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February 27, 2014 / Jett

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review


PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale isn’t going to win any awards for originality, though I don’t think that’s the point here. Sony at this point in its life seemingly has the cast of characters and the cache to pull this off, so why not? While this provides a decent Smash Bros.-like experience, the devil is in the details, which it misses in a number of key areas.

The cast of 20-something characters does a good job of covering the pantheon of PlayStation’s legacy. Of course, Kratos and Nathan Drake are here, as well as some old standbys such as Parappa the Rapper. However, there are a few notable omissions, such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, both of whom are no longer under Sony’s control. While they do bring in some outside help, such as the Big Daddy from BioShock, Dante from DMC Devil May Cry and Raiden from Metal Gear Solid, it’s not enough to plug the holes. The characters that are here at least are fun to play as and offer different play styles.

When the action begins, it looks a lot like Smash Bros. However, there’s a few distinct differences that differentiate it; arguably for the worst. Points are not scored by knocking people off of the stage. In fact, most stages are closed environments. Instead, you can only score points by landing super moves. In order to do this, you hit people, which gives you points within a super move gauge. You can store up to 3 full bars of super and you’ll get different moves based on the number of bars you spend at once.

There are a lot of things about this system that rub me the wrong way. I really don’t like how this system really marginalizes most of the action until you get a super gauge full. Sure, you need to make contact to build meter, which then lets you score the kill, but you’re never actually inflicting harm on your foes until you’ve got your big move on deck. Also, since only super moves score points, most fights don’t feel very interesting most of the time until people start pulling off supers. I personally prefer the Smash Bros. system where everything counts. Even a stray light attack can win you the game if your opponent is weak enough. Here, it’s all about the big swing, which makes the action feel more monotone than it has to.

In terms of modes, you get an alright assortment. If you want to go at it alone, there’s a standard-issue arcade mode. You can practice your skills in training mode or trial mode, which gives you a number of assorted challenges to complete. Or you can take the game online for ranked or player matches. If you love the core mechanics, online play is going to keep you busy for a long time.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is not a bad game. If you’re starving for a Smash Bros.-style experience and don’t own a Nintendo console, this is probably your best bet. However, I personally find the core combat to be not as interesting and the roster isn’t as epic as it had the potential to be.


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3 Comments

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  1. oinfrar3do / Feb 27 2014 5:53 PM

    I had way too many weeks spent with this before I finally left it alone. Lots of fun but be sure you’re playing with people: its not something you can grind as a single player experience at all.

    PROS:
    – Combos are good and awesome to execute. Easy through to advanced requirement keeps things interesting.
    – Plenty of characters with diverse movesets.
    – Meta comes together quite nicely – Throws beat evade, Evade beats attack, Attack beats throw. Controls feel good.
    – … to be honest for me thats about it. They’ve sorted out the netcode online which was nice, so now it’s playable.

    CONS:
    – You can only compare it to smash – and it just feels inferior. Experience feels stale compared to Smash. Like you say, hits don’t count for much unlike in Smash where EVERY hit means a little more.
    – Super system is an irritation and a bore. Encourages stupid behaviours and YOLO attitudes. Most cannot be punished and are just basically: “What the hell” zero risk ONLY reward buttons. It feels stupid and brainless. I play Heihachi and I basically play to get to Level 2 which releases Kuma (contact with him = death). He chases things around the screen – suddenly my only chance at success rests with an AI that is the most erratic and random thing I’ve seen in my life.
    – Most “good” characters have a single abusable move – and it serves to define their playstyle.
    – The balancing of characters is hilariously broken – with or without items.
    – Feels like just a Sony Marketing Strategy every time I play it. Also seems like they saw the success of Smash as a big Marketing thing for Nintendo and went: “Yeah, sounds great”.

    In conclusion: Balancing makes it impossible to take seriously in anyway, while the tediousness of the gameplay itself makes it boring at casual to mid level play. The more I play it, the more tedious it becomes. The Super system is the nail in the coffin and its the thing the game is based around. Which sucks – its forgiveable outside of competition, but inside: considering the developers expressed interest in the game becoming a competitive fighting game, it’s a little more than disappointing.

    Obviously some will take to the mechanics more than others, and I did for a while – I forgave some of the short comings but it was my new favourite thing, but since then they introduced new characters and the balancing somehow became worse than it already was, so I’ve really left it alone since then. Loved it for the longest time, but I think I’m a little more sure what I think of it now.

    You might get a daft laugh out of it with friends but I’ll hedge little more than that.

    “Smash with combos” is a little too generous for it in my humble opinion.

    Anyway – long comment again – sorry guys. Great article.

    • Jett / Mar 3 2014 9:26 AM

      Great comment! Do you think Sony will every try and come back to this concept?

      • oinfrar3do / Mar 3 2014 1:46 PM

        Maybe – only when they have another host of franchises to reboot or publicise. I’m not sure Sony considered the game a success – but I guess we can only wait and see. It won’t be a while before we see another if at all is my guess.

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