Simulation gets the smack down.
Spotlights illuminate the smoke spilling throughout the massive arena. Laser beams point this way and that as pyrotechnics erupt from the entrance stage. Massive beings with the muscle build of a draft horse walk out to the cheers or the jeers of the frenzied crowd. Wearing nothing but a bedazzled thong and done up like they are part of the latest fabulous Broadway show, these giant meat bags snarl and growl as they make their way to the ring. Ahh, pro wrestling.
[image1]Now with the spectacle that the WWE brings to its audience, who wants to play a simulation-styled, real, and gritty version of this entertainment-first sport? I don’t, and if you do, then I believe that you are missing the point. THQ gets it, and with that understanding in mind, they bring to you WWE All Stars.
The first thing that strikes you with All Stars is the heavy stylization that went into the character design. We all know that John Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are big men, to say the least, but in All Stars their shoulders are easily twice the size of their heads. This immediately tells you that this is not going for realism; this is for fun.
The stylization does not end once you hit the ring. Wrestlers fly high as they do battle, juggling huge beasts in the air once, twice, three times if necessary. When thrown to the mat, they bounce ten feet as if they were on a trampoline. Streaks of color trail the wrestlers in slow motion as they execute the signature moves in their repertoire.
Coupled with this over-the-top craziness, the developers made sure to make the strikes and combos fairly easy to perform. Strikes are in two categories – punch and kick – which are further divided in to two categories – quick and hard. The combinations that branch from these strikes are many, as almost any button sequence will create one.
[image2]The arcade feel that comes from this is uncanny, as matches can come down to who has the quickest trigger finger. Block and grapple buttons are there too, which can lead to some epic reverse and counter battles. A peel-away health meter adds to the arcade experience, as does the WWE All Stars arcade pad that the folks at Mad Catz have made exclusively for this title. Time to stretch those fingers and get your button-mashing on.
With this total arcade feel, the characters are a little more sophisticated then one would think. They come in four different types to represent particular styles. You got punchy brawlers; quick, jumpy, high-flyin' acrobats; submission-style grapplers; and big men who are just big. All these styles are represented in the character list, which spans generations as well as forms. I mean, what would an all-out WWE game be without the likes of the “Macho Man” Randy Savage or gone-but-never-forgotten Andre the Giant? The new generation is represented by Intercontinental champion Kofi Kingston and Irish stereotype Sheamus. The aforementioned “The Rock” and John Cena bridge the time gap. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler give the commentary. (Who else would?)
The environment is totally usable. from throwing a player against the ropes and climbing the turnbuckle to grabbing the fold-up chairs and beating your opponent senseless. (Illegal, by the way. You get two warnings.)
You will be able to create your own characters as well, with all sorts of additions promised through DLC after the title is released.
WWE All Stars hits the mat on March 29th, so stretch those calves and get your spandex ready.