Hello, World Wrestling Insanity gamers. I wanted to stop by and post my review and overall thoughts on THQ's latest video game called WWE All-Stars. Initially I had hoped to have this article posted a lot sooner but there were many obstacles that prevented me from completing it sooner so I apologize. Anyway, excuses aside, thank you for your patience because the time is here now so grab a soda, sit back and get ready to read a review that is surprisingly honest compared to most of the reviews I have read thus far on the internet. Please leave me your thoughts or comments in the section below this article. (Please note: This review is for the Xbox 360 version of the game but also applies to the Playstation 3 version as well since they are completely identical.) Without any further adu, here we go...
The game's roster is small but nearly perfect. With 15 of today's biggest stars and 15 WWE legends you really have a nice variety of talented superstars to choose from. The highlight of the roster in the eyes of most fans is Macho Man Randy Savage, who finally makes his long awaited return to a WWE video game title after almost 15 years of inactivity. There are a few notable exclusions though such as Christian, Santino, The Great Khali, Dolph Ziggler and much desired fan favorite legends like Rick Rude and Demolition but that is just me being wishful and overly picky. Also it would have been nice to see some of the newer guys like Daniel Bryan, Wade Barrett or Alberto Del Rio but the cut off date for the roster was a lot earlier than it would be for the SvR series. Other than those few omissions I would dare say the roster really is one of the games strong suits and the next thing I talk about only strengthens that argument.
To add to the already great roster we will be getting some good ol' fashioned downloadable content in the form of more characters to play as in the game. The new cast includes Cody Rhodes, Dusty Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, The Million Dollar Man, R-Truth, Mark Henry, Jerry Lawler, Chris Jericho, Honky Tonk Man, Animal, Hawk, and for some strange reason Michael Hayes. No word yet on pricing or availablility but it is assumed that each character will be roughly $.99 each and come out on the PSN and XBL Marketplace very soon. The Honky Tonk Man however, will be free to download as he was unlocked by the WWE Universe on the All-Stars Facebook application before the game released. The only negative about the DLC is the fact that they will not have alternate attires like everyone on the retail disc roster has but I guess that can be overlooked since we are getting the best versions of each character as according to the feedback the fanbase has given. But really though, why is Michael Hayes in this game again?
One of the best features of WWE All-Stars is the smooth gameplay that goes full throttle for the player at all times. Although this game has had many comparisons to the failed TNA Impact game from a few years back All-Stars has taken chicken shit and turned it into chicken salad as Brock Lesnar would say five hundred times an hour. All-Stars has a very fast paced and arcade style feel to it and like James Guttman said on a recent audio, it would have made for a great coin-op game in an arcade environment. I agree with that assesment but also believe that the game is deeper than most will give it credit for. It feels like a hybrid of a fighting game with a wrestling theme. The reversal system takes some getting used to but really makes matches a lot more fun once you get the hang of the timing. Every move in the entire game is reversable and the key is figuring out when the best time to press the counter button before or during the animation. Signature moves only require pressing down two buttons at the same time to execute while finishers are done the same way with the bumper buttons. This really is a pick up and play game like THQ claimed it would be. It's easy for noobs and challenging for veterans on the higher difficulties. I really have no complaints about the gameplay and believe that it carries the bulk of the All-Star fun factor on it's back.
Another pro for All-Stars is the graphics. I know that most people, myself included, prefer the more realistic look of the Smackdown v.s. Raw franchise over what All-Stars offers but when you sit back and look at the big picture you'll realize that THQ is trying to give us an over the top experience with All-Stars and the graphics you see are perfect for what they are trying to accomplish. All the characters look larger than life and actually resemble those old WWF figures that came out in the late 90's called the Maximum Sweat series. When performing a signature or finishing move you will see trails of colors associated with that character trail their body as the execute the manuever. It is a really nice touch and adds color to an otherwise already beautiful game. Since I understand what THQ was trying to accomplish with this game I cannot find any reasons to complain about the graphics at all.
