During most of 2012 it was impossible to turn on a radio or TV in any town without hearing Carly Rae Jespen’s viral hit known as “Call Me Maybe” (admit it, you’re humming the first few bars right now). Similarly, you couldn’t open up any news outlet that covers video games without hearing jokes about how PlayStation All;-Stars: Battle Royale is nothing more than Sony’s version of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros series. Though some purists may not able to admit it, Alls-Stars is a remarkably enjoyable game with some seriously respectable fighting DNA. If you forget about what you’re supposed to believe, you’re bound to find some serious fun here, even if you don’t want to admit it — just like you don’t want to admit that you listen to Call Me Maybe in the car with the windows rolled up.
Published by: Sony
Platform: PS3, Vita
What works: Fun multiplayer| cool art style | two games for the price of one
What doesn’t work: single player is boring | roster feels lackluster
Let’s get the elephant out of the room — PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale is, at least in theory at lot like Super Smash Bros, but perhaps its more fair to say that the game is inspired by it.Much like Smash Bros, Battle Royale gathers the brand’s most recognizable characters and has them beat the snot out of each other. The single player arcade mode does give each character a reason to enter the tournament (it is a tournament right?), but they’re so inconsequential to the grand scheme of things that you’re likely to forget them a mere few fights in. It’s also a bit disappointing that save for a few rivalry scenes (like BioShock’s Big Daddy wanting to clobber Little Big Planet’s Sack Boy because the Little Sister has chosen him as his new friend), the story mode plays via static images and voice overs. You would think that Sony would want to give these — they’re top stars a better outlet to shine.
Each battle consists of two to four players in stages based on Sony’s most famous properties. Attacks are mapped to the face buttons and altered via the directional pad and thumbsticks. Each attack nets a player All-Star points that pool into a meter that when filled allows them to perform kill moves called Super Attacks. Each player has three different Supers and become more powerful as they’re unlocked. There’s a surprising amount of depth to Battle Royale’s core fighting mechanics, and it’s fun to just experiment with different characters and see how they play, and it’s extremely rewarding to pull off your super move and take out your opponents.
As predictable and redundant as the game’s single-player experience can be, Battle Royale is a remarkably fun time when played with others. It’s a frantic and fun experience that often will have friends trash talking each other for hours to come. You’re sure to find yourself eyeing up your friend’s meter to try to strategize when they’re going to unleash your super move, and when you should do yours. Battle Royale of course features full online support — but this is a game whose heart is planted firmly in the old school same room multiplayer. It also must be mentioned that Sont through in a free download of the Vita version to all who purchase the PS3 version of the game, and players will be able to battle opponents on both platforms regardless of which they’re playing on. Classy move Sony.
One of the coolest aspects of All-Stars is how the game mixes art styles and game worlds for its stages. In Smash Bros, everything followed one basic art style (for the most part), but here, Sony takes advantage of the differences in its properties and mashes them up quite well. You may start for instance in dojo from Parapa the Rappa, but you’ll end up out on the street, dealing with characters and hazards from another game entirely. One of my favorites was the Hades stage from God of War — before long the world of Patapon interrupts, and it’s quite funny to see how annoyed he gets when he starts to smash at them, which of course plays a role in the fight itself.
One of Battle Royale’s biggest problems though is one it had almost no control over. Smash Bros was all about seeing iconic characters like Mario, Link and Metroid duke it out in epic battles, and though I’m a huge Uncharted fan, seeing Nathan Drake fight Sly Cooper or Fat Princess just doesn’t have the same effect, and few people are likely to build an emotional interest in the battles of All-Stars. You also can’t help but feel like Sony was scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel for some of the roster; Nathan Drake, Big Daddy and Raiden? Great. That little guy frm Ape Escape? Not so much. It’s also pretty questionable as to why Sony chose to make Cole and Evil Cole from Infamous separate characters instead of making it an alternate costume and including characters that are slated for DLC, like Kat from Gravity Rush.
Scoff if you must, but you’re bound to have a great time beating the hell out of your friends with PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. Yes — it’s Sony’s version of Super Smash Bros, but it’s also so much more. It’s got superb fighting DNA, and could become a surprise multiplayer darling. Drop your preconceived ideas about what All-Stars can be and you may just find yourself enjoying it.