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WWE All Stars
Being a wrestling fan for a good portion of my life, I'd be lieing if a never thought up some dream matches between past and present WWE superstars. I have thought how cool it would be to see The Big Show slug it out with Andre the Giant, or Randy Orton throw down with Stone Cold Steve Austin. With WWE All Stars for the Xbox 360, now some of the greatest matches that never happened can be played out in the luxury of your own home. THQ, who is most popular with wrestling fans for their Smackdown vs Raw series, has branched out to create a completely new title that strays from the realistic simulation style of the Smackdown vs Raw series, and goes over the top with character models and gameplay style all in order to bring a fast paced and fun experience to wrestling fans.
WWE All Stars features a lineup of not only some of the most popular WWE Superstars of today, but they jam pack it full of WWE Legends from the last few decades. Along with current big guns like John Cena, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio, WWE All Stars goes back in time brining the likes of Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Mr. Perfect in to today to create some of the biggest matchups in the history of sports entertainment.
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WWE All Stars has a variety of game modes to dive into. For starters, there is the exhibition mode which allows you to choose from five different match types; a standard match, a tornado tag team match, a steel cage match, an extreme rules match and an elimination match. You can pick any combination of wrestlers and match them up against each other to create any of the matches above by yourself or some friends offline or on Xbox Live.
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Take On Some of the WWE's Best for Their Titles
The story mode in WWE All Stars, if it can really be called that, is the path of champions. Here you can choose to go after either the World Heavyweight Championship held by the Undertaker, the WWE Championship held by Randy Orton or the World Tag Team Championships held by Triple H and Shawn Michaels (Degeneration X). In order to get a shot at the titles you have to win 10 matches in a row. Each path of champions starts out with a short promo/message from the superstar you are pursuing, but that's about all there is in terms of a story.
After the inital promo, you basically take on 10 matches in a row against other competitors. It would have been nice to have a little more build up to the final matches instead of just match after match. It starts off strong, but becomes repetitive a few matches in.
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Who Knew Warfare Could Be So Fun
The bread and butter of WWE All Stars is the fantasy warfare game mode. This is where a WWE Legend is matched up against a current WWE Superstar in a dream match. Not only do you get to see two wrestlers face each other that may never get the opportunity in real life, but you are also given an amazing video package hyping the feud. Some of the matches, like the CM Punk versus "Stone Cold" Steve Austin match are packaged together so well that if you didn't follow the WWE, then you would probably think this feud actually happened. It puts Stone Cold's beer drinking antics against CM Punk's straight edge lifestyle.
Other matchups include The Big Show versus Andre The Giant in a battle of who's the biggest superstar and Hulk Hogan versus John Cena just to name a few. The effort put into all of the video packages that build up each match really shows the enthusiasm and love THQ has for the world of sports entertainment. They could have easily done a brief video profile, but tying the video clips together to make it feel like a real feud is superbly done. It is definitely the most imporessive part of the game and it draws you into the match.
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Create Your Own Legend
Along with these modes there is a create a wrestler mode which allows you to create your own superstar and battle him out in the path of champions or exhibition modes. The mode is fairly cut and dry and the clothing and accessory options are pretty slim, but it's fun to try and create an insane wrestler of your own liking
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MultiplayerThe multiplayer option in WWE All Stars allows you to either stay offline and play with your friends or take your game on to the Xbox Live community and duke it out with players from around the world in the same type of matches that are listed in the exhibition mode. Though there isn't much to it, it is still fun being able to wrestle with your favorite legends or superstars in a party with your friends. It would have been nice to see THQ incorporate a belt system of some sort or maybe online tournaments just to get out of repetition of the few match types. On the plus side, you can take your created wrestlers online to show them off against other users, which is always fun.
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The visuals in WWE All Stars is nothing short of over the top. If you thought wrestlers were big on television, wait until you see them in the game. Every aspect of the the game is exaggerated and it's done so in a pretty entertaining way. The muscles are huge, and the character models almost resemble some of the older wrestling action figures.
