Lets not beat about the bush here, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is Super Smash Bros, just instead of a Nintendo line-up, it’s all about Sony’s heroes. Those smart enough to subscribe to PS+ have now been given access to the game’s Beta. This gives players the option to play online, with or without local co-op, and allows you to sample six of the All-Stars and a couple of arenas.
If you have played Super Smash Bros, or seen any of the All-Star gameplay videos, then you will know what this game is all about. You take four All-Stars, throw them together in a Sony-themed arena and let them duke it out. Each character has three attack buttons, and depending on which way you are holding the left stick, each will perform a different action. For example, hold up on the left stick while pressing one of the buttons will cause your hero to perform an uppercut style of attack.
You can also jump and perform attack moves as well, along with using the right stick to perform throws. It means that this really does feel like a brawl, as there are over 15 attack actions for each All-Star. It also means that any novice can pick this game up and have a blast, but those who wish to master the game will find enough depth to make this a keeper. The Beta does have a tutorial section, to let you get to grips with the combat.
There are also special moves for all of the All-Stars. As you perform attacks you fill up a bar at the bottom of the screen. There are three tiers of special moves, you can activate tier one once you have filled the bar once (R2), which unleashes a mild special move. Or, you can save it until you fill the meter up a second or third time to even more powerful moves. If you save up to unlock the third tier, you will be greeted with a cut scene which shows your All-Star powering up.
Then it really is clobbering time. So, if you level up Kratos to third tier and then activate the special move, Kratos grows to his ‘God of War’ giant size and then proceeds to lay waste to anyone in his path. After a set period of time, the battle ends and the winning team is revealed. I can only guess that the scoring is done behind the scenes, as there are no visual indicators during the game that show you which team is winning.
The six characters available at the moment are Parappa The Rapper, Sly Cooper, Sweet Tooth, Kratos, Fat Princess and Radec. However, it very much seems that Kratos is incredibly over powered. Most of his moves are fast and have good range, and I guess out of all of the Beta All-Stars, he is the one that is most suited to melee combat. This means that nearly everyone online is using him. Quite a few of the matches I played ended up having both of the opponents on the other team using Kratos. If either myself or my co-op partner picked Kratos as well, there would be three of them on screen. That can then become rather difficult. Still, each All-Star has the player’s PSN ID below them, so that does help a little to clear up any confusion.
The Arenas also make things interesting. Each level is designed around different Playstation games and will change during the course of the battle. One of the levels in the Beta is the God of War Stage. This starts with Hades in the background, causing havoc to the players by either destroying parts of the arena, or by slinging his Chains of Death at them. However, after a little time the stage starts to change and introduces other PS stars. It really is funny when, after Hades has been throwing his weight around, the Patapon guys start to invade the stage and you can hear the familiar “Pata Pata Pon” sounds.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, this game is a Super Smash Bros clone. But don’t take that as a bad thing, those games were popular for a reason. With the stars that Sony have in their stable and the arena design, this game could well become just as popular. The combat is fast and fun, and by allowing both online and co-op mixed action, this game will be great for playing when you have friends ’round, because it doesn’t matter if you have never played before. But as usual with Sony, this game could live or die by how they choose to market it. Coming out in an already busy period of the year, Sony would do well by making this game their “must have” this Winter.