So, a week or so ago, I asked Eric if he was interested in video game reviews. It’s something I already do on my personal blog, so I thought I’d see if he was interested in having some for CCB. Eric was interested. More specifically, he was interested in wrestling video game reviews.
That’s no problem for me, as I love wrestling video games. As it just so happened, I had my copy of WWE All-Stars on PS3 sitting on the TV unfinished (mainly because I was working on numerous other games at the same time; still am), so I thought I’d pop it in, play through it and write up a little review. No one had written one on it for the site yet, so it worked out perfectly.
For those that aren’t sure of what WWE All-Stars is, in simplest terms, it’s NBA Jam meets the WWE. Part of the reason? The guys behind the original arcade smash NBA Jam were behind this game as well. As a result, the characters look ridiculous and pull off moves that defy the laws of physics. You have wrestlers who can do Mortal Kombat-like juggle combos before doing a finishing move that involves an insanely high jump, followed by numerous unnecessary flips.
Graphics-wise, the game looks great. The environments are very bright and detailed, and the characters are about as “larger than life” as they can get. As far as the sound, it’s pretty much what you’d expect: some generic music plays during the matches while Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler call the action. Not bad, but nothing ground-breaking, either.
As I said before, the controls use a pretty simple interface. This matches the game play. Honestly, this is about as bare-bones as a wrestling game gets. There is a mode called “Path of Champions”, where you can choose to fight either Randy Orton for the WWE title, the Undertaker for the World title, or D-Generation X for the Tag Team titles. Each of these is pretty much the same thing. You fight through nine matches (Orton-the new wrestlers; ‘Taker-the legends; DX-both) until you get to the title match. If you win the title match, nothing else happens except you get your trophy or achievement. The more enjoyable mode in the game is “Fantasy Warfare”, which has you fight through 15 fantasy match-ups, choosing either a current star or legend. The match-ups are pretty predictable, with pairings like Roddy Piper/Drew McIntyre, Hulk Hogan/John Cena and Jake Roberts/Randy Orton, but each match starts off with a nice highlight package featuring both wrestlers. Again, once you get through these 15 matches, there’s not much else to do after you get your trophy or achievement. You can play through them again to earn other trophies/achievements if that’s your thing, but that’s about it.
As far as exhibition modes go, again, not a lot of options. You can fight in one-on-one, tag team, Extreme Rules, Cage, tornado tag or elimination matches. And cage matches are a huge pain in the ass. You have to engage in a timed button-press minigame and hit it successfully five times before you escape the cage. Sometimes, you can hit all five fairly quickly. Other times, it can take you 10-20 minutes due to the opposing wrestler constantly pulling you off the cage.
That leads me to my next complaint: the CPU player. When fighting the computer, some of the wrestlers like Jack Swagger and Drew McIntyre are easy to beat. Other guys like Orton, Big Show and Undertaker counter damn near EVERYTHING, not to mention that they can kick out of your finisher no problem, but if you get hit with theirs, don’t even bother trying to fight out of the pinfall attempt. Some of the matches in “Path of Champions” I had to play 5-10 times over because of cheap play by the computer. Needless to say, it gets frustrating.
Finally, there’s the Create-a-Wrestler mode. Much like most every other WWE game of the last 15+ years, the CAW mode is in tact. However, it is the simplest WWE CAW mode you will ever come across, second only to WWF Smackdown! on PSOne. There aren’t many pieces to choose from to create your wrestler’s look, and the moves list is even worse. You can only choose the move list of other established wrestlers in the game, and when you decide which one you want, you are stuck with all of that wrestler’s moves. There is no other option than this. You do get to choose your own finisher, but again, you can only choose from the finishers of the established wrestlers in the game.
WWE All-Stars is overall a fairly decent game. Not the worst wrestling game I have ever played-that would be Beast Wrestler on Sega Genesis, but far from the best. While it’s graphics are good and the controlling is very easy to get comfortable with, the CPU is frustrating as hell, and your options (even the roster is limited-only 24 wrestlers to choose from, not counting create-a-wrestlers or downloads) are some of the most bare-bones options I’ve ever seen in a wrestling game. It’s great for pick-up-and-play, but if you’re looking for long-term wrestling gaming, look elsewhere (you can finish all of the main modes in the game once in probably around 3-4 hours).
I had high hopes for All-Stars when I first heard about it, especially when I heard that the team behind NBA Jam was in charge of it; I can’t even begin to tell you how many quarters I pumped into NBA Jam arcade cabinets back in the day, not to mention the hours blown on it over Sega Genesis and Game Gear. However, WWE All-Stars, while not bad and enjoyable in small doses, will never be the classic that NBA Jam ultimately became. Honestly, it felt like they rushed it out to make a deadline, and the game really suffered as a result.
I give it 2 ½ stars out of 5.
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