Playstation All Stars Battle Royale: review

 

Format: PS3/Vita
Unleashed: Out Now
Publisher: SCE
Developer: SuperBot Entertainment, SCE Santa Monica Studio, Bluepoint Games(PS Vita)
Players: 1-4
Site: http://www.playstationallstarsbattleroyale.com

Despite borrowing characters from some other publishers’ gaming universes, between the PS1 and PS3 Sony have developed a number of very strong characters such as PaRappa, Drake, Kratos, and many more. Hence, this game is pure fan service for those dedicated Sony fanboys who want their own bit of ‘Super Smash’.

Can you name all of them and tell us what game they are from? Actually you’ll know far more than you think.

The core gameplay involves 2-4 characters on screen at once punching the living daylights out of each other. Each ‘stage’ is based on a gaming franchise and is often dynamic, either scrolling or blowing up things affecting the players on screen. Each character controls the same, but has their own very unique style of fighting. Some use guns, some kung fu, some swords or other melee weapons. Balancing playstyles in this type of game is especially hard, and whilst an attempt has been made here it seems certain characters get a better deal. With simple 1v1 matches this isn’t such a problem as one player can counter the strengths of another, but with four players things get very manic as it’s impossible to be able to counter other characters’ weighted strengths with multiple players at once. With a four player match your best bet is to play a strong defence hand and then strike when you have an open window.

Campaign gives each playable character their own story arc to play through, with some simple slide show/static art cards and a voiceover trying to create some kind of narrative (‘some kind’ is the best description), and you play a bunch of characters over a number of stages, until reaching the end boss. On the most basic difficulty this is a pushover, but there are two levels to play through, each with their own selection of CPU characters. This means playing all three difficulties is worth doing as you get a different path to the end each time.

Level settings are taken from game franchises and generally look lovely. They are dynamic too, and events in the background will affect your battle, from moving scenario to off-screen attacks and more.

Single player options include a basic tutorial and a simple ‘trials’ mode. This is in effect a practise mode, where you are set basic challenges. Ideal for portable play, and a nice way of levelling up your profile. However it’s a little shallow and more could have be done with it. The stages in All Stars are detailed and some are quite expansive, so having some comedy and Joe Danger style challenges would have really added depth to the single player mode.

When it comes to multiplayer we have local or adhoc multiplayer with friends called Versus Match. It can be a mixture of human and CPU players based upon the hosts preferences. The meat and veg of All Stars though is the Tournament mode. This is full online multiplayer. Both competitive – with results helping to populate a league table – or a simple ‘Quick Match’ option for someone just wanting a quick fix online. The matches are frantic, a little crazy but a lot of fun. We often had problems getting a match however, constantly being kicked out of servers. Hopefully this issue will be resolved with time.

All Stars supports Cross-Play. Get the PS3 version and you get the Vita version for free. Game saves work between the two platforms. It works really nicely and is superb value.

The Vita version comes free with the PS3 copy, under the ‘cross-play’ brand. It looks practically identical on both systems; but when the camera pans out, it can get a bit hard to see what is going on on the Vita. On the other hand, the trial mode and general fight length support portable play perfectly. The range of moves are great and inventive. Players will find their perfect character, but we kept moving between Nathan Drake who has some great long distance gun attacks and Parappa the Rappa, who fights like a member of the dance group Diversity.

The cutscene animations (where they are present) are great, but too often we get simple static art cards which are poor. In addition, whilst the Sony brand is more adult than Nintendo, the game takes itself just a little too seriously. Some brighter colours and humour across the board would have made the experience far more fun in tone.

Some of the level settings are a little obscure and, unless you really know your Sony franchises, you might be a little lost with regard to the reference points. Either way though they look lovely, and if you want to learn your Sony this is a great way to do it!

Asking if this is a good ‘super smash’ clone is a little unfair. We should be judging it on its own merits, but nonetheless it’s hard to resist a good comparison! The answer is that the game is a good clone, but it has a very distinct Sony flavour of its own. Sure, it needs more content and slightly better production values on the cutscenes to justify a full price tag, but if you love brawling and think the idea of such a wide range of characters playing off against each other is like a PlayStation dream, then you’ll love this. The moves are true to each character’s background, and the stages really do come alive by authentically referencing the game they are built on (Resistance, Sly Cooper for example). The whole package feels legitimate; that it really is Nathan Drake facing off against Kratos or Cole. In addition if you do have a Vita, then the cross-play opens up a new way of experiencing the game, and it’s certainly good value with that thrown in.

It feels a little rough around the edges, as if most of the work went on getting the fight engine working, with the actual imagination in gameplay and modes taking a back seat. You can’t fault that fight engine though. Meanwhile we’re looking forward to the sequel: ‘All Stars Brawl anyone?

critical score 8

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands.

He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person ‘free world’, narrative driven and portable gaming.
He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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