Review: WWE All Stars PDF Print E-mail

Unlike the annual WWE Smackdown vs Raw game installment, WWE All Stars takes the wrestling game genre to a whole new level. It strips away all the realism and technical gameplay elements of the former games and replaces it with cartoony graphics and physics elements.

The result is an addictively fun button mashing beat-em-up, worthy of both some solitary hours of gameplay and a slot in any gaming party roster.

Watching WWE wrestling has been my secret vice for years, my “man soapie”.  So it was an easy segue to play the WWE Smackdown vs Raw games. The WWE games, unlike many other in the fighting genre, found a balance between simple enough for a layman to pick up a controller, button mash and win a match, and a focused gamer to pour countless hours into the game and become a lean mean fighting machine. WWE All stars is all that, on meth.

WWE All Stars throws out the regular formulae of realistic physics and motion, and replaces all your favourite wrestlers with cartoon versions. As the title suggests, the roster is filled with all your current wrestling favourites – John Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton and co, supplemented with a bunch of wrestlers that inspired me into the love of my ‘soapie’ – Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Andre the giant and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Special moves now take on a whole new dimension. For example John Cena’s "FU" means tossing someone three stories in the air before slamming into the floorboards.

There are plenty of game modes to choose from, with a multitude of play modes ranging from one-on-one, handicap matches to extreme rules matches (there’s nothing like slamming a metal chair into your opponent’s head). There are also three story modes and a host of classic match-ups, aptly labeled ‘fantasy warfare’ pitting current and old stars with similar skills against each other -- more than enough to keep you busy for ages.

And if playing against your friends or the AI becomes too boring, you can try almost all of the game modes online. With almost no lag, I was highly impressed with the online experience. Losing all of the online games I played online though highlighted that the game isn’t as simple as I thought.

The game mechanics are pretty simple with only a punch or grab as your primary attacks. Performing special moves, jumping from turnbuckles and even grabbing metal chairs outside the ring are so intuitive that the in-game tutorials in the form of popup messages are more than enough to set you on your way. That being said, mastering the game is not that easy. While button mashing is a reasonable approach, timing of your attacks and counter attacks are crucial.

WWE All Stars is to the WWE game universe as Mario Karts is to Forza Motorsport, It’s a simple ‘dumbed down’ version of a game that’s still quite technical to master. The game mechanics make it fun and easy pick up when playing your friends and yet challenging enough to warrant hours of gameplay. A must have for any fan of the genre.

Pros: Easy to play – difficult to master; great party game; very little lag for online gameplay; variety of modes; roster comprises of all-time WWE greats; 4 man local multiplayer.
Cons: Storyline is almost non-existent; will only appeal to WWE gaming fans.
Rating: 8/10
Price: R499 (Xbox 360 and PS3)
Contact: Ster Kinekor - 011 445 7700

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