ince it’s unveiling earlier this year, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale has constantly received comparisons to another system exclusive fighting game. All throughout this year, I was one of those people commenting on the similarities and how Sony and Superbot Entertainment were simply capitalizing on a formula that has been proven to work. I am very happy to report that after many hours of playing across the single player and multiplayer modes, the final product does not just compare to the other mascot brawler on the market, it does even better and in doing so exceeds my lofty expectations.
Superbot is a new name in the industry, brought together to create this frantic fighting game using all the stars of Playstation’s past and present. Many of its staff were originally from other fighting games as well as the fighting game community, and it certainly shows. The game feels incredibly balanced and technical from the first punch, and its mechanics continually surprise me hours after playing through a majority of the initial twenty characters. Each character has both offensive and defensive maneuvers, and with the exception of Cole and Evil Cole all have very diverse attacks and strategies. Throughout my playing, I would start with a new character, unimpressed with the move set and ready to go back to my previous character with whom I had just gotten the hang of. By the end of their arcade story, however I found myself swearing that they were now my favorite character to use in the game.
Consistent playing would open new methods and each enemy presented a different set of challenges I would need to overcome. Collecting AP, or All Star Points involves finding glowing orbs that will build your meter. The meter, once filled will allow you to launch a Super Attack that can clear out the enemies and score points for your overall score. The Super Attack comes in three levels, the final being an incredible display that utilizes familiar moments and powers from that character’s own game. Controlling Cole as he casts down a screen filling hurricane of lighting to vanquish his foes, or Raiden trying to find the opponents as they scurry across the stage hiding in a cardboard box is just a few of the incredible moments played out once a Level Three Super Attack is unleashed.
The arcade mode is the majority of what will be experienced during the single player modes, however there are trials and combo tutorials that can improve a player’s overall skill and ability. The arcade mode, like most other fighting games is pretty simple, with still images and voiceovers that barely conveys the reason for each character taking part in the battle. When something like Mortal Kombat can tell a more believable story, you know something is not right. It really is a shame that the story was not very fleshed out, it would have been interesting to see Sony mainstays like Jak and Dexter or Ratchet and Clank truly have a battle to see who the top Sony mascot really is. Instead we get an uninspired script and hardly any logical reasoning for these characters to face off. In all honesty, however the story is not the real draw for a game of this nature. The real test comes in the multiplayer, and All Stars does an incredible job of making fighting fun once again.
I told the story on a recent episode of the podcast about my first experience with the game about sensational bashing siblings, and how the game was a party classic for many years. The nights would turn into day and we would battle for bragging rights and to truly find out which of our childhood heroes was the best fighter. All Stars continues this trend, and now with online multiplayer being so easy to access allows us to once again wage war for hours. Games of this nature before seemed like it was very one dimensional in my opinion. Increasing one’s damage percentage until you were ready to lay out a massive attack that would send them soaring off of the screen. There was strategy involved, but to me it always seemed very easy to exploit and abuse. In All Stars, watching an opponent’s meter is like playing chess; attempting to read every move and anticipate which attack will come next or when the player will decide to use the meter to attempt a Super Attack. Like competitive fighting games currently in rotation, the best players can anticipate and adapt to almost any type of mechanic or game style. The screen in a multiplayer match can sometimes seem like pure chaos, especially since each stage is an insane smashup of several Playstation titles. Some as iconic as the cargo ship from Uncharted, to the most obscure like playing trivia on the main stage of Buzz. Weapons as well as hazards will also make combat more frantic and will give the fastest player an opportunity to find more AP to build their meter. The game at the time of this writing does have some balancing issues. However they are small compared to other fighting games and in time I’m sure will be address in title updates and patches. New DLC will also be appearing, and hopefully new characters and stages will keep this title in the fighting game scene for a very long time.
Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is truly the evolution of the fighting party game, and also has enough balance and skill involved to be a tournament game for the most competitive fighting game scene. I would be ecstatic if we saw something like All Stars make an appearance at EVO or other tournaments throughout the year. Mechanically it really is that good. A few missed opportunities and balancing does hold the game back, but does little to tarnish the fun I had playing the last few weeks. I’ve attempted the entire review to not mention Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros series by name, only because I feel like it does both games a disservice. All Stars is not Smash Bros. It is its own game and own identity, and should be experienced by Sony fans and fighting game fans alike.