#6 of 2011: WWE All-Stars

Posted December 26th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

The segment of arcade-style sports offerings has largely been dying out over the course of this console generation. There has been a resurrection as of late, with EA Sports bringing back NBA Jam and NFL Blitz in particular, but have done so by shifting them to to digital-downloads at discount prices. WWE All-Stars was a full-fledged retail release that delivered an immense amount of fun and content to justify the price. Better described as a fighting game than a wrestling game All-Stars not only makes the top 10 list for the year but plants itself right in the midst of some of the most respected sports franchises today. 

The ranking of games in the best of 2011 list is based on number of factors including the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take and one with the advantage of tracking the games beyond just the release frame and does not act as some sort of recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those high in fun factor while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.

Related: Hits and Misses ReviewOnline ImpressionsPath of Champions ImpressionsFantasy Warfare ImpressionsLeaving too much to DLC

When it comes to evaluating arcade-style titles the overriding element of importance is always going to be fun factor and WWE All-Stars delivered in that regard. Critical in achieving that was the gameplay design which struck a near ideal balance and created a level of necessary strategy. The controls were simple enough to catch on to and plenty responsive while still leaving enough there to reward those who put time into getting better. The the lack of understanding or on-screen feedback considering reversal timing could be perceived as somewhat frustrating but it should be understood that regardless the percentage of success there had to be low.

A variety of match types, all of which were enjoyable, also kept things interesting – there was plenty of content to run through. The CPU AI was surprisingly good and that is something that can often be overlooked in games of this nature. Online play was fun and ran well though people quickly caught on to some exploitable tactics. Path of Champions mode was worthwhile and Fantasy Warfare was intriguing but could have used more to it.

Where All-Stars lacked the most was in presentation. The commentary was dreadful – and actually seemed to be faded into the background intentionally so that people would notice it less – while the wrestler entrances were short and tag teams came out individually. Nearly a third of the roster was offered as downloadable content and doing so may have been asking too much from consumers who had already shelled out full price for an arcade-style retail product.

THQ had a big success on their hands with WWE All-Stars and there is all sorts of potential for the series going forward. Missed opportunities are typical of a first entry in a franchise and All-Stars had its fair share of them. However in nailing the fun factor right out of the gate and providing rich well-designed content it achieved the rare feat, probably last accomplished in full force by The BIGS in 2007, of an arcade-style title justifying its full price.

Earlier Year-in-Review Pieces
#6: WWE All-Stars
#7: NCAA Football 12
•#8: NHL 12
•#9: Fight Night Champion
•#10: MLB Bobblehead Pros
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