestlers against the current generation. Seeing hard-living Stone Cold battle straight-edge CM Punk in a Superior Lifestyle match is certainly an inspired addition, elevated by some skillful video montages. While couch sessions of WWE All Stars have the capacity to kindle animated bouts, the game’s online multiplayer matches aren’t quite as lively. Regretfully, lag sapped much of the energy from the proceedings, throwing off the timing of the game’s strikes and reversals.
With rapid, well-articulated animation, WWE All Stars definitely looks dazzling in motion. Spectacular leaps off turnbuckles and painful piledrivers are delightfully hyper-realistic, often sending wrestling bouncing off the mat. While the game’s characters are rendered with the same exaggerated aesthetic, the end results makes the wrestlers resemble swollen, shiny action figures rather than embellished athletes. Likewise, the game’s commentary fails to reproduce the banter of a match, dispensing too many repetitive phrases.
Over time, wrestling games have evolved from straightforward, intuitive amusements into convoluted sims intended for hardcore fans. Wisely, WWE All Stars disrupts this trend, delivering a admirably pared-down title, which returns the sport to its accessible roots. If the game’s online component can quash the lag and give us a handful of missing faces and heels (such as Mankind), All Stars could take home the big, gold belt.