I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on WWE All Stars ever since I saw the demo played at E3 last year. My exact thought was that the game perfectly emulated how I played with my action figures when I was a kid. Wrestlers jumped ten feet into the air to deliver moves, punches sent guys out of the ring, and everything was over the top. I was intrigued.
I’ve played more wrestling games than I can count at this point. I have SVR 2010 for three different consoles for Pete’s sakes. Any game that brings together the legends of the past and the stars of the present is OK in my book. However, I was skeptical of this game for several good reasons. It wasn’t being made by Yuke’s. A good chunk of the development team were guys who had worked on TNA Impact. The lead guy on the game, Sal Divita, had only worked on one other WWE game, and that was Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. It wasn’t the best start.
Let’s see what we can glean from this demo.
1. Well the controls are interesting. The face buttons are completely resigned to attacks and grapples. You have a weak and strong variant for both. The shoulder buttons are for handling reversals, while the triggers cover everything else. L2 in particular has a myriad of functions. It covers pinning, entering and exiting the ring, climbing the top rope, searching for a weapon, and picking up/dropping said weapon. That is a recipe for disaster.
2. You get to try out two of the four primary classes in the game. Ultimate Warrior is a brawler, while Rey Mysterio is an acrobat. Several characters are going to have elements of multiple classes. For example, Warrior has some elements of the big man class. There was a definite distinction between the two. You could not play them the same way. Warrior did a lot more damage and could juggle Rey Rey in the air. Rey was weaker, but could do some crazy acrobatic stuff as well as go at a faster click.
3. Perhaps my favorite moment of the game is when I used Rey to back flip off of Warrior onto the turn buckle, performed a hurricanrana that went ten feet through the air, and then flipped Warrior into the tree of woe position. This left him open for some serious stomping, and looked absolutely awesome.
4. Special moves play a huge part in the game. For starters, they’re harder to pull off. You need to hit two buttons simultaneously as well as be in the correct situation in order to pull them off. Each character has four signature moves and one finisher. To use a finisher, you have to hit both shoulder buttons at once to charge your move. Then, when you’re ready, you hit both buttons again in order to initiate the grapple. I’m wondering how this works with characters like Eddie Guerrero and Jimmy Snuka, who both have aerial finisher.
5. The reversal system is both irritating and pretty cool. L1 reverses strikes, while R1 covers grapples. This is reminiscent of the outdated SVR system. It is a step backwards. However, there is some silver lining. You can get some pretty sick reversal chains going if you time it right. I was feeling pretty screwed when Warrior reversed my signature move, but I was able to counter his counter and land a pretty sweet DDT on him in response.
6. I want to bring up the controls again. They weren’t the most responsive or intuitive wrestling controls I’ve seen. I would definitely recommend that you read the move list before playing this demo. I’ve seen a lot of comments that condemned the game, and some of them were because that person just didn’t check how to do something properly. Still, a lot of the targeting issues from the SVR series have made their way over to this game. Running attacks miss too often, using directional inputs to perform specific moves feels awkward at best, and the L2 button is shouldering way too many responsibilities.
7. I don’t appreciate the entrances in this game. They’re short, and for most wrestlers, they start and end on the ramp. From what I gather, the arcade-like nature the dev team was going for didn’t support long entrances, and I understand that. However, it just takes away some of the authenticity. Why does Warrior get to run down the ring, but Rey doesn’t get halfway there? Why does Kane activate his pyro on the ramp? It just isn’t cool.
8. I absolutely dig the roster for this game. The only person I would consider outright dropping is Drew McIntyre. I find it hard to justify putting him in the game when people like Christian and Dolph Ziggler didn’t make the cut. The roster is also a bit small at only thirty wrestlers, but you’ll see why that is in a sec.
9. They are going nuts with DLC on this thing. The game still hasn’t come out, and there is so much DLC that it would add 33% to the current roster. This is obviously some sort of money grabbing scheme by THQ and it isn’t appreciated one bit. I’m curious as to what the pricing will be, because I want the Big Bossman.
10. From an overall standpoint, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad. When you start flying around the ring as an acrobat or juggling opponents in the air as a brawler, you’re having fun. Chain grapples were also really nifty. The controls are far from ideal though, and in my full review of the game, I’m going to take everything into careful consideration. I would definitely recommend that anyone interested in the game download the demo. This game will definitely not be for everyone.