WWE is a sport with a hazy existence that lies somewhere between fantasy and reality. Its emphasis on showbiz razzmatazz and pantomime violence means its wrestlers spend as much time playing to the camera as cracking each other's bones.

As such WWE games need to balance the real and unreal. The Smackdown vs. Raw titles lean towards reality with career modes and intricate controls. WWE All-Stars goes the other way and embraces the spectacle.

There's no career or story mode here (although you can design your own wrestler). The nearest you get is the Path of Champions, a series of 10 bouts linked by a hammy WWE presenter.

Time is also ignored. Want recent champs to tussle with early 1990s stars like The Ultimate Warrior? No problem. The fighters themselves look like action figures, as if moulded from plastic rather than flesh.

The action is also stripped back. There are no multi-button combos to learn - all the moves are handled with one or two buttons. Some controls are context sensitive too, so the button to slip out of the ring is also used to pin down opponents.

These multi-function controls do backfire at times though: it's easy to end up sliding out of the ring when trying to pin your rival to the floor.

And for a game focused on the fantasy of WWE, it can be timid. Slow-motion action and a shift to a golden palette enliven the finishing moves, but elsewhere the game stops short of embracing the more fantastical edge it's grasping for.

It's a solid attempt to provide a more flamboyant take on WWE, but a second iteration is needed if it is to live up to its promise.

Stuff says... 

WWE All-Stars review

Like the real thing, it's fantastical fun but frustrating