I have to say my initial thoughts on this latest WWE video game, was one of disappointment.
The use of cartoon style, over-inflated wrestlers looked a lazy and even boring concept. In the age of computer realism, where we can walk through a city or fight on the D-Day beaches of Normandy in incredible detail, WWE All-Stars looked like a throw-back to the past.
And in some senses, it is.
Gaming fans who demand graphics and realism will not appreciate this game, when compared with, say, Smackdown vs. Raw 2011. The detail in that game greatly surpasses any other wrestling offering and leaves All-Stars well behind.
However having now played the new All-Stars game, it is clear that perhaps I have missed an important detail.
Not all games are meant to be realistic. Mario, after all, jumped up and down on mushrooms. Sometimes computer games are most effective when they are simple. If its too complicated or detailed, it can affect the quality of the gameplay and put off some gaming fans who see modern games as too complex.
By going back to a basic concept, the WWE might be trying to connect with two different kinds of gaming fan. The first is the generation who grew up on the likes of Mortal Kombat and for whom it was their game of choice. Simple arcade style beat-em ups. Nothing too complicated, simple controls and a basic format.
The second is the younger generation who will no doubt be attracted to the bright lights and colour of this more cartoon computer game.
The game itself immediately sets its stalls in so much that it utilises the legends far more than other computer games. In recent advertisements, we have seen Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and the Ultimate Warrior. But it also includes others, like Bret Hart, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat and Shawn Michaels.
I, for one, though had to take a second look, as it looked strange to see Shawn Michaels as a legend, rather than a current superstar.
The promise of Big Show versus Andre, or Hulk Hogan versus Stone Cold are matches that we as wrestling fans have only ever dreamt about. And so from that perspective, All-Stars once again has a selling point for different generations of fans.
However what about the gameplay?
Computer games have come a long way since the days of Pong. Gone are the basic controls of simply moving a mouse up and down, and in its place we have sequences of X, triangle, Square and circle, which are so complex that you feel that for all that effort, you should be opening a bank vault.
Even further advances have come in the shape of Wii and then Kinetic, and it is this kind of interaction that wrestling games will need to consider in more detail if its product will continue to prosper.
The PS3 version of All-Stars, in terms of its gameplay, is pretty simple, and it requires less skill than in the Smackdown franchise. The moves performed are pretty fun and the sight of Rey Mysterio flying into the air, is pretty amazing. The game is traditional arcade.
The appeal of this game is certainly there, its fun, its colourful, its friendly. It may lack the detail of a Smackdown vs. Raw, but it was never meant to be a challenger to this coveted position.
Is it worth $50 though? The answer to that depends on how much you like wrestling games. I for one think that while wrestling games have incredible graphics, they still lack the depth of other non-sports based games. There is little to keep you coming back night after night, in the same way as Red Dead Redemption or Metal Gear Solid.
Wrestling needs a new generation of computer games. We need something that utilises the kinetic style involvement. WWE All-Stars may not fit the bill, but its at least fun, friendly and enjoyable. It does have the greatest roster ever assembled, and for those of the arcade era, you will fall in love with this latest wrestling game offering.
WWE All-Stars is in the shops—March 29th (USA) and April 1st (Europe).