5 Star Wrestling Review (PS3)
Professional wrestling games are a bit odd. They must capture the spirit of a scripted form of entertainment, while providing a competitive experience with an undetermined outcome. You often change between promoter and athlete, scheduling matches which you then play in. Yet, despite these contradictions, I usually enjoy these titles, even though I am not an ardent follower of the real shows.
Enter 5 Star Wrestling, a PS3 digital title that seeks to recreate the pro wrestling experience. Like the genre’s big budget titles, this smaller game is full of inconsistencies. This time, however, they serve to make a rather dreadful experience.
First, it’s important to note that 5 Star Wrestling, made by Serious Parody, is itself a parody. There’s no WWE or other license. Instead, fictional wrestlers like Curtis Angel or Raging Andy Organ ape their real life counterparts in looks and move sets.
Unfortunately, the lack of any kind of story or career mode severely hampers how much parody can be had.
Once you select a character and perhaps chuckle at the punny names, you are in a relatively traditional wrestling game. Control-wise, the game plays it safe, mirroring what’s become standard in recent WWE games: timing-based counters, positional grapples, and meter triggered special moves.
Traditional doesn’t mean good, though. Gameplay is anything but smooth. While in the ring, there are a lot of clunky animations. Warping occurs, especially if your wrestler is attempting a move at an incorrect difference. Clipping is an issue, too. The models themselves look amateurish.
Basically, this is one bad looking and playing game.
Things don’t get much better when discussing presentation. Everything feels pretty barren, from lifeless empty stands to the lack of any kind of commentary. Again, the game limits itself by not including entrances—another area ripe for parody.
The on-screen meters look and work well-enough. Context sensitive moves like finishers and pins are given proper control hints.
Again, with no long-term career or season mode, the game is really best experienced as a local multi-player button masher. There’s also no online play, which is unfortunate.
If you are considering this as a single-player title, there is Challenge Mode. Simply, you are given three tasks to accomplish during the course of a match. Completing a challenge will earn you points that can be used to buy new outfits and match types.
There is also a match rating system that rewards stars based on how you performed. This rating takes into account the variety and riskiness of moves performed, as well the types of wrestlers in the ring. This is probably the most interesting thing about 5 Star Wrestling, but again, it’s shackled by the poor gameplay.
Admittedly, there are an adequate number of options available for Exhibition matches and a few different wrestler types to become familiar with. But, unless you are set on playing through all of the challenges, there’s little here that will keep you coming back.
I know, I know…this is a small independent developer trying to refocus wrestling to the action on the mat, all while working without a license. Some slack should be cut, right?
I would agree with that argument if the game were reasonably priced, say around 5-10 dollars. This is, after all, a PS3 exclusive and not a new-gen effort.
However, 5 Star Wrestling costs an astounding $25. This discrepancy has to be considered when looking at the overall value of the game. Again, no online. No career mode. No character creation.
For comparison, a used copy of WWE All-Stars, one of last gen’s best wrestling titles, runs around $20.
And so, I can’t really recommend 5 Star Wrestling to anyone. The actual wrestling isn’t good. There’s very limited long-term value, especially when factoring in the cost and even the parody element, which has great potential, is extremely shallow.
5 Star Wrestling is anything but 5 Stars.
Score: 2.5 (Bad)