"John Cena is a big dude, but you've never seen him like this. He enters the top of the ramp leading down to the ring, gives his trademark salute, and you find yourself wondering where Cena's neck ends and the rest of his torso begins. His jaw is proportionate for placement on Mount Rushmore, and his trademark jean-shorts (I call them "jorts") cover legs that could double as tree trunks. Cena is followed by The Rock, who is decked out in black trunks and chin-length sideburns--and the Brahma Bull is looking just as rocked out as Cena.

Welcome to WWE All Stars, where over-the-top is just the beginning. The brand-new wrestling game is being developed by THQ San Diego, and the game is being led by veteran video game designer Sal DiVita. The team is no stranger to wrestling games; many of them worked on 2008's TNA Impact. Though the team has carried that experience and passion for wrestling forward with All Stars, there will be no confusing one game for the other--All Stars is pure, fast-paced wrestling from the get-go, and the difference is seen in every aspect of the game.

If you think of the SmackDown! vs. Raw series as the "sim" WWE game, then All Stars is pure arcade action top to bottom. From a combat standpoint, DiVita says that All Stars has as much in common with a fighting game as it does with a traditional wrestling game. Part of that similarity comes in the overall speed of the game. Punches and kicks fly quickly in the game, and the recovery time of struck wrestlers is quicker than you might expect. As a result, the action in the ring is a good clip quicker than what SVR veterans may be used to.

Another aspect of that fighting game mentality comes in the controls themselves. The face buttons are used for strong and light grapples and strikes, and you'll be able to charge your strikes by moving and holding the right stick away from your opponent. Combos will play a large role in wearing your opponent down. We watched as Cena laid out The Rock with multiple lefts and rights to the jaw--during one more-complicated sequence, Cena was able to throw a quick one-two punch, then do a scissor take-down on The People's Champ.

Combos aren't just for standing, however, thanks to a juggle system that will let you string together multiple midair slams and throws in a row. The timing is delicate, but with a bit of practice, you can get a two- or three-hit chained slam full of huge leaps in the air and devastating slams on the mat. The early build of the game we played used slo-mo frequently, especially during juggle combos, perhaps as a way to make stringing moves together easier, as well as to illustrate the destructive power of the moves. As for defense, you'll have a small window in which you can reverse both grapples and strikes using the respective shoulder buttons (and you'll be notified of that window thanks to icons that will briefly appear onscreen).

You'll get access to your signature moves and finishers in All Stars by building up an onscreen energy meter. In the case of The Rock, we got to see amped-up versions of signature moves like The People's Elbow, which had The Rock jumping high into the air to deliver his patented elbow finisher, as well as a Rock Bottom move that looked like a cross between the aerial maneuvers found in a Cirque du Soleil performance and the Incredible Hulk slamming to earth, complete with the requisite shock waves emanating from the bodies crashing to the mat.

Only Rock and Cena are being shown at E3, but if those two are anything to go by, the lineup for WWE All Stars looks to be a mix of current WWE Superstars and famous faces from the WWE's past. According to DiVita, the various characters in the game will handle differently from one another, not just in terms of the moves available to them, but also in the timing required to successfully pull off juggles and combos.

So, one part WWE wrestling game, one part fighting game, featuring a compelling mixture of old and new talent--that seems to be the formula for WWE All Stars. As with SmackDown! vs. Raw 2011, there's much more to be revealed about All Stars in the months leading up to its 2011 release, so stay tuned. If you've got questions about either game, you won't want to miss our live stage show from E3 2010 in Los Angeles. Both SmackDown! vs. Raw 2011 and WWE All Stars will be shown onstage along with the game's producers, and we'll be taking your questions live."



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