Article written by Blair Inglis.
Published on 15/02/2013 at 09:00 AM.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale might not have sold very well and there’s probably no chance of a sequel any time soon, if at all, but, thankfully, the game is still being expanded with extra content in the form of DLC. The first batch, released this week, brings two new characters, a new stage and even some more minions to celebrate your in-game victories.
Battle Royale’s roster isn’t void of fast, close combat orientated characters like Kat or long ranged, gun slingers like Emmett, but you’ll be glad to know that each of these characters bring something new to the table. Likewise, there’re plenty of stages, but the new stage Fearless brings with it some new ideas and novelty mechanics.
Kat, the gravity-bending protagonist of the PS Vita title Gravity Rush, is the first of the new characters added to the roster. Much like Raiden and Heihachi, Kat’s moves are focused on hand-to-hand combat rather than the more ranged attacks employed by characters such as Radec and Nathan Drake.
Square – on its own or along with the push of a directional button – will allow for a range of light and fast punches and kicks. These moves can easily be used to string combos together and, coupled with the heavier attacks on the triangle button, can make Kat a force to be reckoned with.
The circle button allows for a range of special attacks, including her signature twister move and some brilliant use of gravity – allowing her to hurl objects at other players. Throws (activated with the right stick) also employ Kat’s gravity shifting, as she’s able blasts enemies across the map.
Kat’s very fast, you see. She’s no Raiden or Sly but her nimble dodges and speedy attacks prevent her from being at a disadvantage when up against foes with ranged attacks, though equally fast characters who do have guns – such as Ratchet and Jak – can prove challenging.
Supers are, of course, the cornerstone of any PlayStation All-Star and Kat’s are all quite good. Level one is a pretty standard forward dash, blowing up any foe that gets in the way. Level two is where things get interesting, as Kat rises to the sky, reigning down with bursts of spikes. Kat’s final super doesn’t immediately obliterate enemies but transforms her upper half into a panther-like creature that can cleanly sweep anyone who stands in her way.
Kat, then, is a very good character. She’s agile yet still quite powerful and up there with the best of the roster. Her cutscenes are integrated well as they’re styled as they are in Gravity Rush – that being much like a comic book with Japanese voiceovers. Her art style carries over from the game and she looks right at home on the Vita version.
Kat’s a good all-round character, whether you’re to new or experienced with Battle Royale.
Emmett Graves – the gun slinging mercenary from Starhawk – is the second new character. He’s a completely different fighter from Kat, employing close ranged knife attacks with square and what appears to be rather uninspired shooting attacks on triangle.
It’s only when you tap circle that things get really interesting with Emmett. Starhawk’s Build & Battle system is incorporated into his moveset, which means he can drop a turret, an AP emitter or even weapons dispensers onto the battlefield from above. These weapon dispensers completely change his triangle attacks – which feature an assault rifle and a pistol as default – by allowing Emmett to use either a shotgun for devastating close-range blasts or a rocket launcher for more explosive attacks.
This is a very well thought out mechanic and one that’s entirely unique to Emmett, setting him apart from other gun-focused characters and making him one of the best ranged characters; he’s up there with Radec. Things can get very hard for Emmett when he’s up against speedy characters (much like Kat) or foes with a strong melee moveset, however.
His Supers are great; there’s nothing that’s hard to get a kill with. Even his level one usually kills, firing a killing blow from the assault rifle, shotgun or rocket launcher, depending on which one is equipped when you tap R2. Level two takes Build & Battle to the next level, with an object dropping from the sky, destroying enemies within its blast range.
The third level of Super is extremely impressive, with Emmett jumping into a Hawk, granting the ability to stomp on enemies, fire lasers and floating support turrets or even take off and land an airstrike finisher.
Overall, Emmett’s one of the better ranged characters – he still isn’t anywhere near the top, but his support turrets and gun switching mechanics are quite brilliant, allowing for a versatile moveset.
There’s also a brand-new stage available, which is just as fantastic as any of the other stages included. It’s titled Fearless and is a Heavenly Sword and WipEout mash up, which is as brilliant as it is ridiculous. Each match begins atop a tall platform in a Heavenly Sword inspired environment before a WipEout track materialises in the background. Soon, a blast from a racer hits the platform and the scene changes in a spectacular way.
I won’t describe it fully so the surprises aren’t spoiled, but it’s a very well designed stage and remains mostly static aside from the WipEout racers – which you can actually be hit by – so it’s not constantly moving like Alden’s Tower.
It’s a good representation of both franchises and it’s nice to finally see some WipEout content in Battle Royale. You’ll see racers zoom by while still fighting on ancient terrain and that alone is something to be marvelled. It’s actually one of the better maps the game has to offer.
Finally, twenty new minions are available (essentially little 3D avatars to spur you on and celebrate your victories) – you’ll get two for free with the latest patch (Dr. Nefarious from Ratchet & Clank and Curtis the Panda from Carnival Island), thought the eighteen others have to be bought separately.
These come individually or in packs of six:
Minion Pack 1: Ape Escape’s Professor, Escape Plan’s Lil, God of War’s Colossus of Rhodes, Buzz from Buzz!, Fat Princess’ Ninja and Hot Shot Golf’s Suzuki.
Minion Pack 2: Mr. Grimm from Twisted Metal, Uncharted’s Elena Fisher, Lucy Kuo from InFamous, Killzone’s Rico, Sly’s Carmelita Fox and a Eucadian Soldier from Warhawk.
Minion Pack 3: Ashelin from Jak and Daxter, God of War’s Polyphemus, Toro’s Kuro, Killzone’s Visari, Fat Princess’ Pirate and Logan from Starhawk.
The first batch of DLC is available now on the PlayStation Store – Kat and Emmett are available for free for the next two weeks, though the new stage costs £1.59 to play outside of online matches and individual minions cost 40p or a minion pack of six is also £1.59 (or £3.99 for all eighteen minions). The stage, at least, is well worth the money and it’s worth grabbing the new characters for free before they’re gone – they both bring a few hours of gameplay at least.
Let’s hope there’s more DLC on the way – Kat, Emmett and the Fearless stage have shown that this is a game which thrives when new content is added.