PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal is a bit of a tricky beast.
Shortly after its release Superbot Entertainment, the developer who worked with Santa Monica Studio, split ways leaving a big question as to whether the game would be supported post release. Santa Monica Studio is now in charge of All-Stars and has vowed to support it to their fullest post release with DLC and patches.
The game has had its ups and downs but before we get into those let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Is this a clone of Super Smash Bros? No… well, not exactly, like I said, it’s tricky. It has enough of a difference to set itself apart from Super Smash Bros without feeling like a blatant rip off. The differences don’t make All-Stars better but it doesn’t really make it worse. This game has a lot of potential but it needs to be executed better.
Let’s start with what the game does right. The choice in characters from all over the PlayStation universe is great. With options like Nathan Drake, Sweet Tooth, Big Daddy, Ratchet and Clank, Sly cooper and my personal favorite Parappa the Rapper, you know this game isn’t short on big names. That’s just a small sample of the characters the game has to offer with more coming via DLC.
Each of the characters in All-Stars have their own reasons for battling it out with the rest of the games’ cast. Once you start the story mode and chose your character their reasons will become apparent. The stories for each of these characters are great and should definitely be watched. Eventually you will meet your character’s rival. Finding out the rival is one of my favorite parts of the story mode. Most of the rivalries are hilarious as are the interactions between each character.
The main way PSABR set its self apart from Super Smash Bros is in the combat. For every Attack or combo you land you earn orbs that go toward filling up your special meter. Each character has 3 different specials (except for Emmett Graves who has 3 different level 1 specials depending on the weapon he has) of varying strengths depending on how many time you fill up your special bar. To score points you need to use your specials to kill off your opponents.
Some require you to be right next to your intended victim while some let you move around or shoot at your opponents to kill them. Some Characters like Parappa have screen clearing supers that wipe out anyone alive on the screen. All of the characters use their own signature weapons and equipment like Drake’s AK47 or Parappa the Rappers skateboard. There are even items that you can pick up that have different effects like doing damage, stealing your orbs, stop you from using your special or even killing you. All of the items are pulled straight from their respective games like the Hedgehog grenade from resistance or the laser rifle from the Killzone franchise.
The level design in PSABR is great! With all of these iconic PlayStation characters coming together, why shouldn’t the places they fight come together too? Each stage combines 2 areas from separate games that come together to make some interesting levels like the Dreamscape stage that combines Little Big Planet and Buzz. While you’re on this stage Buzz eventually shows up to ask you a question.
You’re given 4 options to choose from depending on where you’re standing on the stage. Answering wrong or not answering gets you hit with a pie and you loss some of your orbs. Combinations like this create lots of stages with different hazards that really set All-Stars apart from its competition.
Along with the Playstation 3 version of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royal there is also a PS Vita version. The Vita version looks plays and feels just like its big brother on the PS3 just on a smaller screen. All-Stars is one of the few games to take advantage of cross save, where you can play on your PS3, save the game to the cloud and load up the same save on your Vita to continue your game on the go, and then send it right back to your PS3 when you’re done.
Players on the PS3 can even fight players on the PS vita and vice versa. Any DLC you buy is also transferable over to the vita version so that you’re never missing out on any characters, levels or costumes for your favorite fighter.
There are a ton of unlockables in All-Stars. Leveling up each character unlocks different intros, outros, costumes and sayings for your selected character. This all adds up to a lot of ways to customize your character. Along with the character unlockables you also get a player card you can customize that is used online to show your name and belt rank–your online skill level. Cards can be customized with a background, picture and nickname to distinguish yourself online.
So what could possibly be wrong with a game that has all of these great features? Well for one, there are some balancing issues. Some characters’ moves give too many orbs while other moves are just plain too hard to avoid. Kratos from God of War and Raiden from the Metal Gear Solid series are perfect examples. Kratos can turn on a dime to attack in any direction with his chaos blades something most other characters can’t do. On top of that his Chaos Blades have good reach–meaning he can hit people all day and rack up some serious orbs fast, leading to a level 3 super that lasts just a little too long.
Raiden on the other hand is manageable until he gets you in a combo earning him a level 1 super where he spins on his hands and uses the knives on his feet to kill his enemies. The problem is, it has a good range for a level 1 attack, taking out anyone within 2 characters worth of space on either side or anyone landing in it. Compare that to Parappa’s level 1 super where he does a flip kick that has to basically be touching someone unless they are diagonal from you and you can see that some of the characters are overpowered compared to others.
Another problem is that the online can be great or terrible. If everyone has a good connection the online play is really fun but if just one person has a bad connection it can create some serious disadvantages. For one, players will disappear and reappear or completely freeze with a bad connection. Sometimes you will be killed and it take’s 30 or 40 seconds to respawn if you respawn at all. The Worst thing by far however is that the game uses one of the 4 players as a “host” for the game.
In games like Call of duty where you have 12 or 16 people playing at the same time this isn’t that bad of a thing. Sure dedicated servers would be nice but it’s not necessary because the game has so many more people to choose from to be a host. In All-Stars if the “host” quits or lags out, everyone is bounced from the game. Wining… losing, doesn’t matter since you’re going back to the menu screen. With the way people quit games nowadays this is something that should have never happened.
Since the launch of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale there have been a few updates that help balance the game and help with the stability of the online and even add in new items. There have been 2 sets of DLC released that include Kat from Gravity Rush; Emmett Graves from the Starhawk; and the level Fearless in the first DLC release.
The Second DLC release had Zeus from the God of War series; Isaac Clark from the Dead Space series; and the level The Graveyard. While the DLC and updates have helped a lot they still haven’t got the balancing perfect and disconnects and quitters still happen.
When Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is working properly, it’s a great game with an amazing cast of characters. When it’s not working so well, it can be anywhere from tolerable to I want to throw whatever is in my hand–which could be costly if you’re playing on your Vita. The game has a lot of potential and while it might not be the great game we were all hoping for, it has laid down the ground work for what could be a great franchise for the PlayStation brand.