PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Developer: SuperBot Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PS3, PS Vita
Release Date: November 20
Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale is a crossover fighting game where all our favorite characters from the PS2 to the PS3 come together to battle it out, what could be described as Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s popular “Super Smash Bros” franchise, to which there hasn’t been a game done in quite the same style until now. Does Playstation All-Stars stand up on its own? Or is it just a poor man’s Super Smash Bros?
The game features a diverse roster of characters. From the well known such as Kratos, Nathan Drake, Cole, Sly and Jak and Daxter, to the more obscure like Fat Princess, PaRappa the rapper and sir Daniel from Medieval. Surprisingly there are also a few 3rd party characters, such as Dante from Devil May Cry (in his new rebooted incarnation) Raiden from Metal Gear (looking as ridiculous as ever) and a Big Daddy from Bioshock ,while he seems the most out of place in terms of the connection to Playstation, it’s a welcome edition none the less. Overall there are 20 characters not including the DLC.
While these characters may not have the same level of recognition and universal appeal of the Nintendo cast, there’s no doubt many of them have carved out their own little place in gaming history. Some of which you could say are icons of this generation. As far as personal taste goes I actually like some of them more than the cast of Super Smash Bros , because when it comes down to it they have a lot more personality.
Tutorials and game play
Each characters move-set feels personalized and true to their game of origin. Cole from Infamous can electrically glide across the ground, lightning grapple and pull himself to opponents or walls and even use his “static thrusters” to slow his fall to the ground. The Big Daddy actually feels heavy, makes use of his drill, and even has a few different plasmids at his disposal. In both cases it feels very close to what you might see and play in their original games. The controls work well for the most part and pulling off moves and combos feels very satisfying.
If you’re going up against tougher opponents, then you’d want to have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing
Like any fighter there is a large range of moves and combos at your disposal if you’re willing to learn them and can resist the temptation to button mash (that is if you’re not big on fighters). That said however you don’t have to memorize and master every combo and every technique to have fun, as part of the appeal of a game like this is to jump straight into the action. You can get by fine on the basics, as I was able breeze through arcade mode fairly easily on normal difficulty, however if you’re going up against tougher opponents (particularly online) then you’d want to have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing, which probably makes for a more rewarding experience anyway.
Thankfully throughout the game there’s no shortage of opportunities to practice and hone your skills. There are 4 tutorials, Basic: which as you can guess covers the very basics. Advanced: which is more about moving around and avoiding hazard (still pretty basic stuff you could pick through the game). Character: which is a rundown of all the unique attacks each character can do, very useful for getting a feel for your character and which best suits your play style, and of course Combos: dedicated to learning and memorizing all those complex button combinations that are a major part of any fighter.
While comparisons to Super Smash Bros are not only inevitable but expected, All-Stars is by no means a carbon copy.
While comparisons to Super Smash Bros are not only inevitable but expected, All-Stars is by no means a carbon copy. In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale there are no health bars, the only way to kill your opponent is to use a characters “special” powers. To get these special powers you have an “AP meter” which must be filled through combat. For every hit your opponent takes your AP meter increases, the more powerful the attack the more points you’ll get, like a reverse health bar. Your AP meter can fill up 3 times; each increment is a “level”. For example fill it up once, you’re at level 1, fill it up again your level 2, fill it up once more your maxed out at level 3. “Spending” your special power at any level will deplete your AP meter completely, leaving you to fill it up again.
While all special powers can kill your opponent’s different levels can be more effective. For example getting to level 1 is obviously the quickest, however this attack can easily miss or be interrupted (wasting all that effort) Level 2 takes a little longer but it’s much more effective in terms of damage and less easily avoided by your opponents. If you stick it out and manage to get to level 3 then your character unleashes their level 3 which does vary between characters, but generally allows you to become an unstoppable killing machine for a short period of Time. Level 3 attacks cannot be interrupted and are very hard to avoid. This system works pretty well and adds a certain amount of strategy in deciding what level attacks to use, weather to spend the lower levels or hold back in hopes of getting to level 3 and requires you to react accordingly depending on your opponents AP level and move set.
Multiplayer and Presentation
It should come as no surprise that the main focus and appeal of Playstation All-stars is in its multiplayer, both Local and online. Its definitely the kind of game you would want to play with your friends, (In the same room as well!) you can either play against each other or team up against online opponents. I have pretty average internet but I was able to connect and play matches without too much frustration. Even if you are going solo it’s a lot more satisfying to know your opponent is a real person rather than AI, and of course it’s far more challenging. Though there is no guarantee you’ll go up against players within a similar level, and may find yourself up against someone far more skilled. There is “quick match” which is just an online match. Then there are ranked matches which operate in monthly seasons, the season leader boards are reset at the start of a new season.
