Game: 5 Star Wrestling
Developer: Daniel Hinkles
Release Date: March 17th, 2015
Platform: Playstation 3 PSN
Some have deemed 5 Star Wrestling as the spiritual successor to the Golden Era of wrestling games from the N64. I’m here to tell you it is not that. 5 Star Wrestling is great within its own right.
While I can see the influences coming in from the games of this era such as WWF No Mercy—one of my favorite games of all time—it just simply does not match up with those games. 5 Star Wrestling instead forges its own way with a surprising amount of depth. WWE2K15 is heavy in game modes and creative content but what 5 Star Wrestling decided to focus on was the mecahnics of the game and in-game wrestling. Only available for PS3 on PSN for $24.99, you will start off meeting with some VERY long load screens. From start-up, choosing quick match, until the first bell rings it takes a full 3 minutes to start. Maybe I am an impatient gamer but I feel a game like this should start up a bit more seamlessly. I hope that in the future it can get there.
The game’s graphics are nothing to write home about. They aren’t good even by PS3’s standards. There are quite a few clipping issues throughout matches, which can probably be expected from an indie wrestling title. Though for the price of the game I expect for it to be a little more polished in these areas. The graphics don’t have to be mind blowing and there can be some clipping but at this price point it is hard to come back from the visual detraction.
Where the game lacks in graphics and load times it really does make up for it in fun and the mechanics. The move system feels new and innovative. The reversal system is familiar but tough to master, unlike other wrestling games where it is easy to become a reversal god. The damage system deserves praise on so many levels. The limb targeting system can change the outcome of matches if you are smart about where you attack your opponent. If I choose to take out my opponent’s legs and damage them enough, they will struggle and fail to do lift-up moves, which are designated in the move list accessible through the pause screen. As the match goes on and wrestlers take damage you can start to see bruises appear in the places where they have taken damage. The AI will have different strategies for different opponents as well, making every match experience different. You can hold moves and wait for the referee’s five-count to break and there are also cheap shots you can take, but you rack up warnings from the ref. Playing to your players alignment is important–which is weird to say in a wrestling game, but it is true. The ultimate goal of this game is to have a five-star match. Any wrestling fan will tell you they are few and far between but when they happen they are doozies!
Every character is a heel (bad guy) or face (good guy) and if you fight like your alignment then you will get more points for your match. You also have archetypes: brute, showman, tactician, and risk taker. How do you fight like a risk-taking heel without getting disqualified? Well, the game gives you tips in the very extensive help section. I read through the help section after finally deciding I was going earn a five-star rating in a match and it really happened. But don’t think you can just go in and give your opponent a beat down and expect a great match. A truly great match has back and forth, drama and variety.
This game comes packed with eight match types: Wresting Match (one on one normal match), Submission, No Holds Barred, Pinfall Only, Last Man Standing, First Blood Match, Falls Count Anywhere, and Two Out of Three Falls. All have their own section in the challenge menu. You complete challenges to get points, which you can use to unlock alternate clothing, arenas, or the match types of regular play. That’s right— one annoying thing about this game is that the match types are all locked unless you play them in challenge mode until you are able to unlock them.
The eight types of matches come with a roster of only eight wrestlers. These eight wrestlers are all iconic and memorable though they are parodies and in no way affiliated with any wrestling promotion. You will quickly draw the conclusions that these are basically clones of: The Rock, Randy Orton, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Goldberg, and current WWE Champion (by the time of writing this the night before WrestleMania 31) Brock Lesnar. Eight is a very meager, lean, roster to have for a game that costs $24.99, but the game is so advanced mechanically that it really makes up for it. There is a ton of variation in this game, and while you could point to any number of things in this game–the small roster, having to unlock the match types, the graphics, the load times. This is too much concern for me to shell out that money, however, I urge you to try this game out somehow. I think these guys would convert a lot of hesitant players by having a simple demo.
This game is not finished by a long shot either. I get a strong impression that they will be continuing to work on the game and adding more to it. That being said, it is a tough pill to swallow at $24.99 but if you’re a wrestling fan—or more accurately a fan of wrestling games, then this game is simply a must have. The control scheme is great, the damage system is fantastic, and the simple variety of moves and ways to wear down and beat your opponent is just insanely fun. As soon as you finish your first match you will be working hard to produce your first five-star match. Clipping is an issue that can sometimes take you out of the action and if you need good graphics and all of the extra content that games like WWE2K15 provide then this game is a wait and see. This is a passion project and may always been a slow moving one that could be expanded upon for years to come. If you’re not a fan of wrestling games or wrestling itself maybe this game isn’t for you and it would be a definite try before you buy. But for that wrestling fan with a little bit of faith and money to burn, this game is a must have.
I’m giving this game an 8/10 or for wrestling fans this is a fantastic 4 star game!