You can cry about the overhype of Watchdogs or how broken Assassins Creed Unity was until the cows come home, but for me personally WWE 2K15 was the biggest disappointment of last year. Fans rejoiced when 2K stepped into save the franchise but were left sobbing uncontrollably at how bland and stripped back it was even with the impressive visuals; we were promised the Steve Austin of wrestling games and instead we were handed the Terra Ryzing of ports. A small glimmer of hope was restored to us when we heard about another breed of slobberknockery tipped to be a kind of ‘Pro Evolution’ equivalent, less glitz and glamour and more of an old school arcade like wrestling game, however 30 minutes in and the disappointment comes in from OUTTA NOWHERE!!
5 Star Wrestling is a brand new wrestling title from Dundee based studio Serious Parody releasing on the Playstation 3. Standing as a game made by wrestling fans for wrestling fans, 5 Star Wrestling is a brawler that aims to be all about the fun and joy that wrestling brings rather than a title that promises too much and doesn’t deliver. With a small, intimate roster at your command and a large amount of challenges and match types at your whim, 5 Star appears to be packing quite the punch but is it an underestimated underdog or is it as upsetting as 2K15? I’m afraid to say it’s the latter. The immediate heartbreak comes from the games visuals, as this isn’t how a PS3 game releasing in 2015 should be looking. The wrestlers themselves don’t look amazing but it’s the clunky movement and frequent glitching, levitating and vanishing opponents that make it difficult on the eyes. You’ll also notice the lack of any crowds (despite the sfx) and the no show of a match official, which would have worked well in the Attitude Era but these days it’s just a little daft.
I must admit I was a little gutted to only have an option of playing as 8 different chaps, but I soon laughed heartedly at the rather familiar resemblances they each had, along with their signature music that too shocked me at how the words “copyright infringement” don’t roll across the screen. Featuring the likes of Andy Organ, Curtis Angel, Harvee Dee & Greg Hearty, 5 Star Wrestling has a very niche tongue in cheek humour that only the ‘smarks’ will understand and will very much enjoy, yet newcomers won’t think twice as they are unaware of how almost identical Ragnabrok is to his Lesnar counterpart. Each wrestler too shares the exact same taunts and finishing moves that are funny to begin with, yet once you divulge into the game’s controls and consistent glitches, it just becomes as frustrating as the WWE games. Developing from THQ/2K’s format, 5 Star actually features a move list, which guides you through executing each move the roster has in their arsenal, which is handy as without a tutorial or practise mode you are pretty much thrown in at the deep end; the move list is greatly appreciated as each one of your umpteen moves requires certain trigger buttons to be pressed as well as the necessary direction. Just like the wrestling titles you’ve played before, 5 Star works on what I like to call the ‘Knackered System’, which means your opponents limbs will gradually change colours accordingly to how much you’ve battered t hem, thus turning the tides on how easy you will pin them for the count. Similar to how 2K15 works, executing moves and taunting will give you the ability to use your finishing move, which you can keep using until all 5 of your stars have vanished. Again similar to the past WWE games, countering your opponent couldn’t be any trickier even if it suggests that it isn’t, hitting either of the trigger buttons at the correct time will not so much counter the move, but awkwardly break it up so the both of your are just oddly sizing each other up.
If you brush off the unimpressive visuals and the ‘ropey’ physics, you’ll notice that 5 Star Wrestling does offer a lot of challenging gameplay that will keep you engaged for hours and hours. Each of the 8 wrestlers have 26 challenges to be completed based on executing particular commands much like the semi narrative driven elements in the most recent WWE entries. Though not story driven in the slightest, 5 Star does encourage you to win in a specific manner to earn a better match rating and to earn more credit to unlock arenas and costumes. The same applies to each of the various match types that have their own objectives that are kindly asked to be completed, giving you over 200 different matches you can have. It’s fair to say however that there isn’t a huge amount of variety amongst the different match types and the challenge objectives, but if you’re enjoying the game for what it is then that shouldn’t be of concern as there is a lot to do for your money.
5 Star Wrestling wasn’t billed as a top contender against the WWE game franchise and it’s evidently not from the first long winded, mind numbing loading screen. Visually it’s not a credit to what 2015 video games should look and play like regardless of studio or system of choice, so you can understand my disappointment playing a game that controlled worse than even some PS2 brawlers I still occasionally play. Its large amount of content is the most surprising and redeeming quality of the game, even if it can be rather boring and is too similar. 5 Star Wrestling is a game that wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously and the cheeky humour that comes from it is great for such an avid wrestling fan like me. Players looking for a refreshing alternative to the WWE franchise however will be greatly disappointed due to its lack of qualities that have become the norm for a wrestling game. The gags and simple arcade gameplay sadly cannot outweigh what makes this game a unexciting experience that not even Paul Heyman could sell to me.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.