WWE All Stars has been the source of much hilarity on this site - particularly through our insane competition, but I hope what doesn't get lost is just what a fun game it was. Thankfully JamesMacUsedMyHandle is here to tell us, in depth, what he loves and hates about the game so far.
And the best reader review each month wins a Blu-ray pack courtesy of Madman.
Take it away buddy.
WWE All Stars I like to watch wrestling. It started with Rock'n'Roll Wrestling (yeah, I'm old) and progressed to the "glory" years of the 90's. I religiously watched every WWE and WCW (yes kiddies, there used to be more than one Sports Entertainment Company) show and pay per view back in the day. I even watched the scratchy ECW tapes that used to do the rounds. I'm far from the smark I once was, but I still read a wrap up once a week, and catch the odd show on a mate's Foxtel or catch up shows on ONE. So, as a semi-casual wrestling fan with memories of the good ol' days, I was REALLY looking forward to WWE Allstars.
Loved The Concept: I really should say concepts. There are two main ones at play here. The first is the over the top models and moves. Every other review has called this "arcadey" but I like to think of more as a "child's view". Absolute monsters of men performing spectacular moves is how a child perceives wrestling. THQ have just cranked it up a few notches, so even a jaded adult will go wow. The moves really pack some punch with slow motion, shock waves, lighting effects etc, and there are faithful and powerful recreations of signatures and finishers for all wrestlers.
The other concept is All Stars vs Superstars. This is just an excuse to go through the old roster and bring out some old favourites. This feature is what had me the most interested and doesn't disappoint. From the ring entrances to the moves, there are some spot on recreations here. It also sets up the Fantasy Warfare matches that pit current Superstars against original All-stars for titles such as "Greatest High Flyer". You unlock these by winning more and whilst the titles can be seen, the competitors can't. The WWE has used a little poetic license with some of the match ups, and half the fun is guessing who will be fighting. There are also 3 story modes that are mildly entertaining, but once you have seen the 3 cutscenes each contains, well thats about it.
The Graphics: While some of the faces are a bit suspect, all of the models are great. Every wrestler looks like he has been pumped full of juice and never leaves the gym. The entrances, the way they walk and move round the ring are all spot on. The effect for signatures and finishers reaaly adds to the "impact" of the moves and really makes you feel like you dealing some damage. Yes the backgrounds/crowds are a bit naff, but the arenas look like their real life counterparts.
The Controls: I spent waaay to many hours with THQ's No Mercy for the N64 and had heard that they were moving back to a similar control scheme. Whilst this is true for strikes and iniating grapples, there is no direction/button press for different moves once grapple has been iniated. The controls and ways to iniate signatures and finshers is simple enough, but there are no real instructions as to how to do different moves. Whilst i found this initially frustrating, it all lead up to a glorious "Ah-ha!!!" moment were i worked out how to get diffrent moves. Very easy to pick up and play, but working out every permeation will take time.
Unlockables: Too many games give you everthing from the outset nowdays. If i'm going to grind out a game with every character at least make it worth my while. There are about 6 wrestlers to unlock, plus alternate ring attire for every wrestler.
Hated The Graphics: Yes I sung it's praises above, but the OTT models leads to a significant problem with collision detection. I think Hex summed it up best on the Good Game review in that all these beefcake men seem to have T-Rex arms. For all their bulk and muscle, they have tiny reaches. Once you get your head around it, it's not much of an issue. Can sometimes lead to clipping or moves being performed and once character will stand still whilst the other goes through the move and still deals damage. And whilst not specifically graphics, only about half of the movies shown before the Fantasy Warfare matches actually work. Not a huge issue for casuals,but as a wrestling fan, i was crushed.
The Match Options: There are a few basic options thrown in. 1 vs 1, 1 vs 2, Fatal Fourways, Cage matches etc. The option for tag teams is called Tornado Tag and basically equates to a 2 vs 2 match. Your patrner is always active, not waiting on the apron. This means in single player you have a permanent cpu controlled partner. No tagging in or out, no switching controls and perhaps the biggest opportunity they missed out on is no team moves. It is a sad reflection of the state of current real life tag teams competion i guess. Can't even make too many famous teams with the wrestlers provided. Considering Tag Team is a story path option, I feel that they really let this side of the game down.
Also all these spectacular moves and character models and no TLC. TRAVESTY!!!!!!!!!!!
The Create a Superstar: Ok, this is my big whinge. The coolest thing about No Mercy was, because THQ had the WCW license before making it, every single WCW animation was available. Ring walks, entrances, move sets were all spot on and available. They somehow even got a few ECW animations in. Then the costumes/props were endless. I spent HOURS faithfully recreating every wrestler imaginable. I even used real height and weight info from all my wrestling magazines. THQ had a perfect opportunity to allow us to make all the stars that didn't make the cut and failed miserably. This definitely seems more slanted to the casual fan. Example: selectable custom outfits 6, selectable stupid hats 30+. Can't even individualize move sets, just those of your "favourite" superstar. In short, if you are looking to make your all time favourite who didn't make the cut, your chances are slim. If you want to make a silly character with a stupid hat and someone else's exact move set, then this is the mode for you!
In summary, if you are a wrestling or fight game fan, there is a lot to like about this game. The Fantasy Warfare is a blast and the Story Modes are mildly entertaining the first go round. The depth of the control scheme allows newbies to be competitive and more hardcore players to be satisfied that they pulled of a six hit juggle with a mid air grapple finish. I bought this for 360 and knocked over all game modes over the Easter break, but will still be going back for the unlockables and the cheevs. Kinda hard to recommend a purchase to non-wrestling fans, but this makes a great one night hire either solo or with a mate.