One of the things that kept me from putting out this review much sooner was the fact that I really wanted to try out the online feature of All-Stars for a while before I made an opinion on it. After playing for a couple of days I have to say that the online is simply average at best. The gameplay is pretty smooth depending on if you have a decent connection just like in most fighting games but if you connect with a player who has a bad connection you may as well quit. Input lag is a bitch in most games and All-Stars is no different. Sometimes you will attempt to do a grapple but the game doesn't react for about 2 or 3 seconds after a button press causing a slow motion looking animation to occur. Overall it's not as bad as it sounds and only happened to me about 3 in every 10 matches I played. One other negative is the long waiting times it takes to start a match from the online lobby, in one case it took nearly 5 minutes once the host pressed start to begin the bout. If I had to sum up my online experience I would say it's not horrible but also nowhere near the level it should and could be. Finally, the whole online element is extremely generic. There is absolutely no reason to play online versus offline unless you wish to play with friends or strangers. Hopefully if a sequel is made they will improve this aspect of the game and maybe add some more reasons to hop online and play for a longer period of time.
This is an easy one for me to talk about. When playing with friends this game is one of the best experiences a wrestling fan and gamer can get. The pace is so fast and frantic that bodies will be flying around through the air in ways you've never seen before. One of the coolest things about the game that I haven't mentioned yet is the character classes. There are highflyer, brawler, technical and powerhouse characters to pick from. Each class has it's own unique ability such as when using a highflyer your speed increases and you can springboard off the top rope with grace. When choosing a technical fighter you will be able to smoothly chain together combos and reverse things much easier. Brawlers brawl obviously and have a bonus damage in their punches and kicks. The powerhouse or big man class allows them to not be knocked to the ground very often and makes all their attacks very powerful. The reason I included the character classes in the fun factor discussion is because I truly feel that one contributing factor to the fun for me was learning the pros and cons of each class. Everyone will have their favorites and preference but what is neat about it is that it requires the player to strategically select their character when facing a certain person instead of having an easy time using anyone against everyone. The fun factor is there for me with All-Stars and I strongly believe that in future installments of the game it will only improve drastically in the best of ways.
I really loved the game. I played it nonstop until I did everything I could in the single player experience. Then I hopped online and it really wasn't anything special so I became a little disappointed. My honest opinion is that if you see All-Stars for a price below $40 new and under $30 used I would highly suggest giving it a chance, especially if you are a big WWE fan. It simply doesn't have the amount of content I would call worthy of a full priced game. However, one of the selling points I can give you without question is the fact that this game is fun, easy to play and amazing if you often have friends over and play local multiplayer. Seeing that this is THQ’s first entry into this new series I can only hope they go forward and perfect the All-Stars franchise eventually. Being a brand new game always presents problems or inperfections and this game is no different. I have faith that in the future fans and haters alike will all enjoy future installments of WWE All-Stars once THQ manages to improve all the little things that are wrong with this debut effort. Realistically you are getting about a 10 hour experience with this game total to complete the entire offline portion of it and countless hours online if you like it. If I had to rate this game I would give it a 7.5 out of 10. I really liked it and my complaints aren't that terrible or enough to warrant calling it a bad game. Truth be told, it's a great game that simply needs more content and a better online experience to be a complete package for full price. If you take one thing away from my review please remember that WWE All-Stars is a video game experience you won'
t want to miss but mainly when you can catch it at a decent, low sale price.
In closing I must give a big shout out and thanks to THQ's community manager and SvR producer, Marcus Stephenson, @ www.twitter.com/stephensonmc for hooking me up with All-Stars so I can make this review happen much easier. I really hope that everyone will give WWE All-Stars a chance when it's within their budgets because I truly believe it is a fun game that shouldn't be ignored even if you are not a wrestling (or entertainment) fan. Given how this game turned out, I am really excited for WWE Smackdown v.s. Raw 2012 later this year and hopefully WWE All-Stars 2 down the line at some point.
Please be sure to leave some feedback and let me know what you think about WWE All-Stars. Follow me on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/rdlee and send me your thoughts, comments, critiques, or love if you will. The future of WWE gaming is bright and I look forward to watching it grow more and more each year alongside the rest of you. Thank you so much for reading as usual and remember to always "Stay Classy".