WWE All Stars

REVIEW: Upstart Superstars take on the venerated Legends

Whatever level you enjoy wrestling on - as an athletic showcase, a comical soap opera or a serious competitive sport - All Stars is aiming at you.

The comic book graphics gel perfectly with the cartoon on-camera characters. The in-engine cutscenes are brilliant - in particular, Paul Bearer's posturing in the ten-bout run-up to battling The Undertaker.

And the Fantasy Warfare matches which feature themed battles - a narcissistic ego-off between Mr Perfect and The Miz, and an acromegaly showdown between seven-footers Andre the Giant and Big Show - all come packaged with a brilliantly straight-faced intro video.


Phrases like "the pursuit of perfection takes a level of talent and self-confidence that is beyond the imagination of ordinary mortals" just about sums it up perfectly.

So, the All Stars package is perfect - which only leaves the game itself. With no tutorial and no deep help from the manual, the game initially feels quite shallow. Two strikes and two grabs leaves you repeating a lot of moves, but it slowly opens up.

The first thing you'll notice is the reversal system, which allows you to reflect an attack back onto your opponent. The on-screen prompts are too fast to react to, but they teach you the pacing of a fight, and you'll soon manage to hit the sweet spots without them.

Then, you'll uncover the fighter-specific skills - Big Men can store charged attacks, Acrobats have better turnbuckle moves - and you'll begin to stitch together longer attacks. You'll teach yourself to climb the turnbuckles and bounce off the ropes, using the right stick to adapt your hold.

The first time you accidentally convert a charged, lifting attack into an airborne grapple makes you realise there's more going on than anyone seems to want to tell you.

The personalities are great, and brilliantly caricatured. The matches are as much fun to watch as they are to play. The attempts to add variety don't always work - four-player tag teams are fun, but the rest is fairly uninspired - so it might not last too long without DLC.

But if you're willing to get all your tips from loading screens, All Stars captures the brilliant athletic stupidity of kayfabe wrestling.

The verdict

Fresh, clean cartoon fighting

  • Large selection of characters
  • Spot on fighting and atmosphere
  • Paul Bearer!
  • Where are the Divas?
  • Half-hearted match type collection
Xbox 360