PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale… That’s a mouthful for anyone. But what’s in a name? When looking back on the press releases and the hype for the game called “Title Fight,” I was legitimately excited. Perhaps people frowned upon SuperBot Entertainments’ take on arena fighting since, on the surface, it looked very similar Super Smash Bro. But! that well known saying “never judge a book by its cover” is very much in play here. I pleased to report that while the game is neither dazzling nor breathtaking, it accomplishes the very core of what a game tries to be: fun.
Now… I shouldn’t say that its aesthetics are the only thing that are reminiscent on Super Smash Bros, because the obvious used of 1st party character mixed in fight for greatness is pretty clear from the get go. To say that Sony didn’t look at Nintendo lauded fighter and think, “Hmm… We could do that…” would be rather silly.I promise you though, despite what it looks like on the surface, the game is its own beast. In fact, if it reminds me of any fighting game, its Marvel vs. Capcom. First, the story/single player mode is very similar to that of Marvel vs Capcom 3. The player chooses a character, is set on a mysterious mission due to a change in the balance of “the force,” and says it is his duty to save the world. On the way he battles other characters that are probably attempting to do the same thing; do this a few more times; meet your rival; reach the final boss…. And voilà! You have just completed the entire story mode.
In all seriousness, I didn’t expect them to thrown in a deep story mode system akin to SSB Brawl (Subspace Emissary) or Netherrealm’s Mortal Kombat, right off the first attempt. I am however disappointed in the lack of apparent care for the single player mode. It is not a necessary feature, nor should it be the most advertised feature because the game is best played with multiple people, but when playing the game on the Vita with no Wi-Fi spot available – or anyone who lives in the stone age without internet for their PS3- I found myself rather tired of the lackluster single player options, mainly the story. The only mode available was the tedious, yet robust training mode for all the characters. Again, this is akin to MvC3, which also features a large challenge mode. The problem is both are just small efforts to teach you the basics of stringing combos together. After that, its not asking for you go beyond what is offered.
That being said, the real bulk of the game comes from multiplayer. And in this regard, the game delivers in spades. Thanks to the diverse and unique set of characters on the roster with incredibly unique move sets, no one character is completely overpowered – Kratos notwithstanding. Most of you probably know about the hook to this game; I am talking about those crazy supers. I wouldn’t blame you for looking past because of its mundane approach to winning. However, once you really sit down play a few rounds and get a feel for what Superbot was trying to do, you might starting saying things like, “Hey…This is actually fun!” Further more, this system of supers reminds me more and more of Marvel vs Capcom, the difference being that you can win with normal attacks in MvC, while in PSASBR, you cannot.
Now, is everyone’s super balanced? No, not at all, in fact, you may ever use some of the characters’ level 3 Super, but in a pinch (or if you were spaced out), the level 3 Super can provide those quick extra points needed at the tail end of a match. But! This is only if your skilled enough to actually accumulate enough energy to pull off the move.
As I said before, the roster was very unique in its play style, and I find that everyone tends to find there main character, not because its their favorite, but because it suits his or her style of play. In addition, every character is fully customizable in some small way, but all of these customizations must be unlocked by using the characters. These include portrait poses, end themes, outfits, ect. It is a nice touch and can extend the game’s life. I fancy myself a Sly user, and I am sure our resident news editor, George, will tell you he hates it when I use him. George himself is keen on using Evil Cole. The only complaint I personally could find with some of the characters is lack of sheer lack some important ones. Some people wanted a few Square Enix characters, others wanted Crash Bandicoot; its not a huge let down for me after having played the game, but without some staple characters of that magnitude, it can easily be seen as a let down for some. I do want to mention that I am not disappointed by the amount of characters in the roster, twenty seems like the perfect number to start with and with more DLC on the way, a large roster will become a reality. Oh, did I mention the DLC is free the first two weeks they’re released?
