When THQ introduced WWE All Stars to consoles earlier this year, it brought in a new breed of wrestling game that reminded us of such arcade-style affairs as WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game and Wrestlefest. They focused less on the “realism” (if you can call it that) of the sport, going with crazy over-the-top antics instead. We mean crazier than the Godfather, mind you. It was a big hit back then, so the company decided to bring the high-flying body slams and backbreakers to the Nintendo 3DS, and, for the most part, the fun remains intact.
The game features over 40 superstars from the current and past WWE roster, including legends like The Rock and Hulk Hogan, mixed in with current superstars like CM Punk and John Cena. Some great faces have been thrown into this game, and you can finally see who would win the argument between Punk and Chris Jericho – and, for that matter, the long-standing feud between Hogan and the legendary “Macho Man” Randy Savage – ooh, yeah! Each wrestler has their special moves intact, along with authentic ring entrances and music, and they look great in 3D.
Along with regular arcade bouts and the option to wrestle in special matches (cage ones can be enjoyable), you can also tackle the Path of Champions, in which you select one of three pre-set Wrestlemania-style routes in an attempt to become a belt holder. These modes take some time to get through, and can be challenging, but they’re worth it. The only downside is that a bug may send your winning streak crashing down. We haven’t seen it, but a few folks indicated it’s making the rounds. Keep an eye out.
The gameplay relies a lot on arcade-style tactics, as you’ll use punch and kick combos along with grapples and throws. Most are easy to pull off, though reversals take a great deal of practice, as you have to hit the L button at just the right time or be put into a dire situation where you might just submit. Tapping buttons to get out of a pin is slightly annoying as well – why didn’t THQ just implement touch-screen support? As for the rest of the attacks, they’re great, especially the finishers, which have your wrestler flying high up in the air and bringing their opponent literally crashing back down to Earth.
Though the game performs well, there is a great deal of loading time, particularly with the wrestler intros. You can shut them off to save a little time, but, really, you’d be cheating yourself out of some quality authenticity if you did. Just put up with it and you should be fine.
Along with single-player bouts (which are neatly balanced with mostly fair AI, which you can adjust in the options), you can also wrestle a friend in local multiplayer. It would’ve been nice to involve more human players in a Royal Rumble set-up, but we won’t argue with the ability to pass around systems and see “who got got”, as R. Truth might say. (And no, we won’t mention “Jimmy”.)
There are times the wrestlers look a little iffy, but the in-ring action flows so smoothly you won’t really care. In addition, the lighting attacks are splendid, when you turn a bright yellow or orange as you send your opponent flying around in a tizzy. The crowd gets into each match, and the action really comes at you in a great way in 3D. The Path of Champions segments are fun to watch too, and some live-action WWE wrestling action, provided in full 3D, is fun to watch. The music and voice acting are great, even if some of these wrestlers don’t sound as intimidating as their real-life counterparts.
One more thing – Fantasy Warfare has also been included, so you can pit Stone Cold Steve Austin against CM Punk’s straightedge lifestyle to see who’s superior. And the Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero match-up is a full tribute to the fallen wrestler. We like the addition of the Fatal Four Way too, though it can be challenging when it comes to grabbing a target you didn’t intend to grab.
Bugs, gameplay issues, and loading times aside, WWE All Stars is as entertaining a rasslin’ machine as its console counterparts. Wrestling fans shouldn’t be without it.