If you rip old t-shirts, trying to emulate Hulk Hogan, or strut around in hot pink wraparound shades because you think it makes you look cool like Bret Hart or decide to buy a replica WWE championship belt because US$300 seems like a bargain, then WWE All Stars is the game for you. The beauty of this game is that it features an over-the-top and cartoonish visuals and gameplay that do a fantastic job of capturing the unique essence of the crazy world of professional wrestling.
WWE All Stars features an incredible who’s who of wrestling from different eras of the WWE. The roster is split evenly between the legends and the modern wrestlers, and while it doesn’t feature the largest roster featured in a WWE game, it ranks up there with being the most impressive with some big names that haven’t featured in a WWE game for a very long time. The current crop of WWE Superstars are represented by names like John Cena, Kofi Kingston and Triple H, while the legends side includes luminaries such as the Ultimate Warrior, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and his opponent in one of the best matches in Wrestlemania history and arguably the most colourful character in pro wrestling, “Macho Man” Randy Savage. I was pleasantly surprised to see Hulk Hogan included in the game, as he is now a major player in a competing wrestling company. But it’s a great inclusion, as a legends roster wouldn’t be complete without Hogan.
The game’s visuals are a good representation of the type of game WWE All Stars is. It is exaggerated, colourful and the wrestler models are extreme caricatures of the real life wrestler, with big bulging biceps and heavily embellished features like Seamus’ hair which is spiked that high that it could probably impale someone. The wrestler’s entrances was a highlight for me, as it captures certain nuances that make them special like Hogan ripping his shirt, The Ultimate Warrior shaking the ring ropes and Macho Man’s entrance to Pomp and Circumstance. The entrances were short and sweet, which was great, as it matched the fast and frantic pace set by the game. A nice touch is the small details like welts forming on wrestler’s chests after being hit repeatedly.
Inside the squared circle, the action deviates from the realistic simulation style of the WWE Smackdown vs. RAW games and plays more like an arcade fighter. The matches feature some spectacular, gravity defying moves that are super charged versions of the real ones. Finishers and signature moves are given special treatment, as time will slow down to emphasise and add to the drama of the move. The matches are intense; bodies will be flying all over the place and most importantly, it is fun to play. The controls are simple to learn, so even the most novice player will be able to get a handle on the mechanics of the game and will soon be executing Stone Cold Stunners and Rock Bottoms like a pro.
The game includes two singleplayer campaigns – Path of Champions and Fantasy Warfare. In Path of Champions, you choose from three challenges issued by the Undertaker, Randy Orton or the team of Shawn Michaels and Triple H, otherwise known as Degeneration X. The cut scenes here are fantastic, and the Undertaker’s segment featuring Paul Bearer is the pick of the bunch. It does really well to capture the atmosphere of the vignettes that featured the Dead Man back in the early 1990’s.
In Path of Champions, you wrestle in ten matches, in a gauntlet style, that includes different match types like triple threat and steel cage matches. The downside is that it does get very repetitious, due to the lack of match types included in the game. It would’ve been great if it included match types that are known for their craziness like ladder or Hell in a Cell matches.
Fantasy Warfare is the mode that every WWE fan has dreamt about, as this mode pits WWE Legends against current Superstars of similar traits. Here you can play out matches that are only fantasised about like Andre the Giant versus the Big Show or Bret Hart against Edge. Each match includes a video clip that uses clips to highlight the similarities between the two opponents, and thanks to clever editing makes it look like the two are actually about to fight. These video packages were excellent, and had all the qualities of a WWE produced clip, including the voice over actor used in real WWE videos.
It is unfortunate, but the singleplayer campaigns in WWE All Stars are way too short, can be completed once through in a few hours of game time. The plus side is that completing the campaigns unlocks alternate costumes and hidden wrestlers. If you’re like me, and have to unlock all the costumes like Hogan’s Hollywood outfit, then you’ll need to complete the Path of Champions with each wrestler, sometimes twice to unlock their third outfits.
WWE All Stars is the perfect game to play with friends on game nights. You’ll spend the night trying to outdo each other with insane moves. Matches can only be won via pinfall or knock out. Knock outs are achieved by executed a finisher while the opponent’s health is flashing red, and to win this way is the ultimate insult against your opponent and earns you bragging rights against mates.
WWE All Stars is by far the best wrestling game I’ve played in the past few years. The lack of depth in match types and singleplayer mode is unfortunate, but the game is seriously fun and a joy to play. Add in the nostalgia factor with the old school wrestlers, and this game is a must for all WWE fans.