Since its beginning, professional wrestling’s sole purpose has been to entertain fans. And, throughout that history, many crowd pleasing characters have slipped between the ropes and into the ring to face their nemesis.
Now, names from wrestling’s heyday like Hulk Hogan, Animal, and Andre The Giant clash with more recent starts like The Rock, Triple H and Kane in PlayStation’s WWE All Stars.
If you grew up watching wresting, are a fan of it now, or are a fighting genre fan, you’ll love this game. It’s a classic button smasher where combinations deliver flying elbow smashes, choke holds, leg drops, forearm smashes, and many more high flying and damaging moves.
The key to gameplay is learning the various actions of the characters, each of whom have their own set of specialty moves. For example, Hulk Hogan features his legendary leg smash. The are quick and strong versions of each attack. Stamina isn’t an issue in this game as the focus is solely on kicking the butt of your opponent.
During the match, players build up strength on a meter and once it reaches a certain point, you’re able to execute the characters signature move. Once the signature move is enacted, the game changes into super-slow-motion that accentuates the damage made to the other wrestler. While the moves aren’t hard to make, there’s a strategy involved in execution. As you can imagine, the combinations one player can make are pretty endless — from jumping off the top ropes, climbing up the steel cage, using a chair to smash in the head of an opponent, to mid-air cloths lines, etc. Everything you’ve seen on “real” wrestling is in play in this game, and then some.
The first gameplay type is a standard exhibition. This is classic wrestling where you beat on your opponent until you can pin them down for a three count. There are ways to tweak the gameplay, for example, instead of being able to hit your opponent only three times with a chair before being disqualified, you can turn it up a notch or two. Basically, the extreme rules allow you to go nuts.
Another gameplay mode is tornado tag team matches where there’s in fact no tagging and all four characters are in the ring at once. It’s pure mayhem, but also pure fun. Other modes include: elimination or handicap matches, multiplayer, and cage matches.
Winning is pretty simple. You have to hit your opponent with your finishing move while he’s out of health (indicated by the character blinking in and out of color with a red ring around him). Once you finish him off, your player will follow it up with a stylish pin — either standing on him or using a single finger to count to three. This also ends tag matches, so despite having a partner in the ring, if one character is out of health and is busted up with the signature move, he’ll get pinned and the match will end.
For those of you that want to take on real people as opposed to the CPU, there’s an online mode. The online gameplay mirrors the offline gameplay. However, I found that there was some lag time on my home network, which threw off the fluidity of the game.
In story mode, you can cruise down the Path of Champions, selecting three fighters and entering 10 fight stages which allow you to do battle against anyone on the roster (or any two characters if you’re fighting in tag mode). The cut scenes are what makes this mode interesting, especially the ones featuring the Undertaker and Randy Orton.
The last mode is Fantasy Warfare, which pits players like Jake “The Snake” Roberts against “The Viper” Randy Orton, CM Punk against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka against Kane, and other interesting cross-genre matches. The coolest thing about this mode and the 15 matches is the video package that comes along with it. The game shows a ton of footage from the past and present that really bring a nice flair to the game.
In terms of wrestlers, there are 30 — 15 current and 15 legends. You can also create your own. The customization of your character is based on the attributes of the current lot of wrestlers, so you can come up with some funky looking (and acting) variations, which of course, includes altering their skill set. Created characters can be used online as well.
Finally, in terms of graphics, the wrestlers look they are 1,000 times bigger than they actually are/were. Bulging necks, arms and legs are ridiculously over the top. However, it matches with the crazy, high flying moves you can make the character do so the look sort of fits. The only other thing I am disappointed in is the number of characters. I could easily name 10 or so more wrestlers that would have made a nice addition to this game.
Overall though, it’s a fun and entertaining fighting game that, for wrestling and fight fans alike, will produce hours of entertainment.
WWE All Stars is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for alcohol reference, mild language, and violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360, PSP, PS2, and Nintendo Wii.