It looks like Super Smash Bros. It plays like Super Smash Bros, but PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a distinctly Sony product. It’s the convergence PlayStation fans have been crying out for, and combines with The Last of Us to give the PS3 a formidable line-up of exclusives as 2012 wears on.
I played several matches as Kratos, Fat Princess and Sly Cooper. Each character was noticeably different during the three minute timed matches that employed a simple kill/death ratio to determine the winner. Most of the time, that glory went to the developer playing with us. Curse him and his practice!
The face buttons are used to instigate jump and three attacks: light, heavy and unique. As in Nintendo’s alternative, performing each while directing the analogue stick or when airborne causes a slight, but crucial, variation.
Kills are where PlayStation All-Stars differentiates itself from Nintendo’s brawler, to the point that fans will need to relearn how to play. There’s no damage as we know it. Instead, taking hits will reduce your “super” bar, while dishing them out will increase it.
Strategies are irrefutably lessoned by the reliance on super mode, as it was really just a race to power-up.
The Super mode has three tiers, each considerably more powerful than the last. Opponents can only be killed using a special attack in super mode, making leveling up your power bar all the more important.
It makes the culmination of the experience considerably different to Smash Bros, but only time will tell if its popular amongst fans. It’s different, so there will be inevitable backlash initially, but with time it could find its own niche in the overpopulated fighting genre.
During this early demo, however, it felt overpowered. Strategies are irrefutably lessoned by the reliance on super mode, as it was really just a race to power-up. However, this could be because we were all relatively new to the experience. With practice, defense could because as important as offense; conserving your super bar is just as important as increasing it.
The dependence on super attacks reduces the importance of environmental hazards and items. These are tactical in SSB, but mean little in All-Stars where the final kill must be determined by another player in super mode.
The Vita version was a mixed bag. It looks fantastic, and the connection between it and the PS3 version is amazing (although only half the characters were available in this setup). Despite its impressive performance, I’m not entirely sure why anyone would play on Vita, unless it is packaged with the PS3 version. We essentially used the Vita as a PS3 controller, making its screen redundant with the much superior TV screen mere centimeters away.
Of course, it can also played online in a different room where the PS Vita screen becomes relevant again, but I’m still not sure why anyone would buy the handheld version over its bigger brother where the choice presents itself. Seeing how it’s the same game, I’d love to see a Vita download code included with the PS3 copy at no extra cost. That would kick-start crossplay between the two platforms; we can always dream.
I’m not sold on the super attacks kill/death system, but otherwise PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is onto a winner. I’m intrigued to see the full roster, as Sony doesn’t have anywhere near the diversity of Nintendo in its lineup, but with massive third party exclusives like Big Daddy, it could be a worthy clone of the industry leader.
By Ben Salter - Bio