Article written by Blair Inglis.
Published on 20/11/2012 at 04:00 PM.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a tough one to judge. It’s certainly different to most fighting games on the market.
Even though it might look as though it’s styled as more of a party game, when you get down to the core of it there’s more than enough content for fighting fans to get excited about. It brilliantly manages to rank itself amongst the more challenging fighters without sacrificing accessibility, thanks to PlayStation’s well-known all-star roster.
There are no lengthy combos here, though; the gameplay is all about singular button presses and directional smashes. Rather than streams of complicated button presses and precise timing, attacks are activated by hitting one of the face buttons (it’s generally square for close range, triangle for long range and circle for special attacks, with X for jumping) along with a direction. So pushing the left stick up and pressing triangle, for example, would have a completely different effect from just pressing triangle alone, such as pulling out a different gun or pulling off a different move, depending on the character.
But there’s still one niggling problem with the game – the Supers system. There are three levels of Super attacks for each character, each of which is more devastating than the last; you can activate these attacks after building up your meter by collecting AP – either by picking up orbs lying around or by attacking other players.
Using these Super attacks are the only ways you can kill another player, and it ultimately devalues the gameplay when you can sometimes destroy everyone else with nothing more than a press of the R2 button.
It’s justified, however – SuperBot clearly didn’t want the game being a battle to push-your-opponent off the edge and the attacks still do count. Each hit builds up your AP meter and allows you to unlock different levels of the Super attacks. There could have been a much better system in place but it definitely grows on you as you play more of the game.
On the Vita, Battle Royale is something of a treat. It maintains the franctic sixty frames per second seen on the PS3 version and runs at the Vita’s native resolution, so it looks lovely and sharp. Sure, some of the character models are a little more basic, but the environments are just as vivid and detailed, with all the same animations in place.
It plays nicely, too, the only concession in terms of control the lack of shoulder buttons, where a touch screen takes the place of picking up objects. The fact that you can play alongside PS3 owners (and online, too) is a shining example of Sony’s Cross Play functionality, and it works well.
So, whilst some may prefer the big-screen PS3 version, the fact that the Vita version is every bit as good a game means you can take your Battle Royale on the move without worrying about much in the way of compromise and actually in some cases (like the tweaked, improved UI) actually the better game.
Thankfully, the game excels on nearly all other fronts – the arcade mode is perfectly played-out, boiling down to several standard matches, a battle with your rival (each player is matched up with someone and it works quite brilliantly) and then, finally, a boss battle against the revived Polygon Man: the very first, if short-lived, North American PlayStation mascot.
There’s even character-specific story scenes with dialogue and art before and after each character’s arcade mode; SuperBot should be proud of just how loyal they’ve been with each game series, emulating them all perfectly in 2.5D fighting form.
It’s not just about each singular series, however, since the game is effectively a giant mash-up. The levels reflect this wonderfully, with each level bringing elements from two franchises together. Metropolis, for example, is a standard Ratchet & Clank city level… until the Hydra that we all know from the opening scene of God of War bursts out from the background and starts attacking. Items from various PlayStation games will appear too, often in the form of weapons to use against your foes.
And then there’s the plethora of unlockables – costumes, intros, outros and victory music for all of the characters, along with icons and backgrounds for your playercard, to show off your achievements online. Each character you play as has a rank, and as you progress through the levels by simply fighting (and winning, of course) – either in local versus, the challenges, arcade mode or even online, you’ll unlock more of these.
The challenges – both character-specific combat trials and general challenges – are brilliant, too, with tons for each character and hundreds in total. These really help you learn to master any given character, with challenges ranging from getting kills with your Super attacks to being limited to using specific moves.
There’s just so much to do in All-Stars, and while it’s mostly the same thing, it shouldn’t be something that you’ll find boring at any point; whilst the variety in arcade mode or the challenges might seem limited, each time you play with a different character it feels like a whole new experience, since getting to know how the characters work, what their Super moves do and the best strategy for each of them is quite fun in itself.
Each character has been built from the ground up, in order to reflect the gameplay in their ‘home’ game, but they still all work well in a 2.5D fighting environment, and the roster is just fantastic. Kratos is a brilliant example of a character transitioning into fighter form – pressing square, square and triangle will still do his signature Plume of Prometheus move (you know the one), with each button press representing a part of it. Most of the weapons from the God of War series are present, and the same goes for all of the other characters – the unique movesets are a triumph.
We’re not forgetting about the online mode, either. There are two options to choose from: ranked matches or quick matches, the former of which will upgrade your score on the leaderboard, which resets at the start of every Season, with only the option for timed free-for-alls, whereas the latter has various different modes and options. It isn’t the deepest of systems, but you’ll still rank up your characters in online matches and it’s very fun to play against other players. It holds up well, too – there isn’t any noticeable lag, which is very important for a fighting game such as this.
PS All-Stars manages to bring all of the art-styles from the various games over, too; Fat Princess is cel-shaded, but Radec from Killzone is gritty and realistic, and Parappa is even almost two-dimensional. It manages to have a colourful and fun art-style of its own while staying true to the style of each series it borrows from.
The music, too, is all about the games featured in the roster, with brilliant remixes and mash-ups really bringing the game together, along with some brand new PlayStation All-Stars music which fits the game wonderfully.
Ultimately, it’s an absolute blast to play; SuperBot has managed to get the correct balance with all of the characters to make the game truly fun. While it takes some time to get the hang of it all, and even longer before you know which character you’ll like the most, it’s a game that anyone can jump into and play, yet still a game that can be truly mastered.
To put it simply, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is exactly what a mash-up should be – not single game environments, not stories that only include the character of one specific game, but a fusion – a celebration even – of the brilliant PlayStation games that we all know and love.
It’s a complete package with a few flaws, but ultimately a brilliant purchase for both PlayStation and fighting fans. Get some friends around – or play with them online – and have an absolute blast with SuperBot’s brilliant debut.
A pre-release TEST version of the game was provided by the publisher for review. It was marked ‘review’ and considered final code. A final, retail version of the Vita version (via download code) was also provided for review by the publisher.
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