Wrestling is at a crossroads. The WWE is flagging without major competition and the Independent Wrestling scene is flourishing. It has got to the stage where the WWE are desperately trying to sign the best talent like Austin Aries, Aj Styles, and the Bullet Club, just to stay afloat. In the gaming world, the same is true. The official WWE 2K16 game has had no competition until now. 5 Star Wrestling Regenesis by Serious Parody, is much like an independent show. Fun and with more participation.
The game now available for PS4 for £14.99 takes a traditional approach to wrestling games. If you think WWE No Mercy, you will have a good starting point. Anyone who preferred the freedom of those games to the flash of the Smackdown series should definitely keep reading.
The game is divided into the normal exhibition and tutorial sections. In 5 Star the ‘meat’ of the game is the challenge mode. Around 200 challenges are available, ranging from winning the match by First blood to do a taunt before any other move. Winning these matches gains you in game currency to unlock a few more outfits for the roster of fictional wrestlers. The roster itself is, unfortunately, a bit sparse. The parody wrestlers give you a very good mix of the great and good of wrestling over the last few years. Of course, you are reminded at the start all the characters are fictional, yet a seasoned fan should be able to tell who they want to play as.
The move set of each character is exhaustive and intuitive, something that WWE 2K16 sorely lacks. In this game, you can really work an element of the opponents body, wear it down, and sync in the submission move. In WWE 2K16, you never feel able to really implement any strategy without the AI reversing every move you try. Such is the difference in today’s WWE product and the classic era. This game lets you truly dominate an opponent. You can be as sadistic as you want. Hitting them with finisher after finisher and beating them until the results show in realistic bruising and blood. Matches are a real battle of attrition even from the start. You won’t hit the same frustration wall after beating an opponent senseless only for them to stand up and beat you with one finisher. Your hard work is definitely rewarded in 5-STAR. One early match I played, lasted close to the 20-minute mark, as I tried to set up the opponent for the perfect finish. I could have won the match earlier, but the pleasure of weakening them until they were ready for a top rope Jackhammer from Mike ‘Iceberg’ was both fun and stress killing.
The game is also reasonably challenging on the normal setting. If you get caught in a submission or pin attempt late in a match, you have to do the old ‘Track And Field’ and turn the controller to hammer the buttons. This makes it a fun local multiplayer game, as it is simpler to pick up than WWE 2K16. Prompts for reversals appear on the screen and are not governed by any energy bar or limited uses. You can have a fair amount of fun with a few beers and a winner stays on tournament. The parody roster means people can pick someone they are familiar with and try to recreate the moves. Grapples are all handled with the right analogue stick and a variety of modifiers, using the shoulder buttons. All major moves are telegraphed on screen, so there is no confusion on how to hit a finisher when the prompt appears. If a triangle is a finisher how do you do a spear? You simply run towards the opponent and press it. Simple and executable seem to have been the design mantra for the developer.
Unfortunately, the budget price has meant a few shortcomings in the game. Collision detection could be improved. On some occasions, you will be facing your opponent and go for a grapple only to miss and be stuck in a strange mirroring dance as the opponent has tried the same thing. It is not a game breaker, but to anyone watching instead of playing, it can look untidy. The roster is another cause for concern. It is enough for most, but the absence of create-a-wrestler hits the game hard. If you had access to all these well-animated moves and even a basic creator mode, you could extend the life of the game immeasurably. The quality of animation on the wrestlers is high so I can only imagine this was a time/budget constraint of the developer. hopefully, if the game sells well this can be added as DLC or a sequel will be released on more platforms.
There is also no getting away from the glitz and glamour of the WWE offering. The graphics are very pleasing to the eye and in my opinion suit a wrestling game just as well as the realistic effort of 2k’s game. If you see one of these characters do something un-natural it doesn’t end up on a youtube video. Here the mental reversals work. The selling point of finisher to finisher reversals looks brilliant in play. Having a jackhammer reversed into an ‘RKO’ or ‘Diamond Cutter’ is a real highlight, and all of these finishers can be reversed in the same way.
Whether or not you buy this game will come down to personal choice. I for one am glad I took the plunge. It isn’t for everyone certainly and some will miss the flashy showmanship of the WWE product. They will also poke fun at the current single figure roster and lack of match types, but doing so is having a closed mind to the enjoyment to be had here. This is like the Indie Wrestling scene itself. You can spend more money and get the WWE product every year or you can support a game like this as well and have a genuine alternative in a few years. If anything 5 Star Wrestling Regenesis highlights and corrects many of the 2k game’s flaws, just be sure to have you expectations realistically set before buying.