Five Star Wrestling from Serious Parody is an entertaining, challenging and well thought-out wrestling game. Gameplay is reminiscent of the classic N64 game WWF No Mercy, and has elements that remind me of the earlier smackdown games such as Here Comes the Pain. It has that ‘classic’ wrestling game feel to it, going in the opposite direction of the current WWE games which are heading more towards realism. This might just be the perfect alternative for the wrestling fan who wants a throwback to the old classics.
While the game does not feature any licensed wrestlers, it does feature parodies of eight wrestlers from past and present. So whether you’re playing as the oldies like Johnny “The Bull” Maivia or current stars such as “Raging” Andy Organ and Gregg “The Hardman” Hearty, you’ll always have alternative ways to play with these caricatures of your favourite stars. In addition to the characters themselves, each has their own theme tune which is influenced by their real life themes. These aren’t just cheap parody characters; you can tell that some real work went into developing them.
Like I said earlier, the gameplay here is reminiscent of early WWE games and that is in no way a bad thing. It isn’t just a simple game without any substance. With a total of over a hundred challenges in the game, as well as over four hundred objectives, there is plenty of content, which is sure to keep any fan satisfied for a long time. These challenges vary across sixteen different categories, one for each individual wrestler, as well as eight for different match types. Completing these challenges, along with all of the objectives featured in them will award you with SP, which can be used to buy things such as new costumes for each wrestler, alternate arenas, as well as different match types.
The wrestling itself isn’t perfect but that is part of the charm, and even though it can feel quite simple in some of the earlier challenges, it gets more and more complex as you make your way through them. One thing I really like about this game is the finishing moves and the variety of ways in which you can perform them. Finishers are earned when you reach 5 stars for beating up your opponent, and you can perform as many as you want as long as you keep the stars. In addition to the regular finishers you can perform ‘strong’ versions of them, which are essentially the same moves but with longer and stronger animations, which will do much more damage to your opponent. In addition to the ‘strong’ finishing moves, the game also gives you the option to perform moves which would normally be performed from the top ropes in the corner from outside, stood on the apron instead.
There are two features of this game that made me really enjoy experimenting with different wrestlers and different strategies while I was playing. Firstly is the finisher-to-finisher reversal. I felt a certain sense of satisfaction the first time I countered Johnny Maivia’s ‘Jabroni Slam’ with Andy Organs ‘RAO’; it added depth to the match and it really was a ‘wow’ moment, which led to multiple attempts to replicate it as often as possible. It is not easy to perform which makes it even more special whenever you manage to pull it off.
The real stand-out feature for me was the limb damage and targeting system. While other games have done this in the past, the system that is in place here is much more effective and game-changing. For example, not only will advanced damage start to show on the wrestler’s body, such as bruising on the back and face as well as bleeding, it also begins to affect which moves a wrestler who has taken a lot of damage can perform. If there is advanced damage to one or both of the legs then the wrestler will be unable to lift their opponent, and if they try to perform a move which requires them to do this, such as a suplex, then instead of performing the move they will fall to the mat clutching at their damaged limb. This feature made me think about what I was doing much more while I was playing as I had to keep an eye on what damage the opponent was dealing to me, as well as the damage which I was dealing to them.
Problems within the game were entirely minimal. Firstly, the load times were a little bit long, which I can only describe as a minor grievance. In addition to this, I encountered a few glitches in the ring but none of them were game-breaking, and for the most part they were merely cosmetic and had no effect on the overall game play.
If you’re looking for realism and a serious tone then this game may not be to your taste, but if you want a tongue-in-cheek parody, over-exaggerated gameplay, a cast of hilarious characters, a feel of classic wrestling games of the past, and an abundance of difficult challenges which will take even the most seasoned veteran a fair while to complete, then Five Star Wrestling is a worthy addition to your PlayStation 3 collection.
Dan O’Neill Rating – 6.5/10