WWE All Stars Review (Xbox 360)

Posted by Jim Cook, Mar 30, 2011 09:05

Arcade-style, simplified takes on a sport can be very fun. NBA Jam did it with basketball, and WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game did likewise for pro wrestling. WWE All Stars tries to do the same thing today, and mostly succeeds. Matches are played similarly to how they are in the Smackdown vs. Raw series, albeit with even easier controls and little concern for things like stamina or limb damage... and even most of the usual rules of wrestling are more like suggestions this time around. This is combined with a strong roster of famous wrestlers over the decades, a clear love of wrestling history that fans will appreciate, and enough variety in content to keep you interested.

WWE All StarsInstead of using complex motions like many fighting games, All Stars prefers to simply use as many of your controller’s provided buttons as possible, such that most techniques only require you to press one or two buttons and an analog stick direction. It works surprisingly well, with strikes and grappling moves on the face buttons, bumpers for deflecting those same attacks, and the triggers for actions such as running, pinning, or climbing the turnbuckle. It will take several minutes to learn all of them, but memorization is the only requirement; with controls this simple it’s easy to do exactly what you want. Matches generally feature two or more wrestlers pounding on one another until one runs out of health and is hit by a sufficiently strong move to knock them down, at which point it’s easy to apply a finishing technique or go for the pin.

What makes things exciting is just how exaggerated these simple ideas are. The game’s art style gives each wrestler comically over-developed muscles, and they’re put to use in slams and strikes that can send foes bouncing off the mat where they can be hit with a juggle combo. Signature attacks are every bit as ring-shaking, with wrestlers doing impressive acrobatic feats and carrying foes probably a good fifteen feet into the air for piledrivers, jumping chokeslams, and more. Very ’deep’, loud sound effects back this up; it looks and sounds like your wrestler just did something completely insane to their opponent, and watching this is a good part of the game’s fun. This sort of silliness precludes it from being a serious wrestling ’sim’ like Smackdown vs. Raw, but also makes it a more playful take on a fighting game; it’s more for wild fun than it is serious tournament play.

All Stars is well aware one of its biggest selling points is how much WWF/WWE history it draws upon, and the developers made great use of it. Not only do you have classic wrestlers like Bret Hart and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka competing alongside modern wrestlers such as John Cena, but most of them have their famous music and signature behavior well portrayed here. One mode even sets up ’what if?’ rivalries between many of these wrestlers, using well edited footage to make it seem like one historical Legend and one active Superstar have a grudge to settle and determine who truly is the best in their respective expertise.

That said, playing against the AI gets old very quickly. While not particularly hard to defeat, it doesn’t play at all like a human. Having about thirty wrestlers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, is only exciting if you have someone to play against. Fortunately the low learning curve and ease of controls, combined with competent online play, means it shouldn’t be too hard to find opponents. And if one on one matches aren’t quite your taste, perhaps tornado tag (two against two, all fighting simultaneously), four way free for alls, and cage matches may be more interesting to you. There is even a basic create-a-wrestler mode, and while it isn’t as detailed as Smackdown vs. Raw modes tend to be it’s at least passable. Overall, there should be enough content to keep you busy for a while.

WWE All Stars is a fun arcade style fighting game with a decidedly ’casual’ take on things; it’s easy to learn, and goes to great lengths to give you things to go "wow!" about. If you’re expecting a hardcore, tournament-oriented fighting game... this isn’t it, All Stars is here to be wild and silly. It will best appeal to current WWE fans, those who would enjoy an easier to control take on the Smackdown vs. Raw mechanics, and especially those who have very fond memories of the WWE back in the 80s and 90s; All Stars goes to great lengths to indulge such nostalgia. If you’re willing to accept that this game has traded depth for accessibility and you have someone to play with (the AI makes for a very boring opponent), then wrestling fans would do well to check it out.

For more video game reviews on this and many others head to Game Rankings

Our Rating for WWE All Stars Review (Xbox 360)
7.0 Replay
This is a reasonably fun game against other human players, and some single-player segments pay homage to pro wrestling’s history.
8.0 Graphics
Exaggerated takes on a wrestler’s physique work well with the wild, crushing attacks they unleash. There are a few animation gaffes to be seen, but on the whole it looks good.
7.5 Sound
Booming sound effects lend weight to the slams and strikes, joined by famous theme music for each wrestler. Unfortunately, JR’s and Jerry Lawler’s commentary is limited and gets old quickly.
7.0 Gameplay
Simple controls should have most players being reasonably competent in just a few minutes, and there is just enough depth to keep things fun. Significant loading times and a few technical gaffes are present, but more annoying than show-stopping.
7.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
This game is best played with others, something that All Stars’ decent online support should enable just fine.
7.0 Overall
A good ’casual’ fighting game for pro wrestling fans and those who enjoy arcade-style takes on various genres, WWE All Stars serves its target audience well.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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