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WWE All Stars - PlayStation 3 Demo
WWE All Stars is just a few days away from its launch on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2, and PSP, but you can test the game out for yourself now by downloading the demo on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. How is the game looking less than a week before its release? Is this grappler for every wrestling game fan out there? Or will WWE All Stars only cater to a specific crowd? Read on to learn more about the game.
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The first thing I took a look at as I fired up the demo of the game was the roster. Though I was only able to select between Rey Mysterio and Ultimate Warrior, I got a good look at the rest of the WWE All Stars roster, which was faded out but still very visible. Legends such as The Rock and Ricky “The Dragon" Steamboat are present, as are some of today’s biggest Superstars such as Triple H and Undertaker. Newer stars the likes of Sheamus, Jack Swagger, and Kofi Kingston are also present in the game. Though 30 Superstars is a very small number for a wrestling game roster, most of the choices are sure to please longtime fans of sports entertainment. It’s a bit of a shame that THQ got a little greedy and decided to release a bunch of other stars such as Chris Jericho as DLC later on, though.
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Unlike SmackDown vs. Raw, WWE All Stars takes the series in a different, more arcade-like direction. The result: a brawler with the moves and personalities of the WWE and crazy, fast-paced gameplay. I played a few matches as Rey Mysterio, who falls under the acrobat class. Mysterio was fast, had plenty of springboard moves, and performed some really insane flips off the turnbuckle. As Mysterio, I had to stay on Ultimate Warrior, go for quick strikes and grapples, and then launch big running grapples and moves off the turnbuckle. When Ultimate Warrior turned things around, however, it was a struggle to get out of his flurry of offense.
Alternatively, when I played as Ultimate Warrior, was able to do a handful of power moves without having to worry about Mysterio fighting back all that much. Of course, the moment he got on top of the turnbuckle, I was caught in the ring with no way to avoid his flying attacks. This will no doubt add a nice strategic element to the game, and those who play the game with their friends are sure to conjure up different attack plans depending on their wrestler of choice.
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WWE All Stars features a more classic-feeling control scheme. You’ve got buttons for strong and weak strikes as well as strong and weak grapples. The L1 button on the PlayStation 3 controller reverses strikes while R1 reverses grapples. Once you’ve stored up a finisher, pressing both buttons unleashes your Superstar’s special maneuver. Something that I can see being a potential problem is the myriad uses for the L2 button. Actions such as executing pins, exiting and entering the ring, searching for weapons, and picking weapons up are all mapped to the L2 button, and though it didn’t happen once during my play-through of the demo, I can already see players going for pins near the ropes only to accidentally exit the ring.
Something that was problematic with the controls was the length it took wrestlers to perform moves. Once your opponent starts pounding away on you, it becomes increasingly difficult to move away or reverse moves. Also, if you go for strong grapples, you really need to time your attacks wisely, because the animation for performing these moves is lengthy enough for your opponent to simply perform a quick strike and cut you off. Though this was likely a design choice, it can still be frustrating at times.
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Though I only got to see two characters and one arena, I got a pretty good idea of what to expect from the game. Superstars in the entire WWE All Stars roster are bulky and cartoon-like in their appearance, and even smaller wrestlers like Rey Mysterio look excessively muscular. It’s an interesting design choice that really lends itself to the arcade aspect of the game. The arena I played in looked fairly standard, but the audience was a disappointing, blurry mess. THQ, it’s 2011. How about a detailed audience in one of your wrestling games?
One aspect of the presentation that immediately stood out to me was the sound. Aside from some generic music playing in the background, Jerry “The King" Lawler and Jim Ross provided fun, over-the-top commentary for the game. From what I heard during my dozen or so matches in the demo, gamers who hated the boring, dull, and just plain abysmal play-by-play and color commentary of SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 don’t have to worry too much. It’s not perfect, and there’s some repetition, but at least the commentary doesn’t sound as if JR and King were slipped a couple of sedatives before the matches. Oh, and for those of you who may be dreading the audience's reactions, there are plenty of lively cheers and jeers to go around. It’s still not perfect, but again, it’s a major step above the last WWE game.
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Final Thoughts on the Demo
WWE All Stars looks to offer wrestling game fans a departure from the standard SmackDown vs. Raw experience. I really enjoyed the fast pace and overly dramatic feel that I got from the demo, but I’m not sure if every fan out there will want to spend $60 to get the game on day one. It’s certainly fun, but the gameplay also feels very gimmicky. Whereas SmackDown vs. Raw is overly sluggish and terribly sim-like, WWE All Stars is incredibly hectic. THQ has yet to find a good middle ground. If you’re tired of SmackDown vs. Raw and want a different type of wrestling game, try the demo for WWE All Stars before you commit to buying the game.