Unlike the annual WWE Smackdown vs Raw titles, which feature an expansive roster of pretty much every current WWE wrestler (plus some past legends) and every match type you can imagine, WWE All Stars’ biggest hook is giving you the best of both worlds – the biggest icons from yesteryear, including the likes of Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Macho Man, and The Ultimate Warrior; along with the best wrestlers from the current generation, such as John Cena, The Mizz, Kofi Kingston, and Sheamus. It’s a great idea, giving fans the opportunity to create fantasy matches between the Legends and the Superstars. However, it’s in its implementation that WWE All Stars falters.
The most noticeable difference in All Stars is the over-the-top design, which extends from the character design to the exaggerated impact of even regular attacks. Opponents will bounce off the mat and fly ten feet in the air from a simple clothesline, allowing you to pull off a grappling move while he is helplessly suspended in mid-air. You can jump all the way across the ring off the turn buckle and even moves like piledrivers and DDTs are delivered with superhuman power and added visual effects. It’s all intentionally unrealistic and it works quite well with the game’s overall art style. As if the wrestler’s didn’t look muscular enough already, their character models in All Stars are beefed up to at least five times their original size, more closely resembling action figures than their real life counterparts. Their facial features are also more pronounced; The Rock’s chiseled face and square jaw almost resembles Johnny Bravo’s, but at the same time is instantly recognizable.
Do you finally smell it?
All the wrestlers have their signature moves, of course, but the game expects you to know what they are and when they can be used. This can be a little annoying because as someone who stopped watching WWE after the Rock-Stone Cold era, I really don’t know the signature moves of most of the current superstars. Similarly, new WWE fans may have the same issue with the signature moves of the old stars, so pulling them off is often a matter of luck. Collisions have always been an issue in WWE games, and here, it’s worse than ever. Being able to land attacks on an opponent on the mat is hit-or-miss, and to make matters worse, if you’re standing close to him when he gets up, he’ll knock you off balance, making you lose the advantage in the process. It feels quite sloppy, and matters aren’t helped by a strange reversal system that again expects you to know what maneuver your opponent is about to perform. It will show you an on-screen indicator for when the reversal can be performed, but bizarrely, it expects you to press the required button before the indicator shows up, which defeats the whole purpose of the button prompt. It looks like All Stars is designed to be a pick-up-and-play party game, but these gameplay issues keep it from being as accessible as a party game should be.
All Stars is also severely lacking in the content department, and this includes game modes, match types and the character creation options. The SvR games have a fantastic Create A Superstar mechanic that lets you customize nearly every detail, but what’s on offer here is far more barebones. Barring exhibition matches, there are two game modes, and both are just comprised of a series of matches with very little else. Fantasy Warfare is the better of the two, pitting a Legend versus a Superstar in a battle of styles. So you’ll have Sheamus taking on The Ultimate Warrior in the battle or warriors, and The Mizz facing Mr Perfect to determine the biggest narcissist in WWE history. The match-ups are made even more interesting with the help of FMV profiles of both wrestlers before the match gets underway. The other mode is The Path of Champions, which I was hoping would be a fleshed out career mode, but is actually just a series of matches interspersed with canned cutscenes and culminating in an encounter with The Undertaker, Randy Orton or DX. Utterly disappointing.
Woohoo! I'm the King of the world
WWE All Stars held a lot of promise, but a lack of content and some bewildering gameplay decisions turn this into nothing more than filler material between two SvR titles. It aimed to be the NBA Street to Smackdown vs Raw’s NBA Live, but its implementation is more in line with the woeful FIFA Street games. Bring back Yuke’s, THQ!
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