We get hunted down by a group of people, who don’t seem to fire much at us. Weird ...
For years gamers have always pondered with the idea of Sony attempting something like Super Smash Bros. There’s more than enough first-party titles or classic unofficial PlayStation mascots to draw up an impressive roster, but could they make a game that’s as fun as the chaos of Super Smash Bros without totally ripping it off? Well, now they’ve gone and given it a go thanks to SuperBot Entertainment’s efforts with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. And, although you may think it’s a Super Smash Bros. rip-off, it’s unique gameplay sets it apart from Nintendo’s brawler and places it in a league of its own.
At first glance it’s hard not to draw comparisons with Nintendo’s fighter, after all it looks very similar. The premise sees four players battling it out as key characters from unique IPs on a number of game inspired stages. Dishing out more damage to an opponent makes it easier for them to be knocked out of the stage, gaining you a point in the process. The person with the most points at the end wins. The similarities with Super Smash Bros. end there though as PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale brings depth to the proceedings with Super Moves and an interesting moveset.
Super Moves are your way of taking an opponent out of the running. With these three-tiered power-moves you can knock an opponent out with ease. Gaining AP from punching, kicking and throwing opponents unlocks your Super Move attacks and with the tap of a shoulder button you unleash an attack – with the third, and strongest, level filling the screen with a Street Fighter IV style Ultra Move animation. This may not sound like the most fun in the world, what with there only being one sure-fire way to eliminate an opponent, but it’s a surprisingly fantastic way to play and diferentiates it from Super Smash Bros. even more.
While I’m trying to avoid continually mentioning Super Smash Bros., it’s hard to not see the lines of similarity when it comes to the rather impressive roster that All-Stars contains. It’s got everyone you’d expect to have, bar a few key PS One era mascots, and more that you genuinely don’t expect to be there. The moody Kratos is present and correct, along with the sarcastic and witty Nathan Drake and both sides of the troubled Cole McGrath. Sackboy, Fat Princess, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper and Jak & Daxter also star. There’s even some third-party characters such as Dante, Raiden and a Big Daddy for those who are unfamiliar with Sony’s range of mascots. Sadly a few fan favourites are missing, namely Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, but there’s hope as more characters are coming by way of DLC.
Each stage is also based off a famous franchise, but instead of being complacent with a world of Prapper the Rapper, SuperBot decided to mix elements from two franchises together to create stages with inventive hazards. Franzea brings a mix of Loco Roco with a huge Metal Gear Ray attacking from the background; Sandover Village takes Hot Shots Golf and throws in some Jax and Daxter for good measure; and Dreamscape sees Little Big Planet hold hands with Buzz. While these may sound rather odd, the match-ups work well and provide some entertaining fights as you dodge attacks from your foes and the environment.
There’s also a lot more bite in All-Stars than you initially may expect. Whatever game mode you play, you can rank up your characters and thus unlock new costumes, tuants, intros and outros, as well as emblems and titles for use online. It’s a nice feature that allows you to alter and customise your character as you see fit, allowing them to stand out from the crowd when playing others – although there’s always going to be the issue of everyone online just using alternate skins because they unlocked them.
There’s also a fair few modes for you to chew your way through too. A classic Arcade mode is present, with three difficulties to take on, that takes you on a story-driven brawl through various PlayStation themed worlds. They may not be the most detailed stories around, but it’s still pretty cool to see each character’s journey to collect an etherial power. Just like in the big fighting franchises of SoulCalibur and Street Fighter – to name a few – you also have rivals you must face off against. Some rivalries make reasonable sense, such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, but others raise eyebrows, Evil Cole and Fat Princess anyone?
It doesn’t take too long to complete a play through of Arcade, around 20-30 minutes should see you through fine. But while it seems short, even with it’s roster of 20 characters and three difficulty modes, there’s plenty to do away from Arcade. You could choose to rank up against AI opponents, you could test yourself online against others too. There’s also an incredible amount of character specific challenges and general challenges to complete to – each one will test your prowess as a fighter to the limit.
Online lets you dive into ranked matches so you can climb your way up the leaderboards if you desire, and thanks to Cross Play, PS3 owners can square off against Vita opponents. This method also allows you to play same-room multiplayer while one person uses a PS Vita screen to fight. There are also custom game options that alter play from being a time based affair and turn it into a a stock match instead – which really raises the tension as you scramble around hoping not to get knocked out on your last life.
For the PlayStation fan who’s always wanted a Super Smash Bros. style game to call their own, well now one is finally available for you. It’s not a carbon copy, which is clearly a good thing, and the changes that SuperBot has made to the formula ensures that it can stand on its own legs well. There’s plenty of replay value here too, but that gaping hole left by the absence of some of Sony’s classic franchies is hard to ignore.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Looks great with fantastic looking stages and characters. Menus could do with some work mind.
Gameplay – 5/5: Fast, frantic, and great fun.
Innovation – 4/5: Much more than a Super Smash Bros. rip-off, All-Stars brings its own unique style and deserves a lot of praise.
Value – 4/5: Plenty to do with 20 characters, DLC, online play and challenges.
Final Score: 4.5/5