What would a fighting game be with out special / super moves? WWE All Stars brings plenty of them to the table to keep things interesting. Each character has a wide variety of both signature and finishing moves. As players land offensive attacks on their opponent, they will fill up two meters next to their health bar; one compiles up to three stars under their name while the other fills up to a finisher status on the side. Signature moves can be performed at the cost of a completed star and cause your character(s) to perform some of their most iconic attacks in their career. These are the moves that they are known for, such as Cena’s Five Knuckle Shuffle or Rock’s People’s Elbow. Performing these takes a huge chunk of energy off of your opponent and can really tun the tide of battle. Finishers on the other hand are the one move(s) that your superstar is known for... like Punk’s Go to Sleep or the Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver. Just as the standard action of the game, all of these moves are animated in an over the top fashion. Characters will be flipping and flying through the air with every one, and in the case of signature and finishing moves, a cinematic presentation is used featuring altered camera angles and slow motion. They are devastating and fun, all at the same time.
So you know how the game works, but what opportunities does the game give you to use all of this excitement? It gives you quite a lot actually. There are a wide variety of gameplay modes available in the game. Basic confrontations can be had both online and off, within a wide variety of match types including singles, tag team, handicapped, caged, and even hardcore matches. You simply pick between 2 to 4 of your favorite superstars and have it out. There are two campaign style modes included in the package too which will certainly keep you busy for quite some time as well. There is a ton to do and unlock across all of these various modes.
The primary mode is called the Path of Champions. Within this “story” mode, players are given the choice of three paths to follow which will conclude in them facing off against a “boss” of sorts. The paths offered are against the Undertaker, Randy Orton, or Degeneration X. Regardless of the opponent that you choose at the beginning, you will be given a gauntlet of 10 matches which will span a wide variety of match styles, including many of those types mentioned above. Every couple of matches will result in a cut scene of sorts, with your chosen enemy taunting you in various manners. These are all fun and really well done; it reminds me a lot of the old Rock N Roll Wrestling cartoons from the eighties as they aren’t meant to be taken seriously. For example, the Undertaker and Paul Bearer will constantly remind you that you don’t stand a chance at the upcoming Summerslam; Bearer will do most of the talking while Undertaker constantly works on the construction of your coffin in the background. It’s cheeky but really, really enjoyable and serves its purpose well. Completing the Path of Champions mode will unlock alternate attire for your characters and different move options within the create a star mode(s).
The other mode, and my personal favorite, is the Fantasy Warfare mode. This mode poses “what if” situations of legends versus current stars. Perhaps it questions who the greatest high flyer of all time is, Eddie Guerrero or Rey Mysterio, or perhaps who has the most innovative offense, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat or Kofi Kingston. Each completed matchup unlocks another and completing them all is the key to unlocking the game’s 10 hidden / locked characters and other various surprises. That isn’t the best part though, the intro movies for each match are well worth the price of admission for true WWE fans by their selves.
Anyone who watches the WWE knows that their video team create some of the best highlight videos and recap packages in all of sports and entertainment. The vignettes shown at monthly PPV’s and special events highlighting the various feuds and story angles are often more entertaining and exciting than the wrestling product itself. Each Fantasy Warfare matchup in the game has had its own vignette / introduction move prepared for it and they aren’t brief. These intro movies last anywhere from 3-5 minutes and are a true treat for wrestling fans both old and new. I would purchase of DVD compiling these videos if it were offered; they are that well done. The movies really get you excited for each and every match and helped to get me interested in the ones that I didn’t initially care about. I don’t really care who the greatest warrior was, but the WWE and THQ made me care about the matchup of Sheamus and the Ultimate Warrior solely by showing me an incredibly edited and produced vignette telling my why it should matter to me. This mode is truly a treat for WWE fans of all ages.
As with any wrestling title, All Stars contains a create a superstar mode which allows players to design and create their own characters for use in the game. Unfortunately, I don’t find the mode in this game to be nearly as detailed or flexible as the ones which appear in the Smackdown vs. Raw series. Dont’ get me wrong, you can still create some excellent characters with All Star’s features, but the limitations imposed such as the lack of an ability to edit character movesets really inhibits the creativity of your designs. Sure, you can make a great looking Ric Flair, but he won’t play or act like the Nature Boy. Instead, you only have the option of giving him the exact moveset of one of the existing characters from the game; he may look like Flair, but he plays and fights EXACTLY like John Cena (in theory). This limitation is sure to upset a lot of wrestling-game fans and rightfully so as their ability to be creative has been severely limited.
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