After playing a lot of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale at E3, I could not wait to play more of it at PAX. Thankfully I got to play the game some more and this time with the full roster.
The game naturally receives comparisons to Smash Bros and that should be taken as a high complement. There is a main difference in that there is no health system. Kills can only be scored by using one of your character’s super moves. This creates an atmosphere that encourages players to keep fighting rather than run away because of low health.
This build of the game had all 20 of characters in the game (there could still be secret ones I suppose) and I immediately went to try and some of the new ones like Dante and Raiden. It should be noted that these characters, and Heihachi, all play in a combo based way that is pretty different form the usual way of just doing one attack and then a separate one. These guys can knock others into the air and juggle them around with relative ease. There are several characters that play close to this as well (Kratos, Nariko, etc) but the rest seem to follow more closely to the Smash formula; meaning that each move is separate and doesn’t combo into another one and is usually more visually varied. For example, most of Heihachi’s moves are physical punches and kicks. Nathan Drake’s move set has him setting up barricades, shooting a pistol, throwing a grenade, and more. The move sets lend themselves to different play styles. In fact, there are many differences between most of the characters, similar to how Smash does it except Smash doesn’t have anyone who plays like or can do quite what Raiden can.
But enough of this almost pointless comparison, the game is a blast to play. I think it needs a bit more balancing but the formula here is almost as fun as it could possibly be. Part of the enjoyment comes from the characters themselves. I’m not a huge Sony fanboy but seeing Sackboy slap around Parappa is awesome.
If you like Smash at all, this game has a lot to offer you. They still need to show us alternate modes and single player but the base gameplay here is great. Having three dedicated attack buttons rather than the 2 in Smash means there are a lot more attacks to pull off here. However, there can be a lot of guesswork as to if a character’s up X is actually going to attack up and that is very strange and something I don’t remember ever happening in Smash. A lot of the moves seem this way but it could just be the unfamiliarity.
Some characters clearly felt better suited than others but this could change once you learn a character’s move set more. And learning all these characters’ moves and play styles is what is very exciting about this game.
Picking up items is nowhere near as quick as it is in Smash as there are several frames of animation where you can get hit and end up not picking up the item. Also, I tried to throw an item down at someone and it didn’t work. Maybe I did it wrong somehow but if you can’t throw items in all directions then I will be disappointed.
An interesting note is that I couldn’t ever activate a super while in the air, so there is a bit of strategy involved there.
The levels are all a nice mash up of two different game worlds and offer many traps to overcome. They feel much livelier than Smash levels and interact with players a lot more too. The stages are also beautiful and blend games well.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is easily one of my most anticipated titles this holiday season if only for the ability to play a Smash-like game in 1080p and online. The added bonus is that the diverse bunch of characters beating up each other is great to see and a blast to play. People may still view it as just a clone but try and hold judgment until you play it.
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