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More Face Than Heel- WWE All Stars Review

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.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

28 comments

  1. Deagle, you like wrestling?!?

  2. bought this on release day after playing the demo and I love it. One of the best wresting games since the N64 days.

  3. No Mick Foley? that’s really odd…

  4. Is there a game type that you doesn’t like?

  5. no mention of CAW, what the hell?

  6. I thought the demo was pretty crappy myself.

  7. $1 per Wrestler isn’t bad. I’ll buy the game when it hits $30. By that time they’ll fix there servers.

  8. Yeah, player models look real action figure like, but you get used to it.

  9. Can someone post a full roster of all the wrestlers in it?

  10. good review. Is Randy Macho Man Savage in there? How about Jimmy Superfly Snuka?

  11. dude mentioned Roddy Piper during a podcast, so I’d ‘sume so.

  12. yrp, I couldn’t figure out the moves.

  13. Here you go:

    Playable Legends
    Ricky Steamboat
    Andre The Giant
    Hulk Hogan
    The Ultimate Warrior
    Bret Hart
    The Rock
    Randy Savage
    Jake “The Snake” Roberts
    Sgt. Slaughter
    “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
    Eddie Guerrero
    Shawn Michaels
    Jimmy Snuka
    Mr. Perfect
    “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

    Playable Superstars
    John Cena
    Randy Orton
    Jack Swagger
    Edge
    Kane
    Sheamus
    The Big Show
    Triple H
    John Morrison
    Rey Mysterio
    Kofi Kingston
    CM Punk
    The Miz
    Drew McIntyre
    The Undertaker

    Downloadable Content
    Hawk
    Animal
    Dusty Rhodes
    Cody Rhodes
    Big Bossman
    Chris Jericho
    Jerry “The King” Lawler
    Michael Hayes
    Mark Henry
    R-Truth
    “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (Pre-Order Bonus Character)

    Commentators
    Jerry Lawler
    Jim Ross

    Voice-Over Talent
    Howard Finkel
    Paul Bearer

  14. reminded me of WWF No Mercy. Thats a good thing.

  15. Demo kicked all kinds of ass. I’m going to get this next weekend.

  16. I heard the PS3 load times are awful. Are the 360 ones better?

  17. Not a wrestling fan but I’ve heard this is good.

  18. Other reviews said the game wasn’t that clear and that the manual and in game tutorial was worthless. Which is it?

  19. How the crowd. I always liked in the old wrestling game where they would show signs based on who was fighting.

  20. Not a full price purchase for me, but I’ll keep on eye on it.

  21. I really liked the demo, and the roster looks amazing, so I might have to get this.

    How are people online?

  22. Are there different costumes? I know that sounds dumb but games like this should give us some variety. Well I guess the trend is to charge people for it.

  23. Maybe that can’t use Mankind, cuz Mick Foley is with another league.

  24. So Paul Bearer is only a voice, he doesn’t show up in the game?

  25. Surprised to see the score. I haven’t touched a ‘rassling game in a while, so maybe I’ll try this in the future when I have time and if it’s cheap enough ($60 is hard to come by for me, and it’s hard to justify it on a WWE game).

  26. I’m liking that its just as much of a fighting game as a wrestling game. Being able to interrupt ‘moves’ really helps things. But yeah, likes others said $60 is a bit too much.

  27. Yeah, i’m surprised by the score too.

  28. Seems like a good selection.