EGM’s High Five: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
It’s not exactly a secret in the gaming industry that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale cribs much of its concept from Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Sony certainly isn’t the first developer/publisher that’s taken notes from the Big N’s popular four-player brawler. But the real issue is style, and whether Sony can shake the perception that this fighting game is a mere cash-in copycat.
Super Size It
But even though it’s practically using the same theme as Super Smash Bros, PlayStation All-Stars plays a lot differently. Instead of damaging opponents and knocking them out of the level, the focus is using “super moves” to rack up kills. Hitting anyone with a super move instantly takes them out of the game for a few seconds, and a string of successful kills beefs up your score. In our demo at Sony’s PlayStation booth, our nine-minute demo went twice as long as intended—if two players are tied for the most kills, the match goes into overtime, double overtime, or in our case, triple overtime.
One For Everyone
So far, the best part of the game is seeing what the “Level 3” super moves look like for each character. Kratos turns into an enormous, fully armored version of himself; Uncharted‘s Nathan Drake uses an ancient relic to turn everyone into defenseless skeletons; Sly Cooper’s Level 3 super move turns the battlefield into a camera scope; while Killzone‘s Mael Radec launches heating seeking missiles. If you don’t want to wait to build up your super moves, you use can them at Level 1 or Level 2, but they’re much easier for everyone else to dodge, so there’s an inherent risk-reward factor.
Large Levels, Tiny Fighters
Right now, the biggest problem facing PlayStation All-Stars is size. All of the levels feel a bit too wide and large for characters to brawl together, and some battle areas, certain characters can easily win matchs with an un-dodgeable level 3 super move. Take Kratos for example—his Level 3 super move almost can’t be dodged in an enclosed area, so picking him on Hades or Metropolis essentially nets you an instant win. But picking the God of War on a level with no walls dooms you to failure, as his size makes him unable to climb and drop to certain areas.
As far as straight-up brawling, PlayStation All-Stars can come off as a pale imitation of Super Smash that really doesn’t show very good fighting mechanics. If you attack someone, you can essentially string off a long, heavy chain of combos with no pushback or latency, letting you rack up cheap hits over and over. About the only way to successfully put up any offense is to find that one move that works for each character and spam it throughout the entire match. It lacks variety or technique, although it’ll probably be more inviting for casual players who don’t want to memorize complicated tactics.
Hey Now, You’re An All-Star
As far as the visuals and presentation, PlayStation All-Stars looks like a finished product even though the game doesn’t release until this holiday season. All of the characters look very faithful to their original franchise counterparts, right down to their expressions and taunts. In the case of older PlayStation icons like PaRappa, his updated look is appropriately retro, with his body being flat and slight 2D dimensional, like a cloth puppet. If Sony can tighten the game’s noticeable balance issues, the whole thing hopefully won’t rest solely on the roster’s PlayStation-only gimmick.