WWE All-Stars Hits and Misses

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Posted March 29th, 2011 at 11:15 am

There hasn’t been a great arcade-style sports game since The BIGS released in 2007. WWE All-Stars hopes to change that with its over-the-top action, varied match types, and multiple modes that tie in current superstars with the rich history of the WWE. Continue on for what WWE All-Stars got right and where it came up short in this “Hits and Misses” review.

Hits

  • Fun Factor

Ultimately a game of this nature comes down to the fun factor and in the case of WWE All-Stars it completely delivers. All the different match types are enjoyable, the CPU is challenging but not frustrating, and head-to-head is even more of a blast. I ended up preferring the matches that feature three or four participants because of the chaotic but still calculated action and the removal of the long cinematics for “signature” moves and finishers. Either way though there is a great feeling of satisfaction when pulling off a win whether that be via pinfall, KO with a finisher, or escaping the steel cage.

  • Gameplay Design

Arcade titles have to strike a certain balance to be successful and most never are able to achieve that. WWE All-Stars though has the mechanics down nearly perfectly with an effective and responsive control scheme, strengths and weaknesses unique to every fighter, and strategical elements that can truly determine the eventual outcome. Reversals are rare, which might frustrate some early on, but it is actually a good thing that reversals are kept to a minimum. I just would have liked to have some sort of “feedback” display to know why I failed on a reversal attempt. The only other potential issue stems from “flying” finishers seemingly having an advantage over “grappling” finishers. Otherwise it is difficult to take fault with any of the gameplay design decisions.

  • Path of Champions and Fantasy Warfare

Check out the more comprehensive write-ups on Path of Champions career mode and Fantasy Warfare. Path of Champions in particular turned out great, with a series of ten matches that culminates in a “title match”, and the anticipation built through a few promos cut by the champs along the way. There are three “paths” that take about 1 1/2 hours each and there is reason to play them each multiple times. Fantasy Warfare has some very compelling and well produced intro videos setting up the matchups but after that they are the same as any exhibition match…though some of the wrestlers are unlocked by completing them.

  • Roster and Unlockables

Ten wrestlers, three arenas, move sets and finishers for created fighters, and alternate gear are all obtained through a process that involves unlocking them by completing Path of Champions or Fantasy Warfare modes. If the game got too repetitive or had issues that could lead to frustration but so far I’ve really enjoyed going through unlocking each wrestler or item and have found the experience to be worthwhile and add unexpected value to the package. Encouraging additional playthroughs also helps lead to obtaining more achievements/trophies. While there will certainly be names that were desired for the roster but didn’t make it there still is a compelling lineup of 30 wrestlers (plus DLC) and all of them are designed well and feel unique. The create-a-fighter mode also allows plenty of options for making some really interesting characters.

  • CPU AI

On default settings the CPU puts up a good challenge, I even lost a few matches on my fourth time through Path of Champions. Even more credit is due for providing competent CPU teammates in Tornado Tag Team matches (can completely rely on them to hold their own) and the way they handle themselves in the Triple Threat, Fatal Four Way, and Handicap matches as they pay equal attention to the other CPU participants as they do the user involved.

  • Online Play

Check out my full impressions of online play here. All match types are available to play online and even in “ranked” form with leaderboards. Created fighters can be used and up to four participants can take part in matches. Early experiences have been positive but performance will have to be tracked as the server takes on the release week crowd.

Misses

  • Commentary and Entrances

Going along with the over-the-top nature of the game is the high energy commentary from Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler which is quite terrible. THQ likely realized this as on the default settings their voices are washed out by the sound effects and crowd and become barely noticeable, so at least it avoids reaching a level of annoyance that Smackdown vs Raw series veterans know all too well. The entrances are well done but too short, and most disappointingly tag teams are introduced individually (even in the case of DX) and alternate gear does not change the entrance or demeanor in cases where it should (such as with Hulk Hogan).

  • Missed Opportunities

It feels a little like nitpicking to point out additional things that could have been great in WWE All-Stars when it is unrealistic to expect everything out of a first attempt at a franchise. All things considered the game really packs in more than would be anticipated given the circumstances. Despite that there is often the sense of “this would be great in a sequel” such as having TLC and Hell in a Cell matches, a Royal Rumble (could be fun in an insanely chaotic way), having ring steps and the announcer table to utilize, being able to fight up the ramp, and even having backstage brawls. All would seem to be realistic and worthwhile additions for the game should there be a sequel. “Path of Champions” story mode also has the potential to go beyond just a ten fight series, and “Fantasy Warfare” matches should have been differentiated in some manner from typical exhibition matches.

