WWE All-Stars Hits and Misses

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.