The wrestlers aren't the only thing that is over the top. The moves in WWE All Stars are also exagerrated and insanely fun to watch. Sure you could body slam a guy with Hogan, but how about jumping 15 feet in the air first and bringing your opponent slamming down.
The approach by THQ is a great mixture of the current authentic WWE style of broadcasting mixed with the old bright colors and huge personalities of the WWE in the 1980s and 90s. It's a lot of fun for the eyes and just compliments the arcade style of gameplay. I do wish the entrances were a little longer, because it's so fun seeing the larger than life characters come out to their classic or current theme musics, it's just a bummer you only get about 15 seconds of enjoyment.
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SoundAll of the sounds, music and voices in WWE All Stars are WWE authentic. Though all of the musical entrances are there for the WWE Superstars and WWE Legends, it would have been nice to have them last longer during entrances so you can hear some of your favorite legends' entrance music. The narration during the fantasy warfare video packages are superb and really feel like an actual video package from a feud in WWE history. Jerry "The King" Lawler and Jim Ross are making the calls during the matches, and though their enthusiastic, you'll hear repeated lines pretty often. They don't feel like they're actually at ringside announcing feeding off of each other. It feels much more like just lines were read and the mixed together for different cues. The commentary doesn't hurt the game, but you could just as easily turn them off without feeling like you're missing out on much. It does give just a little more to the WWE television experience.
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Maybe Voice Overs Aren't Your Strength
The voice acting during the story mode is done by wrestler's themselves, but some are entertaining while others feel a little unmotivated. Paul Bearer has his high pitched personality during Undertaker's promo, while Randy Orton feels like he's just reading some lines with little motivation. Triple H and Shawn Michaels make their attempt to recreate some of their comical bits like self promoting products, but they still feel a little hit or miss.
The WWE crowd is lively and when the matches start you'll hear chanting for their favorite superstar. You don't quite get the pop from the crown during the matches, but you will hear chants and calls for Hogan, or Orton or Rey.
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The controls in WWE All Stars are far from similar to the WWE Smackdown vs Raw series, which I think is a great thing. The control scheme is far simpler to match the arcade style of gameplay, but there's enough depth along with it to allow you to feel like you aren't doing the same move over and over again. If you ever played any of the old THQ wrestling games on the Nintendo 64 like WWF No Mercy or WCW Revenge, you'll feel a slight similarity in the grappling system. You grab your wrestlers with a couple buttons, and then once you have them locked up, you can hit A or B or X and pull of a move. It's simple and fun. It really makes it nice to pull off a ton of big moves knowing you didn't have to waste hours learning them.
Finishing maneuvers and special moves are simply laid out and can be accomplished when you fill up your momentum bars for each. Finishers are done by pressing the LB (left bumpter and RB (right bumper) at the same time, while the two special moves can be done by either pressing X and A or Y and B at the same time.
The reveral system is ok at best, it's kind of hit or miss, but the computer won't hesitate to use it against you and do it often. As you increase the skill level, you'll find it tougher and tougher to get finishing moves and signature moves off. I do like the simplicity of all of the controls. After playing a game like Mortal Kombat, it was refreshing to be able to just pick up and only have to worry about a few buttons for fun combos.
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WWE All Stars was a pleasant surprise for me. It is a polar opposite from the gameplay of other wrestling games that THQ has on the market, but that works in its favor with the style and genre they are going for. A lack of depth in match types makes this one feel like it may grow tiresome after completing the fantasy warfare and path of champion matches. That's not to say you can't still have fun seeing all of your favorite wrestlers battle it out with each other, but it's only a matter of time before you're doing the same matches over and over again.
If you're a die hard wrestling fan, this is a buy for sure. Where else can you get a roster filled with as many legends and superstars as WWE All Stars does. If you are a casual wrestling fan, you may want to just rent this one as you can probably do all there is to do in a matter of a couple of days.
WWE All Stars is available now for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii.