WWE All Stars brings a host of past and present lyrca-clad superstars to your console with a new visual style and gameplay direction, but does it beat the other wrestling games into submission?
Wrestling games traditionally have a large assembly of current brutes available to throw in the ring from the off, the main difference here being the roster itself and their aesthetics. The 30-man line-up compromises of 15 current super stars and 15 legends of WWE past, all of which are rendered in the Unreal 3 Engine with comic graphical tones and feature exaggerated limbs - but a small group of them are locked from the start.
The line-up of wrestlers includes Hulk Hogan, The Rock and The Undertaker, but the term All-Stars must be taken with a pinch of salt. A number of relatively unknown fighters such as Kofi Kingston, Sheamus and John Morrison make an appearance, with the former two appearing in the numerous loading screens (and there are a lot of them) alongside true greats, making a mockery of the game’s title. The British Bulldog, Goldberg and Ric Flair are just a few of the numerous omissions from the game; one can only hope that DLC will offer satisfactory additions.
Over the Top Rope
The game takes a much more arcade-y approach in terms of gameplay and presentation than we've seen in recent games. The ring entrances of wrestlers are cut short (although marred by loading screens before and after if switched on) and the standard melee moves are the main form of attack, with reversals being the counterpart in defence.
Players of the previous wrestling games will have to become accustomed to the perceptibly simplified controls which allow greater depth, dependant on the situation. For instance, the player can perform a weak or strong grapple at the touch of a button, these grapples then allow one of a number of inputs to either rotate around the opponent into another stalemate situation or to perform a selection of moves. As mentioned previously, reversals are the main form of defence and are extremely effective. They are used to counter any of the above and can be activated by a precisely timed press of a button, giving either side another chance at getting out of a troubled situation.
The new additions though come in the performance of a signature and special move, both of which are tied to a gauge in the top corner of the screen which gradually fills as each fighter does damage to the other, and shows when either is available for use. Upon performing a signature move, the surrounding environment is de-saturated to subtle tones of black and white, whilst the wrestlers and actions being performed are followed by a coloured trail.
There are some truly devastating impacts as some moves launch the opponent several feet in the air, whilst others catapult the helpless victim to the other side of the ring. Finishing moves are similar in look and feel but require an initial “charge up” stage to prepare them and generally they aren’t available until a similar time as when the opponent is on their last legs. But, disappointingly, they tend to prematurely end a match via KO instead of the option of pin-fall.