It’s nice to see that Sony are finally putting out a brawler akin to the timeless Nintendo classic Super Smash Bros. Let’s just get this out of the way straight away; despite what the developers say, you simply cannot talk about Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale without making that comparison. All-Stars has borrowed multiple ideas from its Nintendo counter part and stitched it altogether with Sony string.
Despite some initial concerns about originality I personally think the results look fantastic. It’s great to be able to play as so many legendary characters like Nathan Drake, the Big Daddy, Ratchet & Clank, Parappa the Rappa, Kratos and… errr… Nariko from Heavenly Sword? All joking aside, the character roster is the game’s main selling point, it’s a little unbalanced but they glue the whole thing together and will be the only thing keeping you coming back for another round.
The controls are simple enough, you basically have three attack types, light, heavy and unique with variations on these moves when you’re in the air or moving. Whichever character you pick the goal is always the same: beat the living hell out of each other until you’ve filled your power meter enough to do one of three special moves. The special moves have three levels of power and you’d be very lucky not to get killed by any of them, they’re cheap, unfulfilling and incredibly annoying, especially if you happen to be a slow moving character lacking enough finesse to dodge out of the way. Taking out enemies with your special moves is the only way you can score points, since you can’t knock people out of the ring or kill characters with anything else, rounds are decided based on whoever uses their special moves most effectively and gets the best kill death ratio.
Cheap kills aside, the fighting is still fun, if a little awkward due to the clunky controls, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell whats actually happening on screen. The combat is only just redeemed by All-Stars stages, which again, have borrowed multiple elements from Smash Bros but they’ve got their own PlayStation style. They’re a mishmash of popular PlayStation titles, blending together two universes into one battleground. For example the popular quiz game Buzz! has been merged with the always fun LittleBigPlanet world to create a stage where at random intervals you’ll be given quiz questions. Multiple answers will be displayed on screen and you have move the fight into the correct answers area. or have rocks thrown at you. Aesthetically the stages are great, they’re vivid and pleasing to the eye without being too graphically demanding either, since the game has to work across a portable platform too.
Speaking of the portable version, one of the best things about All-Stars is that it is one of the first retail cross buy titles – if you pick up the PlayStation 3 version at retail then you will be entitled to a download code for the PlayStation Vita version game at no extra cost. Functionally the two versions of the game are exactly the same, but if I’m choosing between the Vita version and the PS3 version, I think I’d choose the Vita. To be perfectly honest I’m not entirely sure why, but I enjoyed playing it on a portable much more despite having all the action on a 32 inch plasma a metre away from my face.
All in All, All-Stars is shaping up to be a solid fighting game that would be great at parties and much loved by Sony fans around the globe, in fact I think that’ll be the key component for getting the maximum enjoyment from it, playing together with lots of friends who all like Sony’s games. It doesn’t quite have the flare of the Nintendo game which inspired its creation but it’s a welcome addition to Playstation’s library of exclusives. More than anything else its just nice to see so many popular characters in the same game, pitted against each other.