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E3 2010: WWE All Stars

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WWE All Stars pines for the golden age of over-simplified wrestling games. Featuring a roster of today’s biggest WWE Superstars alongside legendary retired wrestlers, THQ and Yukes are billing All Stars as a simplistic alternative to the upcoming Smackdown vs. Raw 2011.

The demo available on the show floor featured John Cena and The Rock. Both characters are excessively beefy looking, highlighting one of the game’s strongest attributes: it’s meant to be easy to pick up and play and not at all intimidating to first time players. This means that striking and grappling commands are all fairly simplistic, with light and heavy alternatives for each. By performing well in the ring, you’ll fill up a special move meter. Once filled, you can perform one of your character’s signature finishing moves.

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Playing as John Cena, I was able to pull off his basic finishing move several times within the frame of the demo but couldn’t quite figure out his secondary move. As I continued to wail on the Rock, his body became battered and bruised, along with his character icon at the corner of the screen. While the fighting was by no means elaborate, it felt thoroughly satisfying to throw the Rock onto the mat only to have him bounce back up and juggle the move into a second grapple attack, returning him to mat below. WWE All Stars is all about this kind of exaggerated gameplay.

I didn’t like everything about the demonstration. My opponent’s AI felt pretty flimsy, following my character wherever I wandered around the ring. The Rock would only initiate attacks when I was nearby and it became clear within a couple minutes how to lure him into advantageous positions. There’s also the in-game crowd; the audience looks atrocious. They’re totally unconvincing in contrast to the crowds seen in this year’s Smackdown title, although it’s definitely worth noting that the game’s still in development. The THQ representative on hand conceded that the crowd looked awful in the demo, as I walked slowly around the outside of the ring followed closely by the Rock, examining the audience’s blurred out faces.

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The appeal of All Stars is in the mixed roster of WWE Superstars and Legends. While my hands-on time with the demo was short, I’m looking forward to seeing how to game shapes up and can assure fans of old-school wrestling games like WWE Wrestlemania and No Mercy that they are THQ’s target demographic with the title. It will be interesting to see how the dual-WWE titles will sell in a year already filled with other wrestling/mixed martial arts games like EA MMA, UFC Undisputed 2010, and Luche Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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