Graphically there’s not really much to say as there are very few areas you could go noticeably wrong in a game like this. Each individual character looks pretty good and overall there’s lots of color and spectacle. The levels each based off the various characters games range from bright and colorful to “gritty brown” with big dynamic set pieces going on in the background, at first they can be more distracting or interesting than the fight itself (especially the Bioshock infinite level) but you soon get used to them. Aside from a few hazards the levels themselves don’t have a huge impact on matches and are essentially just backdrops for the action. Again they look perfectly fine from a graphical standpoint.
Arcade mode and single player
Arcade mode was the first thing I tried, and the closest the game has to a story campaign. However “story” is not the right word, in fact even “context” feels too strong as there really isn’t any. To start off I chose my favorite character, Cole McGrath. It starts out with a little slideshow cutscene and monologue as coal talks of his city, of how it’s tearing itself apart and needs help… apparently there is a gathering of “a group of special people” and he must find them. This is the same for every character you choose at the start. The cut scene will play and they will give a short monologue vaguely alluding to the fact they are going to go off and fight some people.
The majority of Arcade mode you are put into 4 player “free for all” matches.
The majority of Arcade mode you are put into 4 player “free for all” matches. These matches aren’t really unique to ones played in other single player modes or multiplayer in terms of aesthetics or gameplay. However after a few matches we then face as 1 vs. 1 match with your characters “rival”. Each character has a specific rival. For example if I play as Nariko from heavenly sword she will always go up against Dante, and the same if I play as Dante ,except the cut scene plays from his perspective( though there’s not much difference either way). Seeing the characters interact is probably the better part of arcade mode, sometimes it can be somewhat amusing like seeing Colonel Radec from Killzone getting annoyed with Sir Daniel. While it is interesting to play through all the characters to see who goes up against who first time around, as far as I know it doesn’t really change after that and aside from those few cutscenes there’s nothing particularly new or interesting about the whole set-up.
After the 1vs1 match its time to face the final boss who is clearly “inspired by” Master Hand from smash brothers, except in this case he’s a crystal Head (or polygon head) who can speak. Nothing here is really explained beyond the fact that this guy is a giant head and is he is bad, for some reason. After defeating the main boss our character gets a little ending cut scene/monologue also related to their respective games (never once mentioning their rival or the crystal head) and that’s it.
This attempt to give context seems pretty half-hearted, especially when compared to smash bros which actually had a bigger and much more involved plot (and while I don’t know what was going on there at least you knew they were trying) whereas here there’s really very little in terms of anything tying these seemingly random fights together, except a different backdrop and a fleeting conversation between two characters. While I don’t expect or really want a big convoluted story about how all these characters came together, more character interaction and maybe something new for single player might have improved things overall, as it is Arcade mode feels somewhat lazy and even unnecessary.
Another single player mode is “challenge” mode this is where you complete set, specific challenges with either a character of your choice or a default character. These Challenges start out simple and gradually get harder; one example is getting multiple kills with a level 2 special movie. Challenge mode feels more like an extension of the tutorial, perhaps useful for practicing your skills or for those who like to challenge themselves, but having to follow specific rules in a game like this (personally) is not my Idea of fun .Another game mode is VS match is where you can set up any kind of fight you want either against an AI or friend,(that one is pretty self explanatory) . There is also an incredibly Detailed Practice mode where you can control how your AI opponent behaves, so if you want test your “air” based attacks, set your opponent to jump up in the air repeatedly, or if you want they will stand still and act as punching bags.
From the offset the majority of the characters and levels are available. By playing both single and multiplayer modes and earning XP you can unlock customization options for both individual characters and your profile. This includes different outfits…intro animations, taunts, different “titles” for your profile to show off your elite status, and even little miniature “mascots” which are little bobble headed characters that pop up at certain times (in your intro and if you do something impressive).Most of these unlockables are purely cosmetic, but having different costumes for characters is a nice touch.
Playstation Allstars is a fun fighter, nothing more and nothing less. The majority of the game seems focused on practicing your skills for online or going up against friends. If neither of these things sound particularly appealing then this may not be the game for you, as there’s really not much else on offer in terms of single player and progression (aside from the previously mentioned cosmetic unlockables). What the game does offer though, (an action packed fighting game using recognizable characters), it delivers rather well.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review Score: 7.9
Why so high? A fun, solid fighter great for going up against friends and just as fun and challenging and testing your skills online.
Why so low? More character interaction and a single player mode that wasn’t tacked on may have added more to the overall package.