This review is a current representation of the game's state, which would include all changes from previous patches, and it's online community.
When this game first hit the shelves there were a lot of mixed opinions about it, so much so that I didn't end up buying it until black Friday because I was afraid to experience buyer's remorse. Let me just say though, I am a fan of action platformers, fighting platformers, dating back to the original SSB for the Nintendo 64. I'm glad I got to take advantage of the sale price to experience it, but I like many others do take a mixed stance on the game.
I figured the fun factor would outweigh any negative aspects, even if only for a short while because I had a roommate to play this with. I was right, but after a while the game does lose a but of it's shine. With that being said, let me review a few key parts to the game that make this what it is.
The visuals are somewhat of a treat, even if not especially striking. The different stages and characters integrate varying styles of art direction. With respect to Kratos and Parappa, it's the obvious difference between the two paired up that creates fun. Kratos, in all his gritty Spartan glory, and Parappa as a 2D, Playstation golden-age icon is interesting and fun to watch. To an even further degree, the stages follow in the same footsteps. They are very different from each other, from stages reminiscent of Little Big Planet to Loco Roco, all have something to offer to the eye. They also change midway through the battle, so you have huge clashes that come together in pleasing ways. Stages will fall apart and change in a way that doesn't look like where you first started. This is great because it essentially doubles the number of stage selections in that you can choose to expedite the transformation of some stages. In summation, the art style is respectably varied, but aside from that I was not particularly impressed.
The voice overs are accurate, you will receive the succinct and cool-guyesque one-liners from Raiden and adorable squeals from Fat Princess. They all get their own interchangeable introductions as well, and the music changes during play time in unexpected and fun ways. This makes some of the stages especially memorable; the God of War stage changes midway through to a really weird campy tune. All of the stages, when they change, changes the music and so you have different crossovers midway through. I will say that when you eliminate a character the sound of them exploding can get annoying, and not many of the sound effects include the "oomf" you'd expect setting a bomb off in someone's face. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the effort put forth by the sound department though.
To keep this review from becoming a novel, I'll include a short segment in the gameplay which will include the controls and story as well. Let me start with the meat of the gameplay though, which is generally pretty fun. You can start with a general story mode, which include some character-specific cutscenes and depending on who you choose, come with their own character rivals in the story. This is fun, but it's pretty much what you would expect from a fighting platformer.
I feel the combat can be noticeable slower in comparison to Super Smash Bro's sometimes, and it was hard for me at first to adjust to the pacing. However, I feel this slower pacing gives a good footing to the more advanced combo system present in the game. The combat is timed very well for how detailed the combos can be with some characters, and it's extremely satisfying juggling enemies in the air with characters like Dante. There is a great tutorial mode that offers a lot of depth and a good foundation for learning all of the character's fighting combos. The items that drop are varied and fun, what's more, ALL of them feel useful. They range between RPG's, Medusa's' head, and some sort of plasma ring paralysis grenade that bounces around. My personal favorite though? A large fish used to smack people around the arena, and boy does that thing pack a punch.
In this game, to eliminate players you have to use your super abilities, which range in strength from levels 1 - 3, which you can keep track of via a meter at the bottom of the screen. Level 1 is fast and easy to obtain, while hard to hit with, while level 2's can usually guarantee you a kill or two but still require some skill. Level 3's are the most fun where in most cases you are guaranteed a couple kills. Kratos transforms to some sort of god, Sweet Tooth becomes a transformer killing machine, and Raiden turns everyone into little boxes that run around and you have to guess which boxes have players that reside within them for the kill. However, it can sometimes be almost impossible to hit an experienced player with some of the characters worse level 1 supers. I can't even remember the last time I've been hit by a level 1 online or against a CPU. I felt some characters had specials that could be too strong, and others that felt really weak. For example, Heihachi's level 3 has all the enemies strapped to a rocket, which is funny and cool to watch but it's a one time use, so in a game of 2v2 you're only garuanteed 2 kills. By contrast, you may be able to secure 5 MAYBE 6 kills if you have the timing down perfectly in a 2v2 using Kratos. Like with most other aspects of character differentiation, I felt like the supers were overall nicely varied. All the characters have their own strengths weaknesses, like Radec for example, who is a heavy-ranged character. Sly Cooper, who does not have a block, makes use of a stealth ability in it's place quite well. My girlfriend had fun with Radec as she could just sit back and kind of blast people with his different ranged attacks. This would bring me to the last point about All Star's gameplay; it's accessible. My girlfriend is not a gamer, and it's hard to get her to play anything with me, but her and I have had a couple fun sessions between us. There's a little bit of appeal in all corners of play.
I flat out did not enjoy the controls though, even still I find them frustrating, but the game does allow a certain degree of customization with the controls. Trying to learn how to grab was confusing, remembering how to use all the attacks felt cumbersome, and trying to teach someone who just picked up the controller that R2 is dedicated for use of your specials is not an easy idea to grasp.
This is usually a great game for everyone to play. Have a few friends over? Pick it up for a few minutes. It's entertaining to say the least, and an acceptably enjoyable "party" game. By party game I don't actually advise you to pull this out in a room full of vodka and 9/10's, but hey, it's your life. Once again, I'd like to stress that playing it by yourself isn't actually that great. It reminds me of most Wii games. The characters are varied, but I wish there were a few more included at launch, with 24 available.
This is probably one of the worst parts of the game, especially if you're a beginner. To be honest, the only people that still play are hardcore players. People that have learned the ins and outs over what I can only guess would be several, several months. You can level your characters through various battles (through story mode, versus, or otherwise) and with the couple of hours I've sunk in the game I've gotten my main guy up to about 180. Couple that with trying out different characters (because playing the same character from start to max would be almost torture), it takes a long time. However, that's not to say that the entire online is dead, and huge plus is you can 2v2 with a buddy if you'd like. I was able to pick it up and find a couple battles whenever I picked the controller up. That being said, it can take a while for matchmaking. It should also be noted that the DLC for this game is stupidly priced. It's $5.00 for two characters, so $10.00 for 4 characters overall. Call me cheap, but I honestly don't feel the lackluster characters offered as DLC warrant that money. I have noticed one of the DLC characters topping all of the fighter hierarchies, and after having played her, I can see why. She's almost broken. Last I heard, there are no additional plans for DLC for PlayStation All Stars, after the initial failure at launch (due to low sales) Sony abandoned additional support for it fairly quickly.
Overall, I would recommend the game as a rent or a buy if you can pick it up for a cheap price, because I have definitely enjoyed my time with it so far.