This Week in Gaming: March 29, 2011

Race fans, start your engines. Wrestling fans, get ready to rumble and golf fans, start stroking!

WWE All Stars (Xbox, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2)

Price: $59.99  || Official Site

Luchadores, muscle-men and dudes who really, really like seeing big men in panties slapping each other about in between back flips: look out. The WWE might have been biding their time, but they’re finally back and holy hell, are they bigger and badder than ever. Bringing together current superstars with classic all stars, the game has something for everyone that’s ever spent a Monday night getting raw. Besides giving you a choice of wrestlers that spans the history of the franchise from Andre the Giant to The Rock, game modes galore are here to help you tag team, cage match, or take your skills online. Once you overcome the initial inclination to mash buttons, you’ll realize that the game pays off good technique more than anything and you’ll soon be super-plexing opponents into oblivion from the top rope. WWE All Stars takes the best of all the wrestling games that have come before, stylizes the hell out of it (seriously, the Ultimate Warrior belongs in a Valhalla shrine) and polishes it for the current generation of consoles. This game is a blast to play on your own in any of the single player modes but absolutely kills it in local multiplayer with four friends. Over/under on how long it takes someone to belt out their best Macho Man OOOHHH YEEAAAH? 45 seconds….and we’ll take the under.

Companion Cocktail: HGH, Creatine, Red Bull and a Raw Egg. 9 out of 10 Hulkamaniacs recommend it.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (Xbox, PS3, Wii)

Price: $59.99  || Official Site

Just in time for the Masters tournament to kickoff, EA Sports is bringing back the fabled golf franchise and this time they’re packing in the never-before-seen (in a video game) Augusta National Course and commentator Jim Nantz (that’s probably really exciting if you give a rat’s ass about golf!). Anyone who’s played T-Woods in recent years and hasn’t been given sand-wedge-induced amnesia already knows that the franchise gets better with every entry and 2012 is no exception. Better graphics, bigger roster, and more country clubs are par for the course (see what we did there?) but better motion controls on both Wii and PSMove (Sorry, Kinecters) make for an even more realistic experience. This time around you’ll also be able to take a caddy with you to schelp your virtual golf bag around and give you hints so you won’t have to five-putt in the game the way you do in real life. Just remember, it’s poor form to stiff the caddy of a tip when he’s picking up your Green Jacket from the dry cleaners.

Companion Cocktail: Golf rules apply – water on the course, vodka during the day, scotch after sunset and never clean your balls in any of them.

Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed (Xbox, PS3, PC)

Price: $59.99  || Official Site

On the flip side of the cops and robbers-style “Hot Pursuit”, Need for Speed returns with “Shift 2”. Unleashed this week, it’s a tough transition to make after you’ve been burning up the Pacific Coast Highway for the past few months, but Shift 2 Unleashed is EA’s bid to spin off the 17th game in the Need for Speed series into its own franchise. Aimed at the more hardcore, racing-sim fans, the game forsakes EAs core audience of speed freaks, most of who are going to be disappointed when they slam headlong into a wall of more realistic physics. While, on the positive side, the game plays like a mix between GT5 and Project Gotham Racing, and the abundance of licensed cars found here will help draw gamers in, in the end, we’re left feeling that Shift 2 Unleashed is the answer to a question that nobody asked.

Companion Cocktail: Spike a Big Gulp, you gotta use those cupholders for something.

NASCAR 2011 The Game (Xbox, PS3, Wii)

Price: $59.99  || Official Site

Our research indicates that there hasn’t been a NASCAR game since 2002. Our research also indicates that we confuse the word “research” with “guessing” more often that you’d believe. NASCAR is finally throwing its hat into the video game racing ring, with the game ambitiously striking a balance between the realism of 500 lap races and, you know, actually having fun. Every driver you can think of (and many that you can’t) shows up in the roster of available players, though we felt somewhat burned that Cole Trickle was not included. 22 of the actual tracks from the Sprint Cup Championship are found within, so holding your own version of a Championship series among friends is almost a certainty, victory lap and winners circle celebrations included. Smartly, Activision has put special emphasis on race fans’ favorite part of the sport: crashing. We would definitely recommend getting those monster crashes out of your system early in your career because it’s really hard to hit the clutch when you ain’t got no legs. Pit crews, red flags, tire-wear, and fuel levels all contribute to making this an extremely authentic NASCAR experience for fans that have gone too long without. Our advice to you is simple; don’t go high in turn four at Daytona unless you like the taste of concrete wall and burnt rubber. You’ve been warned, hoss.

Companion Cocktail: Milk, ice cold and in a glass bottle. It goes great with those leftover donuts from your victory lap.