PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a 2.5D Mascot Brawler developed by SuperBot Entertainment and Sony Santa Monica, and published by Sony for both the PS3 and Vita. The game features a cast of 20 playable characters from Sony IPs and “guests” from games that have a history of being on PlayStation systems.
While the game does seem to emulate Super Smash Brothers in its take on Mascot brawlers, the games themselves play very differently. To put context to it; it’s like comparing Call of Duty to Bioshock; while both contain shooting, they play very differently. In this case SSB lets you slowly beat up your opponents before finally finishing them off by knocking them off the map; while All-Stars has you building a meter for one of three kill moves.
The roster of characters is nothing to be sniffed at; it contains some of the most loved characters from the catalogue of PlayStation games. Though it does contain a few choices that are a little odd but good choices nonetheless. What is a little strange is that some of the design choices seem less about the characters and more about cross-promotion.
You have the likes of Nathan Drake, Sly Cooper, Jak & Daxter, Kratos and Ratchet & Clank which is brilliant. Then you have new Dante and Raiden looking like he does in Metal Gear Rising which may irk some people a little. Big Daddy is the odd one out; as it’s not really a PlayStation exclusive and the related level is from Bioshock Infinite which is an odd choice but he fills a nice gap in the character types.
In All-Stars there are no ring outs and there is no health bars instead you have an AP meter to fill. You fill it by beating the stuffing out of your opponents until you’ve filled the bar up to three times. Each fill of the bar steadily becomes more difficult to achieve and an almost full second bar is worth more than two uses of the first bar.
Here’s where things get difficult. By filling the bar at least once, it will allow you to perform a finishing move dependant on the level of the AP bar. It’s also worth noting that whatever level it is at is the exact finishing move you do, so there isn’t any hording of AP to unleash many low level attacks etc. Level one finishing moves tend to be close range attacks that are reasonably easy to miss or interrupt. Level two moves are wider range or offer the ability to insta-kill with all attacks for a brief period of time. They are also uninterruptable but they can still be killed while using it.
Level 3’s have three types: Global attacks that kill all living players once over, a super form of the player that gains special attacks that insta-kill or an effect that changes all other players into more easily killed forms/creatures. It’s fair to say that some characters have better level 3 moves than others, as with all the finishing moves. Some people will be better at earning AP as well, leading to some characters having a much lower skill cap in competitive play.
The levels are really interesting; each is filled with its own traps based on the mash-up of two games, some are less in your face than others and some only really show themselves off after a certain time limit. While some levels do have falls and other traps they don’t damage you. What they will do though is knock AP out of you and falling or succumbing to some of the more heavy traps; will leave you stunned and vulnerable for a few seconds.
The online contains most of the usual game modes: stock, kills and timed are there with their team counterparts as well. The interesting part is that the Ranked play is set into Seasons. It lets you play games and earn a ranking that can unlock specific titles to add to your profile.
Arcade mode lets you fight through a load of battles with a loose plot at the beginning and end to give a small story. It is essentially a single player mode where you fight through the game’s roster before coming up against a final boss. It’s good in that the fights start small and then escalate to more enemies and higher AI difficulties. It lets you practise with a character you’ve never tried before in a less sterile environment than the tutorials but it won’t go easy on you either (unless you pick the lowest difficulty of course).
General trials and Character specific trials will give you a fair amount of challenges to run through but they don’t directly unlock anything and they won’t provide much in terms of interesting battles. They are very much the same challenge with minor changes such as only using certain buttons or types of attacks to gain AP. While they aren’t of interest in general they do offer you training for your character of choice as the limitations make you fight in very specific ways.
Unlockables are all aesthetic; ranging from icons, backgrounds, minions and monikers for your profile or differing costumes, taunts and other things for your individual characters. As you complete games and achieve some of the very large list of achievements, you’ll rank up each character separately and unlock the icons, backgrounds and all manner of extras for the characters. There’s plenty to do and a full 999 ranks for each character though the majority of the rewards are in the first 50 ranks.
The game does feature Cross-play and Cross-buy with the Vita; where you buy the PS3 version and can link a Vita download to your PSN account. It means that you can take the game out on the road/train/toilet and play where you left off your PS3 version. It also means that you can play against people on both the PS3 and Vita at the same time, giving you more people to match up against in total.
Aesthetically pleasing and some of the mash up levels are really good looking and are particularly interesting. Some of the characters don’t look quite as good as they do in their respective games; most notably Nathan Drake. All the voice actors seem to reprise their roles as the characters; though as with the character designs, they are all of the most recent entries or future entries to the series.
The AP and finishing moves are the biggest draw and drawback for the game; you’ll either love it or hate it but it does work really well. Some characters are much easier to learn than others and some characters are much more powerful when playing as a team. The Roster most importantly is varied and fun to play, each character has its own pros and cons, and they all play uniquely (aside from the two Coles who are similarish).
The game is a strong start to what will hopefully continue on to be a series. It is however very different to Smash Brothers and the “All or Nothing” attacks will put some people off. It’s a very fun game and with Cross-Buy and Cross-Play is definitely a must own if you have both PS3 and Vita and a good choice if you only own one of them. It’s reasonably easy to play but high tier gameplay will require combos that take almost Arcade Fighter reflexes to pull off.
Being a big fan of Smash Brothers and not a fan of the final Smashes that Brawl uses I was interested to see how this’d turn out. I’m glad to say it succeeds in what it does but the gameplay does enforce limitations on itself in the form of how easy it can be to miss all your kill moves. Even though it won’t suit everyone’s tastes it is still very competent brawler with some good multiplayer features to back it up.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review,