It's strange to think of a game like Smackdown vs Raw as being a 'simulation' when you've got in-game cut-scenes involving an overgrown man holding a mysterious urn that has the captured spirits of the Undertaker's Wrestlemania 'victims' inside. So yes, that's a simulation, allegedly.
WWE All-Stars is an arcade game to SvR's apparently realistic approach and you can tell it is because all the characters are caricatures and sometimes people leap from the top turnbuckle all the way across the ring to do moves. It's basically going to be a wrestling game on steroids. Kind of like how most of the wrestlers it depicts were/are (allegedly).
There'll be a relatively extensive selection of muscle-bound brutes to choose from, ranging from the likes of Hulk Hogan and Jake the Snake to the faceless, pant-wearing nobodies of the current WWE roster.
As ever, there'll be the usual slew of game modes to throw your wrestlers about in, like regular singles, tornado tag team and multi-opponent elimination matches. There are also cage and extreme rules matches, the latter just meaning you can pick up bats and chairs from under the ring to use as weapons.
Glancing at the list of controls, you'd be forgiven for wondering whether you were playing an arcade game rather than a simulation, because there are a lot to learn. Therefore, first impressions are mixed due to a sense of confusion, hammering the light and strong strike buttons and getting utterly pissed off with the way the AI wrestlers will reverse virtually everything you throw at them.
With time comes experience and you'll soon figure out just what the best tactic to employ with your chosen combatant is, although there remains a worry that the likes of John Cena are markedly better than their classic counterparts. Certainly it seemed much easier to play with a created clone of Cena that it did when controlling, say, Ricky Steamboat.
Speaking of creating a character, this element is, as you'd expect, still as fantastic as ever. Building on the one in Smackdown vs Raw 2011, there's a vast array of options to go through before your monstrosity can make its way to the ring. Due to the caricatured nature of the wrestlers in All-Stars, it's harder to make someone that looks out of the ordinary, but even so it's not difficult and well worth the time spent adjusting sliders and daubing his scarred visage with Doink the Clown's face paint.
The other major feature is the storyline mode, where you get to pass a set of challenges that allow you to hoover up the unlocks with victories, facing off against the hidden likes of Mr Perfect, Eddie Guerrero and Jimmy Snuka. There are also some modern wrestlers to find as well, although from the other journalistic pods set up around me, it was clear nobody had eyes for anything other than the Undertaker's campaign. And rightly so.
It's not as in-depth as Smackdown vs Raw in that there's just a little cut-scene with Paul Bearer squealing at you, then 'Taker gives it up with his typical morbid gusto. Then you play through a couple of bouts and repeat.
That looks to be kind of it too. There's not the same breadth of choice that you'd get in the sister franchise, but this one is going to be more about the in-ring action. It's all inside the squared circle too, with occasional forays to the padded concrete, because you won't go backstage either.
It seems very relentless, with nary a break for breath as the fighters slug it out. All but the most devastating moves don't leave your opponents on the mat for very long. You'll just have to get stuck in and get their health down quickly.
Just like the frames of the characters, the moves are also exaggerated substantially, the finishers being especially ludicrous. Jake the Snake jumps about 20 feet in the air to deliver his patented DDT, while Hogan's leg drop looks like he's come down out of the Earth's atmosphere to deliver it.
The main question mark over WWE All-Stars will remain with the degree to which the AI reverses your moves, doing it to a seemingly unfair degree on even the medium setting. Whether this was just due to player incompetence, an imbalance between selected fighters or a genuine unfairness will be seen when we get a more extensive hands-on.
As a final aside, it's going to be interesting to see how well this does, because it's not immediately obvious just what it's bringing to the table in terms of a full price release. Is it one wrestling game too many or does it offer something genuinely different? It's not a question we can really answer yet, but we will be able to soon. Stay tuned.