Playstation All Stars Battle Royale Review

psasbr

Playstation All Stars sees Sony maiden voyage into the crossover brawler sub-genre that has previously seen very little competition. Occupied almost exclusively by Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers, Sony hope to make a smash of their own, with heroes featuring from their own intellectual property. 

From the get go it’s very clear where Playstation All Stars’ inspiration lies. The two dimensional  4 player stages bare an obvious resemblance to those of Super Smash Bros, and the likeness doesn’t just end with the aesthetic and presentation. Mechanics such as the games blocking, rolling and pickup systems are very similar to Nintendo’s offering. Fortunately the similarities are largely outweighed by the steps Sony and Superbot have taken to make PSA a very unique experience.

As with Brawl, the game features a singleplayer arcade-like mode, where you battle across various stages to defeat a final boss. It’s a pretty simple affair and each characters story is generally very generic, although very playable if you don’t have any friends to play with online or locally at the time. It’s a little disappointing that the character stories and associated cutscenes feel so lackluster, but it’s a decent offering and an opportunity for you to dry-run each character before taking the experience online or against friends locally. Plus you’re able to rank up and unlock new outfits and icons through solitary play too.


PlayStation-All-Stars-Battle-Royale-Confirmed-Video-and-Screenshots-Available-6

Battle Royale differentiates itself by being much more of a traditional fighting game than Nintendo’s counterpart. It has its emphasis placed much more on combination moves and the technicality of player input than Brawl, which, generally speaking, places a larger focus on spacing and zoning. This adds something of a sense of satisfaction when you pull off the correct sequence of moves, with the appropriate timing. It varies from character to character though, some are combo intensive, and others less so.

The game features a very diverse roster and attempts to accommodate their playstyles relative to the mechanics they originated from. For instance, Dante is very combo intensive,  there’s plenty variety to his move set with the ability to cancel certain moves into others. Sly cooper on the other hand can’t block, going invisible instead when you press the L1 button. With Sly you’ll find yourself trying to sneak up on foes for back attacks much more than you’ll be looking for a head on confrontation. 

The games character diversity is perhaps it’s largest failing; however, bringing about some unfortunate problems, regarding balance in particular. It’s generally true that the more aggressive characters in this game are the more successful, characters like Dante, Raiden and Kratos have obvious advantages in building meter and subsequently acquiring kills. It’s not to say that other characters like Sly and Cole MacGrath aren’t solid too, however more sluggish characters like Sweet Tooth and Sir Daniel can find it very difficult to hold their own in the fray. 

1

This problem is exacerbated by the games innovation. Battle Royale makes an effort to differentiate from Smash Bros and traditional fighters by not featuring any ‘damage’ systems whatsoever. Instead all you gain from hitting your opponents is action points, which fill your meter. You have 3 stages of meter, which can be used to unleash different levels of super moves. Your super moves are the exclusive tool you have to kill your foes. Each characters super moves are entirely unique, and each characters meter requires different amounts of AP to fill, it can be a confusing system to understand at first, especially considering how far detached it is from previous fighting game experiences, but you get used to it. The caveat of such a system is that when your only means of killing your opponent are placed upon your super moves, these moves alone largely define the quality of the character.

Characters with less effective Super moves like Sackboy or Sir Daniel become very difficult to employ correctly simply because they either cannot kill, or cannot kill as quickly as other characters. Similarly characters who have difficulty building meter, have difficulty finding success too, regardless of the quality of their super moves, because they have more trouble accessing their supers. Leaving the characters that have both solid meter-building techniques and efficient super-moves as dominant. Fortunately this is much less of an issue in stock limit matches rather than timed, but for some obscure reason timed is the games default, and as such ranked online feels somewhat redundant considering to how unbalanced it is. It should be noted that the games competition is little better either, though. Fighting games generally see fighters tiered and graded on their quality and efficiency in each matchup, even if it’s rarely quite as clear cut as it is in Battle Royale.

It’s not all doom and gloom though of course. The game is enjoyable, that’s for sure. The character super moves each have cool animations, particularly their level 3s. Even if some do feel a little cheap, serving as instant-kills, it can be argued that they’re still earned as the character did acquire considerable meter to be able to access them. In addition,  stock games are seeing many of the balance issues dissipate somewhat; in timed matches it’s easy for characters like Raiden to rack up high killcounts on weaker players, and the better players suffer as a result regardless of their individual performance, but in stock matches it matters little who kills who. The better player generally comes out on top, and the experience feels much fairer.

org_uncharted_stowaways-20120807-20-01

The characters move-sets are fun to play around with, offering 3 attack button and variations of move output depending on directional input, each character has 20+ unique moves that they can employ to gain AP, or in some cases steal AP from their enemies. And the stages are wonderfully designed mashups, each featuring two playstation franchises blended together. This creates some very obscure mixes like God of War x Patapon, but they’re all pretty good fun.

The game features a variety of options too. As well as a choice between stock and timed matches you can select teamed or solo play, alongside the expected options like the ability to enable or disable AI, and powerups. There’s even a training mode like those seen in more traditional 2D fighters where you can practice your combos, and a set of trials for each character to help you master the basics. The game makes a decent effort to make itself accessible, that’s for sure.

Aesthetically the game does a pretty good job too. Whilst you could argue that the games menus are somewhat barebones, and generic, they’re very functional. Each of the games characters is modeled very well, very true to their originals, from the games they were taken from. Similarly the stages and powerups each have their own charms, and accurately represent the visual stylings of the their respective franchises. It’s fun to see the characters of God of War and Infamous batter each-other across the 2D cell shaded environment of Loko Roco, for instance.

Ultimately though, I have to say despite the games charms it’s difficult to overlook the games issues with character balance and consider it a serious fighter. In the same sense the game doesn’t make much of an effort to compete with Smash Bros in regards to production values, singleplayer may be relatively insignificant for a largely multiplayer focused game, but Smash Bros goes much further in offering a quality experience for a solo player through collectible trophies and an adventure mode that Battle Royale lacks.

7

Battle Royale is a reasonably solid, enjoyable fighting game that simply lacks the substance to be taken seriously. It’s by no means bad, but it is not as thorough an offering as Smash Bros, and it’s not as balanced or mechanically sound as most other traditional fighters. I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of Playstation games, or Smash Bros and looking to try something new, but don’t expect to be blown away. 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Reviews

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: