PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale
I have a dirty little secret to confess. You see, I had been in a happy relationship with Super Smash Bros.for ten years. It was love at first sight, back in 1999 when she first arrived in her Nintendo 64 form. Then, she got even sexier with Super Smash Bros. Melee. I couldn't put her down. Things were simply amazing. I was ecstactic to come home to her everyday and just get right down to business. Then, she became Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. At first she was wonderful...but then things became stagnant. She had all these little annoyances, and while I still loved her, we had definitely reached the peak of our relationship with Melee. That's when....the other one came along. PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. Internally, I was very curious. Then I became excited when it was announced my favorite PlayStation characters would be playable characters. But I tried to remain cool in front of Smash Bros., insisting that no one woud ever replace her and that me and PlayStation All-Stars were merely "testing the waters". However, it's become more serious between us than I had hoped. I've been playing All-Stars late into the night behind Super Smash Bros's back, even thinking about her more than Super Smash Bros. I've recently gone back to SSBB and while it is still fun...things just haven't been the same. I am a cheater.
So that little story with the metaphors above is the best way to describe my thoughts on PSA: BR compared to SSBB (don't worry, I don't really think of video games like women). When the game was first announced and the first screenshots were leaked, there was heavy skepticism from the gaming community that it was nothing more than a shameless attempt by Sony to cash in on the success of Nintendo's platform party fighter. And by merely looking at screenshots or footage of it, it does look like such. However, once you actually get your hands on it and play it, you will find that while the spirit is the same, there is a whole different strategy that you have to implement to win due to a kill system that is totally different.
Now you can finally sette who would win in a fight between Princess Plump and Kratos.
The basic difference between this game and Super Smash Bros., is that the only way to kill your opponents and score points is by hitting them with a Super Move. That's the only way to score. You can beat up your opponent all day, and no matter how much you beat them up, they won't die unless you hit them with your Super Move. No lifebars, no ring-outs. By attacking your opponents, you build your Super Meter. To add another layer of strategy, every character has a Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Super Move, and generally speaking each Level is more powerful and effective than the last. So, you can either use your Level 1 right away as soon as you get it, or you can wait until you build up to Level 3 and do a screen-clearing move.
At first, I did not like the sound of a system like this. In fact, I was actually wishing they would have just copied Smash Bros. and made the kill system into ring-outs. But after spending an extensive amount of time with the game, I actually think this system has many merits of its own. For starters, it helps maintain the pace of the game. In Super Smash Bros., everyone tends to run away and get into "camp mode" when they are heavily damaged. Or, in Timed Matches, they will commit Suicide when they are badly injured to prevent getting knocked out and giving someone else a point. The Super Move kill system in this game eliminates such petty tactics since there's no way to commit suicide or be killed by forces besides other players, and it maintains the pace of the game because you have to be attacking your enemies to build your meter. So in short, this game definately takes more skill.
Is the game perfect? Far from it, really. It's pretty bare bones and suffers from lack of variety in its game modes. Single player options are pretty much a standard Arcade Mode where you play through each characters' story, or you can go into Practice Mode and practice combos and stuff against a dummy. But then, no one really buys fighting games for single player anymore. You may do Local Multiplayer with up to three other players at home, or of course you may square off against other players online. If you are playing local with one other person you can both go online. But basically, there is not a whole lot of varitety in games modes. Going back to Super Smash bros., there are different ways to play the game such as Coin Battle, Stamina, Giant Brawl, Mini- Brawl, etc. The only option in this game is the standard Deathmatch, and you can play it Timed, Stock, or the Kill Limit (first person/team to get 5 kills wins). While it would have been nice to see more variety in game modes, I can forgive it simply because this is the first game in a new IP; Super Smash Bros. has 3 games that span over a decade, so it's obviously had much more time to grow as a franchise.
Also something that had fans concerned was the roster. There's a reason
why some players in the community have dubbed it "Advertisement All-Stars: Battle Royale". A good portion of the roster is actually from Third Party franchises. There's Dante from Devil May Cry (the new version from the recent reboot), A Big Daddy from Bioshock, Heihachi from Tekken, and Isaac Clarke from Dead Space. And technically so is Raiden, since Metal Gear Rising was multi-platform. Many of these characters are from games that were not even out yet at the time of PlayStation All-Stars's release back in November. But aside from these inclusions, this game does feature many icons spanning PlayStation's history. There's PS1 icons such as Parappa the Rapper and Spike from Ape Escape, to PS2 stars like Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, and Sly Cooper, to the PS3 All-Stars like Nathan Drake and Cole MacGrath, and Kat from Gravity Rush representing the PS Vita.
Speaking of the PS Vita, the game proudly advertises the fact that it is cross-playable between PS3 and Vita. Not only that, but if you buy the PS3 version, you can download the Vita version for FREE. So now you can have a good platforming party fighter to play on the go! I downloaded the Vita version and it is not a watered down port in any way; it is identical to its PS3 counterpart, so you can literally take this game on the go.
The online mode is a mixed bag; On one hand, it plays very smooth with no lag. The problem is the horrible netcode; it is not uncommon to become disconnected from a match, or have people become disconnected during the match. (It especially sucks when your partner gets disconnected in a team battle.) It's such a shame because, when it does work, it plays beautifully as if you were playing offline, for the most part. It makes me glad I bought the game new, because I imagine I would be rather disappointed had I actually shelled out 10 bucks for an online pass, simply because the problem of being disconnected or having other players disconnect is way too common, and even all this time later at the time of this writing, SuperBot Entertainment has yet to remedy the netcode.
Even with all the defects considered though, the game is overall very fun to play and very addicting. If you are a Sony fan who has dreamed of a Smash Bros.-esque fighter with your favortite PlayStation characters, here it is. Its main weaknesses lie in its lack of polish in some aspects, but it is still a great game. Is it better than Smash Bros.? Some think it is, some don't. I personally love both. While I've probably been more addicted to this lately, it does not detract from Super Smash Bros. and vice versa. The accusation of it being a rip-off is debatable, as well as irrelvant, really. Even if it was, just because something is a ripoff does not mean its bad, and "rip-offs" don't bother me as long as they are done well. Perhaps the gaming community overall needs to become more open minded and learn that variety is the spice of life. Is the game worth purchasing at its current price? I would say so, especially if you have a Vita. I am not disappointed in my purchase, and I payed the full $60. In spite of its flaws it is a great addicting game and I love it as much as I do Super Smash Bros and think they are both great games. It's just that gamers tend to act like you have to pledge alleigance to one side or the other.