Ah, where do I begin with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. For starters, I have been excited about this game’s release since its announcement. Following every last detail of reveals, leaks, rumors, etc, I only continued to grow more and more pumped for its release. A game that has been requested by the many PlayStation fans, be it a Smash Bros. clone or not. All of that being said, where does it stand? Does it live up to the hype or exceed it? Is it welcoming enough to become a staple franchise for Sony’s iconic system and systems to come?
PlayStation All-Stars isn’t a Smash Bros. clone. If that is something on your mind, clear it now and play the game. While at first glance, a complete rip-off would be the first idea to come into one’s mind, the similarities drop right at appearance. The two games couldn’t play any more different. As a fan of Super Smash Bros. and PlayStation overall, I can honestly say this game is very different from its competition.
Gameplay & Presentation
PlayStation All-Stars has the feel of a fighting game. While controls aren’t as technical as your Street Fighters or Tekkens, All-Stars is built with the idea of strategy and character building. Even though the game’s main focus is to provide a hectic, 4v4 match-up, the game even feels a lot better and a lot more tense in 1v1 battles. Controls are easy to pick up, but hard to master; something promoted by the development team for the longest. Moves are matched to a direction and face button press, an example of such being Sackboy’s down and circle laying down an electric trap. Each character plays wildly different, aside from Evil Cole MacGrath and Hero Cole MacGrath. Players looking to jump right in can pick up Kratos, but those looking for a technical challenge may find themselves picking up Ninja Theory’s Dante. Mastering a character is a fantastic feeling, especially after winning a few matches online with your character of choice. However one chooses to play, the experience – whether it being taking time to master or picking up and going – is a ton of fun.
Another drastic difference from Smash Bros. is how players win matches. Whereas Super Smash Bros. has players knocking each other off the stage, PlayStation All-Stars focuses on “killing” players. To kill, players must build up their super meters by attacking their opponent and scoring AP. A level 1 super may require precise timing, whereas a level 3 super can pretty much guarantee you a high number of kills. While it sounds like you will be going right in for your level 3 super, strategic players will take other options into consideration. A character like PaRappa gets a guaranteed 3 kills with his level 3 super, but nothing more. However, his level 2 can score a potential of 4-6 kills. Each character has these strategic decisions, and it extends even more when in a 1v1 battle. The Super system works and adds a vast amount of depth and strategy to the game. Plus, who doesn’t like hearing “I Gotta Believe” before knocking out your opponents?
Now, as is with most fighting games, there are some balancing issues. Characters like Kratos are incredibly overpowered, not only being a powerful character but also a quick AP earner, with a level 3 super that has the potential of clearing the stage twice. It can get quite annoying not being able to build a level 1 super when a Kratos can build a level 3 three times in one match.
Graphics are vibrant and animations are on point, along with the game running incredibly smooth – a must for a fighting game. However, while the game impresses in graphical aesthetics, menu presentation is very lackluster. While simplistic in nature, it all seems pretty bland and boring. The roster sports a total of 20 characters, composed on some very iconic PlayStation characters and others, well, not so much. The newer characters – such as Nathan Drake and Sackboy – appear, along with some PS2 era characters – Kratos and Sly Cooper. However, the inclusion of classic, forgotten characters – such as PaRappa the Rapper and Sir Daniel Fortesque – is where this roster hits fans the most. As for other characters – Raiden and Dante in particular – it almost seems like a marketing plea. It goes without saying Snake is an iconic character to PlayStation history, so seeing Raiden make the cut before Snake is questionable. Same can be said for Ninja Theory’s Dante. This is in no way SuperBot or Sony’s fault, but it does leave for a questionable roster. Even Big Daddy, whom I’m a big fan of, seems odd in a game that focuses on PlayStation history.
Stages are also well done. Each stage not only takes one IP, but two and mashes them together for some epic crossovers. Ever wondered what it would be like to have a Metal Gear Ray fighting in the background of a LocoRoco stage? Be prepared for the epic fight! Stages also provide hazards for players, which could create a hectic mess of AP for those who avoid said hazards. Thankfully, these can be turned off for players who strictly want to duke it out with their opponents.