However, of all the things Superbot did right, one shined brightest. The level design in this game is fantastic. I never imagined the idea of combining two games into one level would be so interesting, but the levels really do steal the show with how dynamic they are. For example, my first time playing the Loco Roco level was met with absolutely glee when a Metal Gear broke through the background and started causing havoc. The environmental damage in some games is also exceptional. In one instance, you have to answer trivia from Buzz (Sony’s token trivia game) amidst battle by stepping on a platform highlighted platforms with what you think is the correct answer. Get it right, and your safe. Get it wrong, pie to the face. You can imagine the amount of people fighting to stay on that platform.
Now, while the game is brilliant in its approach level design, and ultimately fun fighting mechanic, it misses the mark in some points. The menu designs in the game are downright boring. The do nothing, but get you from point A to point B and really have not heart in terms of design. It is not a huge qualm, but it is still very noticeable. Then there is the issue of music, which can be contentious. I personally thought the opening theme was okay, but not great. It certainly does not evoke that sense of excitement I get when popping in the disk to BlazBlue. Hell, maybe some of you take this for granted, but I challenge you to find someone that know Super Smash Bros. theme at this point. The soundtrack to the game was overall good, and the sound editing for attacks was better. However, it certainly didn’t strike me as a highlight of the game.
Before I close up, I do want to mention the Vita version, because a lot of skeptics had said it would really “fit” with a system. Well, actually the game runs extremely well on the Vita, and I have yet to encounter anything on there that makes it inferior to the PS3 version. In fact, due to the fact the Vita is potable, this version may have a one up on the console version. All in all though, the game runs almost equally on both systems, so if you have a Vita and no PS3; don’t worry, its just as good.
PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale is game with enormous potential as a franchise, one that may contend with other fighters in the long run. I say it may because its just not quite there yet with other top tier fighters. The game is absolutely fun, and purchasing it will give you hours of playtime if you invest in the online modes (and go for the trophies). With friends locally and online, the game is frankly one of the most fun you’ll have all year. However, some polish and thought may be needed before going that next step. Sony has got something in their hands here, and I like it!
But don’t just hear my thoughts, here is what fellow editors thought about Battle Royale:
George Sinclair, Local Brit and News Editor:
The game is very cleverly designed and I don’t just mean how you build up your supers. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses and all have aspects that make you want to play as them. Some of them are surprising as well and by that I mean that some don’t look powerful but instead are arse kickers. I’m looking at you Parappa.
However, there do exist some balancing issues, mainly with Kratos. As I said with strengths and weaknesses in every character, Kratos has none. Whilst Evil Cole might be good at mid to short range, he’s not very good at long range. Kratos is stupidly powerful at both and it’s frustrating to be in game surrounded by three Kratos’.
The supers idea is great. You’re forced to think tactically when playing the game. Most level 1 supers aren’t really that good and all level 1′s can be interrupted so it’s worth taking the risk to build a level 2 as you have a better chance to take out more than one enemy.There’s a good level of customization to characters and you feel rewarded when you level grind. The practise mode feels a bit flat as enemies won’t attack you so it’s worth playing against one or more CPU characters to really practise. That said, if you want to figure out moves, go for the practice mode.
All-Stars is by no measure a Smash Bros. clone and when you play it, that’s immediately clear.
I personally wish there were more characters and more incentive to keep playing, the arcade stories are very basic. Though watching Cole and Fat Princess interact is great, these are few and far between in terms of cool scenes, I am hoping this can be improved on in future titles.
That is where All-Stars sits with me, it is a good, possibly great game but it feels like this first attempt puts the franchise in the right direction. I think future installments will allow for more characters, improved story modes and giving us more reason to keep playing such as unlocks.
If you enjoy the PlayStation brand, brawlers or want a different take on the Super Smash brand of fighting game, All-Stars is a must. The feeling of clearing the screen with a level one super, never gets old.
**For the sake of this game, consider the “Story” rating a “Single Player” rating. Also, the final score is never an average. **
Jaime, aka. Paco, had a blast playing Battle Royale, flaws and everything. If you want to challenge him at a bout, comment below and we start something. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled on Analog Addiction for best source of gaming news. You can follow Paco on Twitter.