PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale may have a needlessly long name and a ridiculous acronym, but it’s also one of the most fun fighting games out there. While the idea of a Sony-centric (with some third-party characters thrown in) Smash Bros-esque fighter isn’t the most original, at least the execution is on par with the source material, and manages to do enough things differently to help it stand out.
One of those things is the three-tiered super meter system. By either gathering AP orbs or successfully landing attacks, you can fill your meter up and unleash a super move. These are the only way to score wins, and add a lot of strategy to things since each one of the three available for each character has a different range to them. As a general rule, level 1 moves have very little range, but are faster and feel super-satisfying to land as a result, especially if you can incapacitate multiple foes with just one attack. Level 2 ones tend to have more range, but take longer and can be avoided easier if you’re quick enough. Level 3 attacks are these huge set pieces that will remind folks of giant Final Fantasy VII-style summons that pay direct homage to the games the characters come from and will basically unleash Hell upon the screen and ensure victory.
Another is the diverse attack list for each character. X jumps while the other face buttons attack with left/right, up, and down offering up different attacks both standing and mid-air. Having over a dozen attacks at your disposal really helps keep things fresh, and the roster feels different enough to not just feel like a clone. Raiden was easily the best surprise for me because he’s a character I really don’t care about all that much, but I love playing with him here since he’s the king of really fast short-range combos, which allows you to build your super bar up quickly and makes him an ideal choice for beating the game at higher difficulty levels. The controls feel very natural and the usage of the right stick to throw may seem weird in theory, but winds up becoming second nature after only a few matches.
The super-interactive stages are another highlight as they go far beyond the usual thing and throws in things from time to time. Sure, there are times when Hades will rain down pain, and then you’ll have parts of stages change around like in Power Stone 2. Just like there, you’ll need to jump up quickly or else face death and be out of the game for a few crucial seconds that enemies can use to rack up wins. The stages are full of some hilarious WTFery like Chop Chop Master Onion turning into a Godzilla-sized version of himself to do battle in PaRappa’s stage after the dojo walls fall, or the aforementioned God of War stage being invaded by a marching Patapon troupe, who also changes the music.
One of the most pleasant surprises is the inclusion of the Vita version via Cross-buy. This is a wonderful move that allows you to enjoy the game wherever you are, and use your PS3 save data on the go. All you need to do is pop the disc in, go to the ‘disc benefits’ section, hit X, which will send you to the PS Store to download the Vita version to your PS3, and then you can just transfer it to your Vita. For the space-wary consumer, the Vita version takes up 1.3 GBs of space. Everything from the console version is included, and the only thing hurt by the transition is grabbing items. It’s much harder to tap them on-screen in the heat of battle instead of just hitting R1, and I hope a patch is released that enables another way to pick up items because it’s the only major issue I have with the Vita version, and one of the few things I can really find fault with the game as a whole.
Online play is quite impressive and allows Vita users to play at the same time as PS3 users. Even through the Vita’s Wi-Fi-only setup, play is smooth and I never encountered lag. That really shocked me because I’m fairly used to at least dealing with some lag during an online fighting session, but there was none to be had here. The mode variety is a bit sparse, but I do like that tournaments are available right away as opposed to being added later on with DLC.
PSABR strikes a balance between delivering high-quality detailed graphics and not making them so detailed that it’s hard to follow what’s going on. Given the frantic pace of the action, especially with four players on-screen at once, things could become a disaster, but that never happens. There is a bit of a learning curve with larger-scale battles involving four people, but it only takes a few to get used to them. The background details are outstanding, and there are a lot of laughs to be had in them. Animation-wise, things look good and none of the animation is so elaborate that it takes too much time to execute. One of the side effects of that is having things like walls magically form behind Nathan Drake, but that’s just fine by me – it adds to the absurdity of the spectacle and it’s fun to behold.
The soundtrack is full of original techno and remixed music from the games the roster comes from. Hearing the Uncharted tunes again is always fun, but the redone versions of series songs that change around with the stages are something to behold. I wouldn’t say they’re as good as the original songs, but they’re quite unique and have me wishing for a PSN OST of the game ASAP. The character sound bytes are awesome. It’s impossible to hear Master Onion yell “KICK, PUNCH” and not laugh. Similarly, Polygon Man saying “YOU ARE NOT RED-E” will make everyone around for the PSOne’s launch chuckle, as did the realization that the original Smash Bros. Fighting Polygon Team was likely a little swipe at Polygon Man.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale delivers some great fighting and hilarious comedy at the same time. It’s a must-have for anyone who loves the fast-paced style of fighting popularized by Smash Bros. While it would be easy to dismiss the game for being a copycat, doing so would be a mistake as the game does quite a few things differently that help it stand on its own. It’s a very well put-together game regardless of its inspiration and is worthy of at least a rental for skeptics.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
This review is based on a copy of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for the PlayStation 3 provided by Sony Computer Entertainment.