As previously noted in my round-up of “What’s New In Games This Week”, I’m a big fan of video games (obviously), plus a huge fan of wrestling, but when it comes to games based upon the squared circle, I simply can’t get into them, no matter how hard I try. For the most part, they’re way too complex control-wise for me, especially for something that’s (let’s be honest) based upon something that’s very much cartoony and often not very realistic.
The primary issue is how it attempts to paint a cartoon picture of the WWE, which oddly enough is one of the more realistic portrayals in recent memory, but simply doesn’t go far enough. Let’s take controls for example: the controls have indeed been made far more accessible and it’s not nearly as cumbersome as the most recent Raw vs Smackdown affairs. There are two basic attacks, strikes and grabs, and you’ve got light and heavy variants for each. Depending on which button you hit in tandem with what direction your analogue stick is pointed towards will unleash special moves.
Basically, I wanted more special moves that were specific to a particular wrestler, and essentially wanted a fighting game, which is generally heavily dependent signature moves, to accentuate the few basic maneuvers. As is, I found myself just jamming the buttons, with no real rhyme or reason. I just hoped that something cool would happen, the same way most 7 yr-olds go about an arcade game. Only difference here being that things actually did occur more so than in the past.
I suppose my biggest gripe is how inconsistent everything is. One of the key features touted is how during a three way match, if two computer controlled opponents are in the midst of a special move, like a finisher, you can interrupt the action and steal an easy win. Well, that rarely worked for me, as I found myself stomping on a body on the floor, with my leg going through the torso as if it was an optical illusion.
Another major annoyance is how my finishers never seemed to connect, but others, even if they’re coming from the top rope and I’m all the way on the other side, still managed to do so. Yet, easily the biggest annoyance was how brutally aggressive the AI is for the most part. Sorry, but when I set the game’s difficult to easy, I expect it to be easy, period.
Anyhow, you’ve got your basic exhibition matches, along with Path of Champion, which has a number of predetermined confrontations leading up to one specific wrestler. There’s also Fantasy Warfare, which pits one classic dude against a contemporary fellow and this part more than anything else sheds a bright spotlight on how lacking the current crop of superstars truly are.
What else? The visuals, which again make things more exaggerated and cartoon like. Everyone is supposed to (I guess?) resemble those old WWF toys in which everyone had gigantic upper torsos. This sorta works and it sorta doesn’t, depending entirely on the wrestler. The Rock or Undertaker look quite fine, whereas the Rey Mysterio just seems weird, all short, stocky and muscle-bound. Still, it’s a step in the right direction and I still prefer this to how WWE games have looked in the recent past.
Despite rattling off a long list of complaints, it’s not a half bad game. Though even the most generic fighting game can be fun with two folks head to head, and thankfully there’s enough bells and whistles to provide a decent chunk of entertainment (the fact that it’s not a traditional fighter is actually its biggest benefit in this instance). Also, it’s the first of its kind, so hopefully if All Stars does well, many of my complaints will be sufficiently addressed in the sequel. If the controls can be tightened up, the overall game made more balanced, and more classic faces added to the mix, and you’ll have an awesome version 2. Meanwhile, give version 1 a go in the ring anyway. Wii, PS3, PS2, Xbox 360