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WWE All-Stars Preview

10 Mar

Professional Wrestling games hit a peak of sorts during the PS1 era with the original (then WWF) Smackdown, the game which has evolved into the current WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series. Unfortunately for WWE fans, the series has stagnated. Matches are extremely slow, there are far too many control options for casual players to enjoy and what began as a fast-paced, exciting take on sports entertainment has failed to innovate in years of annual updates. WWE All-Stars looks set to change all that.

Developed in house by licence-holder THQ, All-Stars is a return to the glory days of wrestling games. The wrestlers look larger-than-life, as they should, and move with fluidity. While SDvsR sees realistic versions of John Cena et al. All-Stars’ wrestlers look like the steroid-enhanced physiques of the 80’s have made a comeback, it’s pure caricature. Clearly, someone at THQ saw the potential for a version of the WWE as over-the-top as what happens on screen, and it looks fantastic. Featuring a roster not only of current stars, there are also a host of past favourites, so this is one for people just looking for a fun game. Even if you wouldn’t recognise Sheamus if he walked by you on the street (and he’s pretty hard to miss) the inclusion of the likes of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant lend a certain air of nostalgia to the game and the style of play looks like what a child sees on screen.

The action is ridiculously over-the-top

The gameplay, from what THQ have shown, is fast and furious. Videos show wrestlers juggling others with punches, bouncing them off the ropes and into a suplex. It appears to have more in common with Soul Calibur than Smackdown, and that’s no bad thing. A control scheme ever increasing in complexity has hampered WWE games massively, so simplifying this and ramping up the pace is a much-needed change. It’s not that the WWE games have been awful, just that the main changes to gameplay made have added layers of difficult button combos to what started off as a system which avoided the slow pacing of the 16-bit era games. All-Stars looks to have some classic arcade-style gameplay, a throwback to match the visuals.

There are, though, potential pitfalls for All-Stars. Legends of Wrestlemania attempted something along these lines recently, and lacked depth. This game needs to have the level of immersion that the realistic editions offer, season modes and customisation. Without that, there may be little to encourage players to keep coming back to All-Stars. If the career mode that is included is reasonably robust however, this could be a hit. With gameplay based on combos, it seems a little like a mix between the classic WWF Smackdown and the excellent No Mercy on N64. The look is appealing, so if the developers can back that up with solid gameplay mechanics, we might see a game that doesn’t alienate all but hardcore WWE fans. If nothing else, it’s shaping up to be a fun trip down memory lane, both in terms of gameplay and style.

But enough from me, here’s the Macho Man Randy Savage to tell you more. Oooooh Yeahh.

And here he is on GamesMaster. No, really.

WWE All-Stars will be available on March 29th in the US and April 1st in Europe.