Review – WWE All-Stars
Developer: THQ San Diego
Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP
Genre: Wrestling, Fighting
Rating: T for Teen
ESRB Content Descriptors: Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Violence
Players: 1-4 (offline and online)
Official Site: http://www.wweallstars.com/
Get It Now: Amazon.com, GameStop.com
The Scoop: Looking to offer an alternative to the sim-heavy Smackdown VS. Raw series, THQ has decided to take a second stab at a more accessible wrestling game after the lukewarm-received Legends of Wrestlemania. This time, instead of handing over the reigns to long-time WWE developer Yuke’s, THQ has brought in their San Diego Studios team to tackle the challenge. Oh, and THQ San Diego’s head producer is some guy named Sal Divita. You know, the guy who worked on such Midway games as NFL Blitz, NBA Hangtime and Mortal Kombat. This isn’t the first time that the San Diego Studio has worked on a wrestling game, though. Most of the team worked on Midway’s TNA Impact that was released in 2009. That game didn’t get the kindest of reviews, so the San Diego team is looking to redeem themselves with their latest wrestling endeavor: WWE All-Stars.
The Setup: WWE All-Stars pits 30 WWE superstars, past and present, against each other in the dream matches that WWE fans have always wanted to see. Who would win in a dream match between Hulk Hogan and John Cena? Is The Big Show a better big man than Andre The Giant? Can “Stone Cold” Steve Austin take down the “Celtic Warrior” Sheamus? Also, for the first time in nearly 16 years, players can take control of “Macho Man” Randy Savage in a WWE video game. All of these superstars and dream matches are in your complete control.
What’s Hot: WWE All-Stars looks to get gamers, both old and young, to pick up the controller and duke it out as their favorite WWE superstars. That’s why, as opposed to the Smackdown VS. Raw series, WWE All-Stars sports a simple control scheme that anyone can learn within minutes. The left thumbstick controls your character, while the face buttons are split up into two strike commands and two grapple commands. You have normal strikes and grapples along with strong strikes and grapples. While a strong grapple does a little more damage than a normal grapple, it also takes longer to set up. This can leave you wide open for your opponent to counterattack and turn the tide of the match in their favor. Signature moves are pulled off by pressing both of the strike buttons or both of the grapple buttons simultaneously, while finishers are triggered by pressing both the left bumper and right bumper together when your finisher meter is full.
There are three meters that you have to keep your eye on during each match: The first is your health bar. Your health bar appears underneath your wrestler’s name during the progress of a match. It starts off green, then as you take damage turns to yellow, then orange, then red. Once your final red bar depletes, the meter will start flashing. This means that if you get hit with a finisher, you’ll be knocked out. The second bar to watch is your signature move bar. This bar will increase with each strike and grapple that you connect with during the match. The bar is cut into thirds, giving you the ability to store three signature moves at maximum. One thing to keep in mind is that your ability to run is also tied to the signature move bar. If it’s empty, you won’t be able to run and pull off running strikes or grapples. The third bar is your finisher bar. Quite simply, this bar tells you how close you are to being able to perform a finisher.
In most of the matches, the goal is simple: Beating your opponent senseless and either scoring a knockout or pinfall. There are no submissions or count-outs in these matches; pinfalls and knockouts can happen anywhere inside or outside of the ring. Weapons are hidden underneath the ring apron, but you run the risk of being disqualified if you use them in any match that isn’t an Extreme Rules match.
Speaking of specialty matches, WWE All-Stars contains a handful of match types to fight your battles in: One-on-one, Tornado Tag Team, Triple Threat, Fatal Four Way, Elimination Rules (up to four players, including tag team matches), Handicap, Steel Cage and the aforementioned Extreme Rules match types are your choices. Steel Cage matches are especially fun, as there are no pinfalls or submissions. The only way to win the match is to escape from the cage. This works by climbing up to the top of the cage and stopping a meter in a designated zone five times in order to successfully escape. The more damage that you’ve dealt your opponent, the larger the escape zone will be on the meter. Of course, you have to be aware of your opponent at all times. You can be interrupted during an escape attempt and thrown back into the ring if you’re not quick enough.
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