|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP|
|Dev: THQ San Diego|
|Release: March 29, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
When you think of spin-off material, you probably think of things like Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Rayman: Raving Rabbids. These series have taken a small part of what made their source material so memorable and turned it into something that became popular in its own right. However, the danger with spin-offs is that they tend to do well, and can outshine their predecessors in some ways. I really enjoyed WWE All-Stars, but I can't help but hope that doesn't happen here.
WWE All-Stars has almost nothing in common with the SmackDown vs. Raw series, Legends of Wrestlemania, or anything else that THQ has produced in the last five years. The game takes the WWE and filters it through a seven-year old's perspective, breaks down the controls, and gives it some serious flair. If you are looking for "realistic" fighting, you won't find it here. If you're looking for mindless fun, All-Stars can help you with that.
The first thing you're likely to notice about WWE All-Stars are the visuals. The game looks ridiculously over the top, and seeing John Cena ripped in ways I never thought possible is certainly amusing at first. However, it's not until you actually get into the ring that the true scope of the game's design becomes known. You see, when you are playing All-Stars, it is supposed to feel like a cartoon, and the in-ring animations do a lot to bring this fantasy-style gameplay to life in an amazingly stylish way. Wrestlers fly high above the turnbuckles when landing signature moves, and do more flying around the ring than jumping. Special moves are embellished with red, blue, and gold flares, and taunts are played up to the nth degree. Everything here looks absolutely crazy, and that's just the way it should be for a game like this. Do I think every wrestling game should take this fantasy-like approach? Certainly not. But for a single-serving one-off game, I definitely enjoyed the ridiculous take on sports entertainment.
Although the visuals in the game range from silly to ridiculous, there is nothing funny about the battle system. The game uses simple arcade-style foundations that are easy to pick up and play, and you can tell that All-Stars is a game designed for gamers of all ages. However, behind its simplistic face, there is actually a deeper combat system that is a little harder to grasp. Regular special moves are easy to engage in the game, but there is a complicated signature move system that requires perfectly-timed button presses and the buttons not normally accessed when you're just beating up opponents. This can be a little more difficult for casual players (which is, from what I gather, this title's intended audience) to pick up, and I'm surprised that such a system was even implemented. Couple that with a lightning-fast reaction-based reversal system, and I wonder how much older (or younger) players will get out of the battle system when they are playing at higher levels, other than the odd kick or punch. Though I can see where they were going with the battle system, I think it tries to be too many things to too many players, and ends up not pleasing anyone definitively.