When talking about Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, it is virtually impossible to not compare it against what is considered to be the benchmark of crossover fighting games, Nintendo’s Smash Bros. Sharing the same premise and game mechanics, Playstation All Stars lets you choose among characters coming from Sony game franchises as they are pitted against each other in free for all combat. However, Playstation All Stars was still able to inject its own elements that set it apart from its counterpart, although if these are good or bad changes, that is up to the players to decide.
Like Smash Bros., Playstation All Stars features different characters from Sony games such as Kratos from God of War, Cole MacGrath from Infamous, Jax and Dexter from their self titled game series, Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet, and PaRappa from Parappa the Rapper. Also playable within the game are characters from third party titles such as Big Daddy from BioShock and Heihachi Mishima from Tekken. Unlike Smash Bros. that limited its pool of characters to “born and raised” characters, Playstation All Stars was able to dive into deeper sources for their characters. Still, this takes much away from the game if their concept is to provide a form of salute to those that made Sony the success that it is today, and the inclusion of fairly new characters such as Raiden from Metal Gear sort of blurs the line between having “classic” and “one shot” characters in a game that should pretty much serve as a tribute for the various franchises from Sony.
The fighting mechanics within the game can also pretty much turn off some players who desire a bigger challenge, regardless of its party style battle concept. Bashing away at enemies in a four way free for all does not feel like a go for broke bout, as the only real damage that players can do is when they are able to collect enough orbs to perform a super attack. Other than that, all other strikes are only time consuming tasks up until the time that you are able to unleash your specials. Although the game does offer up different single player and multiplayer modes, the concept pretty much stays the same, unable to provide variety for fighting game fanatics that want a bigger challenge above and beyond what is presented to them by Playstation All Stars.
What the game does offer, however, are several themed stages that meld the environments of two games together in order to create one unique level. Examples of these are Hades, which is a combination of God of War and Patapon themed environments, and Dreamscape, based off LittleBigPlanet and Buzz!. Another great feature of the game is the ability of players to collect and use weapons based off the characters’ respective games such as Resistance’s Hedgehog Grenade and Wipeout’s Gravity Shield. This pretty much serves up some pretty great What-If scenarios, such as what would happen if DC’s The Flash and Warner Bros’ Speedy Gonzales would go one on one in a race.
Playstation All Stars’ single player mode also offers up different storylines for each character. Each character is paired up with a rival, and battles revolve around their respective plots. While some narratives can be quite compelling, others may seem too forced, although it can be quite interesting how Sony was able to mash up the different characters’ backstories into one more or less cohesive plot which would justify why they were paired up in the first place.
Despite some players’ complaints that Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is nothing more than a half hearted attempt from Sony to create a rival for Smash Bros., one feature that can be lauded about the former is its seamless cross playability between the Playstation 3 and the Playstation Vita. Even the multiplayer online function performs well without lags, something that those who find online gaming a bit cumbersome. Players are also able to find opponents online quite easily, if playing an upgraded version of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em with total strangers is what floats their boats. Regardless, this seamlessness of playability both online and with different consoles reflects the technical prowess of Sony as a game developer, as they were also able to perfectly adapt the game into a handheld console, providing virtually all the same features in both platforms while being able to adapt the game perfectly with their respective and inherent controls.
In conclusion, while Playstation All Stars Battle Royale would always be considered as a Smash Bros. clone, the game does offer up a nugget of enjoyment especially for fans of God of War, Devil May Cry, Tekken, and the variety of other games that the different characters have been derived from. Unfortunately, that sense of nostalgia may be all that players would get from this, as the game itself lacks the challenge and mental stimulation that hardcore fighting fans would want in their games. At best, Playstation All Stars can be categorized as a beat ‘em up game where button mashers can potentially reign supreme over even the more seasoned of players, and the tide of battle can turn depending on who can unleash super attacks first.
Whatever criticisms or praises that we throw upon Playstation All Stars, hopefully Sony would be able to come up with refinements and enhancements in its all too probable sequel in order to better provide a more suitable tribute to those characters and franchises that made Sony what it is today. Hopefully, these improvements would also enable Playstation All Stars Battle Royale to finally get away from the shadow of Smash Bros., the game that it would inevitably be compared to, at least until it is able to offer up something that is able to take the game, as well as the crossover fighting game, into a whole new level. Until then, however, we just have to settle with the old characters from different games beating each other up concept, albeit under a different banner but with a familiar coat of paint.
Tested on PS3. Final Score: 6/10
Playstation All Stars Battle Royale was developed by Superbot Entertainment, SCE Santa Monica Studio, and Bluepoint Games (for the Playstation Vita). It was published by Sony Computer Entertainment and is available for both the Vita and the Playstation 3. It will be released by mid November of this year in North America, Europe, Australia, and the United Kingdom, while Japan will be looking at a January 31, 2013 release.