Sony’s attempt to beat Nintendo at their own game comes in the shape of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, a Super Smash Bros. inspired party brawler, brought to us by Superbot (PS3) and Bluepoint Games (PS Vita.)
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, from here on in will simply be referred to as PS All-Stars, because damn that is one long title for a game. Seriously, try writing that ten times in a row without hating life.
Anyway, on to the review…
It’s a simple formula that has you pick one of the many characters on offer and take on the most recognisable characters from the biggest franchises, from Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, God of War’s resident pyhsco Kratos to LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboy, there’s a wealth of characters for you to choose from.
The first mode I tried was the single player campaign, because for me there’s just nothing like a good old-fashioned bit of lonely playing with yourself.
Not in that way.
As I first got into the game I have to admit, I was at a loss and ended up being beaten pretty badly numerous times, mainly due to being a bit put off with the controls. The first 10-15 minutes I turned the air blue with my favorite insults, and no doubt the vast majority of you will too.
It’s not a massive problem and doesn’t ruin the game, but just don’t expect to pick it up straight away and expect to beat Kratos with your little Sackboy. Unless you played the beta release and already have a firm grasp on the controls, expect a small learning curve with the controls. This is common with most games though, and thankfully there are tutorials to guide you. Just make sure you pay attention to them, and not just ignore them like I did.
The game plays out similarly to its inspiration, the Super Smash Bros. series. It’s not a bad thing, it works and gets the job done. I’m not going to compare it to Super Smash Bros. through the entire review, don’t worry, it’s just a frame of reference so you can get an idea as to what to expect.
Many have debated that PS All-Stars is nothing more than a cheap clone designed to cash in on the success of Sony’s rival Nintendo. You would be forgiven for thinking it, but once you get stuck into the game you notice some big differences in the way the game plays.
The aim is to defeat your opponents by beating them to a pulp as you fight it out across the localities of the games characters. 2D brawling at its best some would say, and I would have to agree with them. It sounds simple enough, but there is a catch. You need to cause enough damage to your enemies to earn the right to deploy a special move, of which there are 3 tiers, and obviously the higher tier move you use, the better your success rate will be. Each character has their own set of specials which are a true pleasure to watch, even if you’ve seen them 100 times, seeing Cole from inFamous blast the crap out of Sackboy (I despise the little git and enjoy every attack put his way) just won’t get old.
This system of earning your win by fighting hard works really well and is the main mechanic that sets it apart from its rivals. However, it’s not all gold and glory. I have to admit, as much as I loved ruining Sackboy from the inside and out with each characters specials, it does at times feel a bit too easy and overpowered. I fully expect some balancing issues will be patched once the game has hit the shelves.
One of the other features that makes PS All-Stars stand out is the fact there is some sort of overlying story, with each character having a rival and a reason for them being arch-enemies. It’s a nice touch that adds to the game and fleshes out the characters while at the same time providing a few laughs. I won’t give too much away here as this is one of the special treats of the game, but Sackboys rival is Big Daddy. That’s right, Big Daddy from Bioshock who has a massive drill for an arm. If only there was a live action interpretation…
Not content with just giving you a single player campaign to enjoy, there is also a single player ‘challenge’ mode. In this you will basically just be going through the paces again but with the aim of meeting certain criteria and completing set objectives, which of course will earn you those valuable Trophies to add to your collection.
The game not only plays great, but looks it to. The first thing that strikes the eye is the visual presentation, which is top-notch for a portable game and stands up against the rest of the PS Vita crowd. Characters look alive and are animated superbly, each with their own nuances and mannerisms for you to enjoy.The arenas in which you will attempt to rip the stuffing out of Sackboy (told you I despised the little git) are equally impressive, taking you across many familiar scenes from the different characters respective games.
Menus are clear and uncluttered making navigation easy. That’s it, they’re good menus. Nothing spectacular but at the same time you don’t need detailed instructions or a map.
PS All-Stars sounds great on the PS Vita’s inbuilt speakers, from every line of cheeky battle banter to the superb music, it’s all good and sound’s just like it should be coming from your TV. That said, you will appreciate the games audio design much more with a decent pair of earphones. There are times that I noticed the music sounded a little off and distorted, not all the time, just on the odd occasion.
The multiplayer is where the staying power is for PS All-Stars and most will find themselves coming back to this more than the single player.
The modes are simple and keep you engaged, that’s all you can ask from a multiplayer experience on the go. With your standard free-for-all and 2v2 matches making appearances. Hopefully this isn’t a thing to be worried about, but I experienced some difficulty getting into a game, taking me a few attempts. While this isn’t uncommon in games, it’s still an issue that could be dealt with, or maybe it’s just there wasn’t that many people playing. Either way, when you do get into a game you can be certain you’ll have a blast. One thing I learned over the course of playing the multiplayer is that most of the frustrations come from being beaten by better players. Plain and simple.
The PS Vita has a magnificent screen, but at times you’ll find yourself lost amongst the action. On more than a few occasions I found myself having to really concentrate to keep track of my character among the sprawling messy action. It’s a small thing that you may be able to get used to, but for me it just got a bit annoying at times and I could have used the camera being a bit more zoomed in.
It’s a great first attempt to bring a Smash Bros. type party brawler to the Playstation, and one that is applauded for the most part. Save for a couple of niggles here and there, it’s a strong fighter worthy of your time. Packed with content to keep you entertained for hours, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale provides a certain ingredient that is often overlooked in the world of first-person shooters and over complicated combo fighters, fun. It’s good fun (after the first 10 minutes of learning the controls) and I strongly recommend it.
Graphics: The game looks great on the PS Vita’s huge screen, characters are alive and the detail in the arenas are top-notch. 8
Gameplay: Hours are lost in the single player and even more will be lived out in the multiplayer. Top notch fighting mechanics and numerous challenges to complete, as well as your standard Tropies. This one will keep you going for a long time. 9
Sound: Music is great, characters are a joy to listen to and the sound of Kratos going mental is, as always, pretty scary. 8
Presentation: Menus are easy enough to navigate with colorful backgrounds to please your eyes until you get into the main game. 8
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