Every year wrestling fans have the Smackdown vs Raw series to look forward to, however, now there is a new addition to the WWE franchise. WWE All Stars has arrived and it brings a completely different style than its aforementioned sibling. The Smackdown vs. Raw series is a simulation where everything is meant to be realistic and it is a game that hardcore wrestling fans can get into. With that said, WWE All Stars was developed with both the hardcore and casual fans alike. The casual fan, who might not watch wrestling anymore, will get a kick out of playing some of the WWE legends such as Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man Randy Savage and more. The hardcore fan will certainly appreciate that as well, however, they will enjoy engaging in fantasy matches that fans have dreamed about for years. This game will allow you to finally pit Andre the Giant vs. the Big Show as well as Hulk Hogan vs. John Cena. THQ was advertising this roster as being the greatest of all time in a wrestling game and it is hard to dispute that. The Macho Man, for example, has never appeared in a THQ developed WWE game before now. Adding him to the roster was a huge coup for the development team.
As I alluded to above, All Stars is a completely different game than the Smackdown vs Raw series. In WWE All Stars the game play is much more arcade-y and completely over the top. When hitting the Rock Bottom on an opponent you will see Rock jump about ten feet in the air before slamming him into the mat. If your opponent’s health is low enough than hitting your finishing maneuver will knock him out and you will win the match. If your opponent isn’t at that level yet it will, at the very least, cause a significant amount of damage that you can capitalize on. You also have a variety of special moves at your disposal, such as Randy Orton’s punt to the head. You gain the ability to use these moves by laying the smackdown on your opponent and building up your meter. Once your meter is full you can then unleash one of these special moves. There is a bit of strategy here as your opponent can easily block your attempt at hitting one of these moves. With that being the case you have to plan ahead a little bit to try and make sure you can successfully pull off the maneuver. The art style for the game is completely exaggerated with everyone appearing larger than life and some of the smaller guys, such as Rey Mysterio, looking huge as well. It is much more of a cartoon-y art style and it fits perfectly with this type of game. Wrestling fans will also be happy to hear that Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are the commentating team for this game. I have to thank the developers for replacing Michael Cole with Jim Ross. The game sounds so much better with the King and J.R. at the table.
WWE All Stars features your standard modes with standard, tornado tag team, steel cage, extreme rules and elimination matches. These are all really fun but you don’t have nearly as many options here as you do with the Smackdown vs. Raw series. All Stars does have online play and features your standard “Player” and “Ranked” matches so that you can lay the smackdown on your friends over Xbox Live or PSN. There were some instances where I experienced some lag while playing online. It didn’t happen all of the time, however, it was noticeable when it did. The story mode for All Stars is the “Path of Champions” mode. There are three different stories for you to experience here. You have the Legends storyline with the Undertaker, the Superstars storyline with Randy Orton and the tag team storyline featuring D-Generation X. Each story consists of ten matches. If you pick the Undertaker then you will be greeted by a cut scene with Paul Bearer and the Undertaker. After the opening cut scene you will have to work your way through nine matches until you make it to SummerSlam to take on the Undertaker. From a wrestling fan’s perspective this seemed a bit weird. Everyone knows about the Undertaker’s legendary winning streak at WrestleMania so why didn’t his story culminate with me getting a shot at ending the streak? Undertaker also brought out his casket for the match so why wasn’t the match a casket match? If you are a casual fan then you might not even notice (or care) about this but the hardcore fan base will think it is a little strange. All of these scenes were voiced by their real life counterparts which adds a sense of realism and authenticity to the overall experience.
The highlight of this game is unquestionably the Fantasy Warfare mode. This is something that everyone must experience. In this mode you will find a lot of dream matches that fans would like to see but will most likely never happen, for a variety of reasons. There is Randy Savage fighting John Morrison to see who is the “Most Charismatic” superstar. There is Jake “The Snake” Roberts fighting Randy Orton to see who is the “Coldest Snake” in the WWE. You have Andre The Giant taking on the Big Show to determine who the “Greatest Big Man” in history is along with Stone Cold vs CM Punk to determine who has the “Superior Lifestyle” and much more. There are fifteen matches here which fans are going to really enjoy experiencing. As soon as you pick which match you want to play you will see an amazing promo video that WWE put together. These are WrestleMania caliber promotional videos and they are the same type of videos that you would see at WrestleMania to hype up a big match right before it takes place. Even though Stone Cold and CM Punk never had a feud in real life, WWE did such an amazing job on these videos that you would never know that. It makes it seem like they are in a big feud and that is the point. These are also brand new video packages. Wrestling fans have never seen these video packages on Raw, Smackdown, Wrestlemania or anywhere else. They were created specifically for WWE All Stars and it really shows. It gives you the feeling that you are about to partake in an epic encounter on the grandest stage of them all. This is the mode where both casual and hardcore fans can come together and enjoy the rich history that the WWE has to offer.
No WWE game would be complete without the Create A Superstar feature. They did something very interesting with his mode for All Stars. In the Smackdown titles you could spend hours creating your own superstar as you select individual moves you want your fighter to have and you pretty much have total control. In All Stars they simplified it a bit.When I went to the “Move Set” category, instead of getting to pick what moves would be in my wrestler’s repertoire, I was told to select whose moves I wanted. Since I am a big fan of Randy Orton I went ahead and picked him so that my created superstar would have Orton’s moveset. Another interesting thing was that not everything is immediately available to you. When I went to select my finishing maneuver I found that a lot of them were locked. You have to unlock them by playing the game before you can use them with your created superstar. I was surprised to see that, however, I liked it as it adds more replayability to the game. As far as your actual superstar is concerned you get a decent amount of options so that you can create your ideal wrestler. Some of the more creative wrestlers I saw was when someone created an Orc that looked like he came from an MMO and also when someone created Ghandi. They both looked pretty amazing and it showed off the fact that while this mode might not let you fine tune every little thing like in the Smackdown series, it does have a lot to offer on its own.
When it comes down to it, WWE All Stars is a fantastic title. I really enjoyed the art style and it helped to differentiate itself from other WWE games. It is a great game that every wrestling fan needs to play. Whether you are a fan who hasn’t watched wrestling in fifteen years or you are eagerly anticipating WrestleMania XXVII this Sunday, it really doesn’t matter. WWE All Stars has something for everyone. Whatever minor gripes I have with the game are just that, minor. They don’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the game or the fact that I should be playing this for quite a long time. I would love to see some DLC in the future that gives us more Fantasy Warfare matchups. If you were a wrestling fan at any point in your life then you need to have this game in your library.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network