There's an age-old lesson which talks about how you should never judge a book by its cover. It's a lesson that should be applied to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a game which on the surface it may visually remind most of the Super Smash Bros. series. It's an easy comparison to make. They're both party brawler fighting games and there aren't many who have attempted to tackle the genre aside from Nintendo. But those who look a little deeper will find a game that offers something rather different thanks to the new studio filled with fighting game experts.
From the off, it's great to see that PlayStation All-Stars has attempted to cater for a large portion of Sony's fanbase by including a good mixture of past and present franchises. There are even some characters featured from third party companies too. Despite many of them having an altered art style from their original scene, all of the characters are represented rather well -nothing seems out of place. Even when you have the new DMC Dante clashing with the cartoony Spike from Ape Escape, it just works.
Much like almost every other fighter out there, All Stars tries to fit all of these characters under one roof and try to explain it. Sadly the arcade mode that tries to do this fails in more ways than just attempting to explain everything. Every fighter gets a slideshow to open and end their journey of unexplained beatings, but that's pretty much the only story you will ever see, aside from glorified screenshots that appear before a rival match. As fun as these are, they are few and far between the overall uninspired experience. It would probably have been better to just skip the charade entirely.
Thankfully the arcade mode only spoils All-Stars if you have no internet connection or any spare controllers for multiplayer. This is where All-Stars really comes into its own. It will hook its claws into you for countless hours on ends. Ever fighter included not only feels different, but retains the way they play from their individual game. While some characters translate over better than others, you may be surprised how deep characters can get. Characters such as with Raiden, who makes fantastic use of the right analogue stick to slice and dice his enemies, just like in Metal Gear Rising.
To make things accessible, you can just pick any character, mash buttons, get a few kills and still have fun. However, those who're looking for a deeper experience will be please to know that learning the ins and outs of a certain fighter can turn All-Stars from a party game into a fighting game. Still the basic controls won't be making anyone scratch their head after a quick tutorial. The biggest change All Stars makes is how you defeat your opponent.You could spend hours beating your opponents to a pulp with basic attacks, but the only way to take them out of the match is by performing super moves. Supers can only be used after charging a meter from attacks on your opponents. There are three levels of supers to use, with each super having a different effect. Some will be more difficult to execute than others, and how you use them to your advantage is what makes the gameplay fun.
As far as modes go you have a standard set of options, but nothing you haven't seen before. Instead of stock matches being the norm, All-Stars works best in three minute timed matches. Like this, nobody is exactly sure who is in the lead (by default) and this ensures that everyone is always trying to get as many kills as possible. If you find yourself in overtime or triple over time, things go completely mental until one winner is left on top. Team battles also offer a nice change of pace from the normal death matches most games turn into.
Along with the varied roster, the stage design is even more impressive. Each stage mixes two different franchises together. It then slowly evolves into a very different stage by the end of the match. There is not a single stage that ceases to amaze and it is nice to never have a stage that isn't fun to play. Still for all of the purist out there, there is an option to turn off items and stage hazards in all matches.
For a brand new series, All-Stars takes risks in all the right places, but still feels lacking in certain areas. While the stages, character, and music is superb in every way, the menus feel very lacking. Much like the presentation (or lack thereof ) in arcade mode, the menus just feel very bland in a game that has more than enough style to go around in the gameplay. Still this is only a slight issue in a game that gets it right where it matters most, playing the game.
Whether you like playing online or with friends, the experience feels the same with no noticeable lag at all. And that's great considering every PS3 copy of the game comes with a PS Vita copy, as it's a game that supports cross play. Any progress made at home can be continued on the go and vice versa. Multiplayer between both versions is also noticeable in quality and connection compared to each other. No matter how you want to play, each version offers a great fighting game experience with a lot to offer.
When it comes down to it PlayStation All-Stars is a game that succeeds in showcasing the rich history of the PlayStation Brand. It features a strong roster, has solid gameplay, and very dynamic stages. Sony took a risk with this game and succeeded twice by not only introducing a new way to play party fighting games, but by making a handheld version that matches its console version perfectly. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, as the story is rather pitiful and there are some presentation issues, but considering the amount of love and attention put into every character and stage, there's enough here that will make any fan of the PlayStation brand proud to pick this game up.
|Selection of characters.|
|Slow arcade mode.|
|Bland, uninspired menus|
|No Crash or Spyro|