WWE All Stars marks a new step for THQ as they look to expand their WWE offering. It's something that's really needed too, as WWE Smackdown vs Raw has become a game locked in to coming out every year, like most sports games, so there isn't really that much scope to try something much more radical. That's really where WWE All Stars comes in. It's a game that THQ are hoping will bridge the gap between the more serious WWE fans and those of a more casual nature. It's being developed by the newly formed THQ San Diego, and it looks great!
The visuals are instantly striking - they really play on the stereotypical perception of wrestlers. Their bodies are extremely exaggerated and the ring actually looks quite small when both wrestlers are prancing around inside it. There's also a much less serious nature to the visuals as well; the wrestlers take damage which physically changes their appearance and moves are extremely exaggerated to give the maximum pain factor.
It's a visual style that lends itself very well to the play-style, which is clearly focussed towards arcade. The controls have been significantly simplified so there are two melee buttons (weak and strong) and two grapple buttons. Moves can be pulled off with very little trouble and it means the action is smooth. The visuals also help to make the action seem much slicker, and the dramatic camera angles help to make even the most basic of suplexes look crunching.
The actual mechanics work quite similar to older-styled WWE games. Players have health bars, and taking damage obviously decreases health. When the opponent's health gets to a certain point, a finisher can then be performed on them and they enter the point of no real return. However, due to the arcade style, it doesn't look like there will be many situations where wrestlers spend what seems like ages lying on the floor while players are sit there wondering when they'll actually get up. It doesn't need to be said, but the lower the opponents health, the more likely a pin attempt will be.
Although specifics haven't really been announced yet, THQ have promised the roster will be full of current generation stars, like John Cena, and WWE Legends, like The Rock. However, here's hoping the gameplay will actually offer substantial match types and some form of connecting story. If it's just a case of versus matches repeatedly, the game may suffer from a lack of depth - it will need something to tie it all together coherently.
WWE All Stars is on course for a Q1/Q2 release in 2011 on almost every single platform. The only exception seems to be the Nintendo DS, but who knows, it might make a sneaky appearance on the Nintendo 3DS.