Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale – Game Review
Title: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
Developed By: Superbot Entertainment / SCE Santa Monica Studio / Bluepoint Games (PS Vita)
Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment
Based On: Several Franchises which Appear on the Playstation Consoles
Console: Playstation 3 / Playstation Vita
Review Conditions: Playstation 3, Physical Media. PS Vita version was tested for cross-platform.
Special Thanks: Sony Computer Entertainment for providing me with a copy of this title to review
For three installments now, Nintendo have let fans of their many franchises jump into the fighting arena and battle each other as characters from Super Mario to Pokemon. While the core gameplay mechanics have been tweaked but still pretty much the same after so long, it has been a fun series to play over the years and provided myself with countless hours of multiplayer entertainment.
But given this was a Nintendo title – there have been many characters on many other consoles which unless things changed – would never have the chance to cross between game universes and provide an all-out battle royale experience to their fans behind the controller. This all changed when after several months of rumours, it was announced that Superbot Entertainment would be developing Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale for the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita consoles.
While some might have expected this to be a clone of their console rivals, you will be surprised to know there are considerable differences in gameplay which brings it into line with the unique quirks of other fighting games on the market. BUT in a market filled with pre-existing fighting games does Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale stand a chance? Let’s see shall we…..
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale contains a grand total of 20 characters (22 when you count 2013’s DLC characters), with each of them having a respective arcade mode storyline. The characters are mixed ranging from first party characters such as Sackboy, Ratchet and Clank and Nathan Drake, third party titles including Raiden, Big Daddy and Dante and finally some characters you might not expect to know unless you are from a particular region (ie. Toro Inoue from Mainichi Issho). While the characters might not fuse together as well given their comparatively different designs, their inclusion is appropriate given the games intent.
Each of these characters have a basic storyline where they are drawn into the fray, undertake a couple of battles, come across their “Rival” and finally face against the games final boss. The storylines are short and sweet, but could have done with better delivery of and more scenes which would keep it from feeling like a storyline has just been tacked onto the game at the last moment. The storylines themselves work with the characters and while the “rival” characters are pretty random, some of them do work quite well.
Despite the inclusion of a few gameplay features, the actual fighting system included in Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale differs from its Super Smash Bros. counterpart. Both games offer a competitive (and depending on who you are fighting with…. challenging) experience but as to how you earn the points to win top spot is another issue entirely. As you may have already noticed in the screenshots above there is absolutely no health meter – and no matter how much damage you cause your opponent they are not necessarily going to fly off the screen and lose a life.
Instead, through performing attacks you obtain All-Star points (AP) which in three levels allow you to perform special attacks which will instantly knock out your opponent and earn you points. It is a simple system to grasp, but comes with some degree of risk as while slowly building up your AP bar to the top tier may potentially knock out all enemies, you could knock out all three opponents with a single AP skill if you are not hit during performing the skill. At the same time, you have to take into account your enemies own bars and devise a strategy of attacks and defensive measures to ensure you don’t build theirs up as well. It might not be so challenging in single-player mode but go into a four player online match and there is where the game truly shines.
The games character roster of 20 characters as mentioned above is a pretty diverse bunch from a range of Playstation franchises. Each of these characters handle differently and provide some interesting moves that pay tribute to their source series and the character themselves. For example, Toro Inoue who during “Weekly Toro Station” and “Toro! Let’s Party” frequently changes costumes, is able to change costumes and fighting styles at will while Sackboy can use select summons and tools from LittleBigPlanet. This not just limited to the attacks but battle speed, combo capacity and more which provides each character with some appealing factor to try them out.
On the other hand, the game comes with a compilation of 14 stages which it derives from various Playstation franchises both associated and not associated with characters included in the game. To extend the appeal of stages they incorporate not a single game but two into each, so during the LittleBigPlanet stage Buzz from Buzz! will appear and query the fighters on their gaming knowledge while the stage based around Ratchet & Clank will be invaded by God of War and so forth. The stages are as entertaining to watch as they are to play on, and are active environments so can pose as much threat as your opponents. A noticeable issue I found was that with at least some of the stages, after the standard 3-4 minute mark the activity ends instead of offering something interesting to do or even a loop. This might not be so bad in some stages, but what is so wrong about having Buzz appear a couple of times during an 8 minute battle (For example)?
The games single player mode comes with not only the “story” arcade mode for each of the 20 characters but also your general practice mode and an indepth tutorial for each of the characters. Also included are “Combat Trials” for each of the characters and in general. While not in depth as I would have liked for this game, they encourage some different battle requirements to complete the stages and earn points to progress. In terms of multiplayer gameplay, you have the online “Tournament” mode which provides Ranked and Quick match support. While for the purpose of this review I didn’t delve into this mode much… there were no noticeable issues when playing in these matches. The versus mode is as you would expect, allowing four players to play any of the stages with customizability of match options and a rather extensive item listing paying homage to many games. Multiplayer is where this game shines – especially with solid interoperability between the PS3 and PS Vita versions with no real issues.
I personally love when developers attempt to include some form of character customization into their games and do it right. The game does this well enough by providing a levelling system for each of the characters – which open unlocking new levels provides new costumes, taunt/intro/outo animations and victory music. Providing more customization however is your Profile Card – giving you considerable control over its design through backgrounds, Icons, Titles, Team Titles and in-battle minions which can be unlocked once again through the levelling system and other means.
Visuals / Music
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale comes with solid visuals from the moment you begin the game with a simple but well thought out opening sequence. The models for each character are accurate replications from their representative game, and aside from incorporating the characters into the battle environment don’t stray too far from what you would expect the characters to fight with. All characters however at the very least are well detailed and animated. The same can be said for the stages, which as you may see from the images and text above are creatively designed and filled with activity and life… at least for the first few minutes.
The music tracklist included in this game is also solid, and often drew from music from each of the games the stages and characters were from. In addition, from what I can tell at least most of the voice cast from the original games have returned to provide their voice work for their representative characters – with even non-game character voice actors such as Stephen Fry appearing to provide their narration for their representative series.
There are plenty of areas for Superbot Entertainment to improve the game through further patches, DLC content and potentially other releases. But from what I have seen the developers have provided a solid fighting experience and overall pulling off the intended goal well – incorporating characters from the various game universes that have made their home on the Playstation consoles into a game where they can brawl with each other. Plus you get a copy of the game on the PS Vita to boot!
A challenging and complex battle system coupled with a strong character roster. I look forward to seeing how Superbot Entertainment handles this title over the coming months and years.
Storyline/Character Development: D
Music/Voice Acting: B
Personal Opinion: B+
Overall Score: B+