WWE All-Stars Preview: Past vs. Present in the Squared CircleBy Christopher Monfette - Posted Jan 19, 2011
At THQ’s recent roll-out of their early 2011 line-up, we had the chance to go hands-on with a number of titles such as Homefront and Red Faction: Armageddon, but few surprised us more than WWE All-Stars when it came to straight-up entertainment value. This particular journalist has never been a sizeable fan of wrestling titles, despite having been an overly enthusiastic fan of wrestling as a kid…So the ability to match my favorite wrestlers of yesteryear against some of today’s heavy hitters – with whom I’d admittedly less familiar – proved to be a blast in the time I had with the title.
First off, WWE All-Stars isn’t attempting to be a gritty, realistic wrestling game. From the very first moment in the ring, fans will notice the square-jawed, semi-stylized character models and the high-flying, over-the-top finishing moves. The old rules definitely do not apply here as falls count everywhere and there are no disqualifications due to count-outs. In fact, you’re welcome – if not encouraged – to take the action outside the ring for as long as you’d like. Overall, the gameplay is fast and hard hitting, yet for a twitch-based brawler, the controls are surprisingly easy to discern as you play through the first few matches. Mastering them, however, might take a bit longer. With combos, grabs, lock-ups, transitions, reversals, blocks and counters, there are countless maneuvers at your command, but after mashing your way through a handful of rounds, you’ll quickly find your hands developing some early sense of strategy.
Each of the characters – whether old school or new – are divided into four basic classes. Brawlers are stronger, slower, capable of jugging combos and charged attacks. Acrobats are faster and efficient at a distance, but take more damage by far. Big Men are slow, powerful brutes, and Grapplers are masters of timing and can easily chain together complex combinations of attacks. Charged attacks are powerful, stylized moves capable of staggering your enemies, while juggling combos will keep your opponent off their feet in a series of brutal, gravity-defying transitions. Turnbuckle attacks are a necessity when playing with acrobats and grapplers, and the old standby weapons – namely, chairs – can be used twice before your final warning will earn you a 50/50 shot at an immediate DQ.
Each wrestler has a peel-away, four-layer health meter and an energy bar to power your super-moves that fills faster the more creative and varied your attacks. Once you’ve reduced your opponent to a flashing red mass on the screen, it’s time to execute your signature finishing move, a bone-crushing, high-impact hit that should ready your enemy for the pin. But beware the mini-games in
. Everything can be countered and re-countered with quick button presses and timed bumper taps, elevating the suspense and necessary skill as the matches progress.
A few of the new guard we played consisted of The Rock, John Cena, Big Show and Seamus while legends like Bret Hart, Andre the Giant, Macho Man and others will be available in the final build. Each character felt unique and individual, not simply like revamped skins over a basic mold, and we imagine that players will very quickly adopt their favorites. And half the fun, of course, will be creating classic, long dreamed-of matches such as Big Show vs. Andre.
At the end of the day, WWE All-Stars is shaping up to be a wildly fun release for both hardcore wrestling fans and casual, pick-up-and-play gamers. It’s treading a thin line between camp and realism, but it’s treading it lightly and with perfect balance. We cannot wait to go another few rounds with the game as it nears release.