Although there's no tutorial to speak of, it's easy enough to figure out the basics of the combat system and begin exploring its depths - even if you don't play fighting games regularly.
There's also enough range when it comes to the character selection, contextual attacks and their over-the-top animations that you get a lot of visual and gameplay variety in the first few hours. Basic fighter types share many common attacks, however.
The single-player modes are like traditional arcade fighting game career modes but with a bit of match-type variation and cheesy cut-scenes.
For example, you may seek to challenge Undertaker at Summer Slam. This involves fighting in 10 successive matches that take in Eliminations, Fatal-4-Ways, the odd Steel Cage and bouts where disqualification and count-out rules are suspended. In between, you get to watch Paul Bearer shrilling to camera while Taker builds you a casket.
You can also take part in across-the-ages showdowns like Andre vs. Big Show and Randy Orton vs. Jake the Snake. Some of these unlock new characters.
The presentation is always light-hearted and innocent enough. The game bears the WWE's usual "don't try this" warning, but the game's 16+ PEGI rating seems a bit fussy. While animations sometimes get confused when you're in a larger match, in general this is as polished and carefully tailored as the TV programming.
Still, WWE All Stars always feels like a snacky sort of game rather than a main dish, and it won't be long before you sense its limitations.
The reliance on reversals to add texture and depth soon becomes an over-reliance, and it would have been nice to see visual prompts to learn reversal timing woven explicitly into the animations. The current system throws up a prompt that makes you look elsewhere onscreen, and it seems to pop up a split second too late to be useful anyway.
Gameplay modes are also limited: online, the basic player and ranked matches are already dominated by people who have perfected reversal timing, while offline you may wish for some of the sport's more esoteric scenarios, such as ladder matches.
Anyone hoping for more elaborate challenge-based modes and other distractions that entertain you while you learn or give you something to do besides just wrestle will be disappointed too.
This certainly isn't the wrestling genre's answer to Super Street Fighter IV, then, but as a complement to THQ's other output in this area including the WWE's unacknowledged but hated rival UFC it does succeed in articulating a solid, well-presented caricature of its subject matter and providing a few hours of knockabout fun.
The game's pitch was always to offer accessible, even-more-ridiculous fun that would mix up Legends and Superstars. If that's all you want, it delivers.