For the Single Player Gamer…
PlayStation All-Stars is easily a multiplayer focused game. The single player experience brings with it combo trials, character trials and, of course, an arcade mode. Combo trials are a good way to learn the ins and outs of your favorite characters, whereas character trials are mere challenges to kill time. While combo trials are beneficial and enjoyable for the most part, character trials seem too tacked on and overall not that much fun. The arcade mode is where the game’s “story” lays.
The arcade follows each character and their purpose for entering this huge gathering. Players move their way up the ladder, face their rival and then battle the final boss. To develop this “story” a cutscene solely composed still shots and voice overs play for the character’s intro and ending. The only true cutscene is the character’s rival scenes, which are pretty cool for the most part. Despite that, the story is rather disappointing. Rivalries don’t really dive into any deep waters, aside from the opening cinematic and their cutscenes. However, we never really find out what happens after the rival battle. Beware of slight spoilers following: Whatever happens to Drake after he beats Sly for the map? Does Kratos ever pay for Sweet Tooth’s ice cream? All that happens after the rival battle is progression to the final boss fight against Polygon Man, which is also pretty disappointing. The fight itself is not a problem, but for a character that has been missing for years, one can only hope some sort of development proceeds this big moment. Why is Polygon Man calling all these PlayStation icons together? While it is a fighting game, and they aren’t known for packaging a deep story, it has been proven that it can be done right with games like Mortal Kombat. Let’s hope a sequel can add a deeper story into the mix, allowing for interaction not between two PlayStation characters, but between many.
For the Multiplayer Gamer…
As noted earlier, All-Stars is a multiplayer game. And with that, it succeeds. Playing with friends is where the most fun will be had with this game, be it local or online. Got a bunch of friends coming over? Break out the game, and prepare for some hectic matches composed of shouting “Oh!” The online is composed of a neat ranking system, dealt with colored belts and a level system for your character. Leveling up your character unlocks a ton of neat content, including various intros, outros and taunts. While leveling up each character can be done in the game’s single player modes, expect most of your leveling to be done online.
While timed Free For Alls and 2v2s are fun, it is pretty disappointing not being able to play 1v1 games in ranked matches. That being said, it is available in Versus WiFi mode if you want to battle it out with your friends. While it is a slight disappointment, it in no way brings down the multiplayer experience too much, and is still a blast to play.
The X Factor
The game also supports Sony’s newest Cross Buy feature, so each PS3 copy comes with a downloadable PS Vita version. The game is just as incredibly on Vita as it is on the PS3. While loading times are a bit longer and some very minor bugs join the port, the game is still a blast to play and includes nothing incredibly game breaking. The port looks great and plays great, and is perfect to continue your experience on the go.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a game that has been asked for by players for years. The game is an incredibly fun experience, especially when played with your friends. While the game’s single player experience disappoints, namely in its lackluster story, the solid, strategic gameplay and multiplayer focus brings the experiences up. The roster is a bit questionable, but some of the familiar faces shine through the disappointing additions. Throw in creative, mash-up stages to the mix, and you have yourself an experience worth trying for not only fighting fans, but for all PlayStation fans. If you are fan of PlayStation, go pick up this game – it won’t disappoint.
- A deep, strategic ‘Super’ gameplay mechanic
- Graphics are vibrant and animations are smooth; the game just looks beautiful
- Familiar faces and classic icons shine through the more questionable decisions
- Unique stage crossovers that are not only awesome to fight on, but awesome to see
- Combo trials succeeds in helping players learn the ins and outs of their character of choice
- A robust character leveling up system and online rank system; albeit an incredibly fun local/multiplayer experience
- A fairly decent Vita port for the price of $0
- Slight balancing issues
- Slightly bland and boring UI
- Questionable additions to the roster – two Cole’s, Raiden over Snake, etc.
- Lackluster single player experience, namely the disappointing “story” mode; still shot cutscenes, shallow character interactions