  • Downloadable Content

As arcade games have struggled to sell companies have tried different methods to generate interest such as dropping the initial price, offering lucrative pre-order deals, or choosing digital distribution. In the case of WWE All-Stars it releases at the standard $60 plus has reserved a full third of the roster to be downloadable content. It may be asking a little too much to expect consumers to shell out above that initial investment. This really would have been a great game for THQ to debut the new pricing structure they are experimenting with that opens a game at a lower price point and then tries to recoup the difference and earn potentially more through DLC.

Despite practically all arcade-style sports games falling flat at retail this generation THQ took a chance with WWE All-Stars and hopefully that creativity will be rewarded. It can be tough to justify a $60 purchase for an arcade game but this is the rare one that does by delivering exceptionally fun gameplay and surprisingly rich features.

  • Vance

    great review. im getting the game today due in part to your coverage over the last week and really looking forward to it

  • Opoppo

    Got it this morning. You werent kidding this game is so much fun. Best wrestling game Ive ever played.

  • Opoppo

    Got it this morning. You werent kidding this game is so much fun. Best wrestling game Ive ever played.

  • Jamez

    thanks for all the coverage pasta it held me over until today and the game is awesome

  • Jamez

    thanks for all the coverage pasta it held me over until today and the game is awesome

  • bze33

    You’re right about reversals. Ive read some reviews that said reversals were too hard to get but could you imagine how annoying the game would be if even half of the moves were reversed?

    • Yeah exactly. Like I said in the write-up I would have liked some representation of why I wasn’t getting reversals….I still don’t know what is off with my timing when I miss. Otherwise 10-20% is probably the about right for a game of this nature.

  • Chris

    Got the game this morning and I’ve spent a few hours with it. One gripe I have is the difficulty. For some reason I seem to get my ass kicked pretty handily a lot of the time. Even on Rookie difficulty it seems really tough to beat at times. This is especially the case in Path of a Champion Mode.. You’d think if it was on the easiest difficulty, you could breeze through it.. But thats not the case here. I’d hate to see how challenging it is on the hardest difficulty. Christ….

    • You’ll pick up on things the more you play. Build up the energy meters so you can get the signature moves, build up your finisher by taunting (if you have enough time to), and use them strategically. Save the finisher until your opponent is in the red/flashing red. Punch your opponent before they can hit a signature move, get a bit better with reversals, you’ll get there eventually to where you can win *most* on the default. At least thats the way it went for me.

      • WWEfan

        This game has plenty of reversals. CPU AI was throwing reversals left in right on me in Fantasy Warefare. You can of course reverse the reversal too. Any move can be hit with a reversal in this game. Just the timing is tricky. It’s like you gotta do the reversal as the other person is in the act of attacking and not when the reversal icon shows up.

  • You’ll pick up on things the more you play. Build up the energy meters so you can get the signature moves, build up your finisher by taunting (if you have enough time to), and use them strategically. Punch your opponent before they can hit a signature move, get a bit better with reversals, you’ll get there eventually to where you can win most fights on the default difficulty. At least thats the way it went for me.

  • ClemsonPoker

    I have yet to receive my copy (coming from Amazon), but just wanted to say that your coverage of this game has been excellent. I was truly on the fence as someone who enjoyed the Attitude era of the WWF, but has stopped following. Comparisons to No Mercy certainly helped, but it was your in depth coverage which made the decision ultimately easy.

  • LOL

    How can new wrestling games not have things that were in wrestling games on playstation 1?

  • konnE

    so glad i bought this game after being unsure cause of the price its sweet

  • Beechhound

    I AM ON XBOX LIVE BUT WHY DO THESE COMPANIES INSIST ON SCREWING OVER ANYONE WHO ISNT?

  • Reign

    DLC? oh well looks like I’m gonna skip this one.

  • Reign

    DLC? oh well looks like I’m gonna skip this one.

  • I found a huge Glitch its pretty simple to get out of the cage lol if u use macho man and someone is on top of the cage do your power move the Elbow drop and u will literally jump over the cage an land on the ground you dont win but its pretty funny to see lol when ur outside the ring u can easily get back in its like u will sliding under the ropes lol funny when i seen it the first time

  • Good write-up, Pasta Padre — I concur with your assessment. The truncated entrances won’t please all, though I felt that they were done to be as quick as possible while maintaining as much accuracy as possible, which can be a tough line to ride.

    The “matches to go” count, particularly on the DX tag challenge, seemed like a homage to WWF WrestleFest. All we needed was Hunter to punch the number breaking it from 5 to 4 (or whatever number) a la Road Warrior Hawk in WrestleFest to complete the effect.

  • Good write-up, Pasta Padre — I concur with your assessment. The truncated entrances won’t please all, though I felt that they were done to be as quick as possible while maintaining as much accuracy as possible, which can be a tough line to ride.

    The “matches to go” count, particularly on the DX tag challenge, seemed like a homage to WWF WrestleFest. All we needed was Hunter to punch the number breaking it from 5 to 4 (or whatever number) a la Road Warrior Hawk in WrestleFest to complete the effect.