Why PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale Deserves a Chance To Succeed
When Sony announced PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale right before E3, a lot of gamers already had their minds made up on what they thought about its brawling tactics. They brushed it off and assumed it was nothing more than a cheap cash-in on Nintendo's popular Super Smash Bros. brand, which has been going strong since the N64 days.
But is that really all it is? It doesn't seem that way. True, the formula is easily copied from Nintendo's games, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Just look at how, for the longest time, Call of Duty copies Medal of Honor, then succeeded on its own terms. Couldn't PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale kind of do the same thing?
Yep, I think so. While I can't exactly give it a final review as of yet (we still have yet to test finished code as well as the online/Cross-Play setups), I can state the reasons why I believe it'll be one of Sony's best weapons for the holiday season…
The developers know what they're doing.
SuperBot Entertainment has been vying to make PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale feel like it has its own vibe since it started development, and even though most of the moves and item pick-ups resemble Smash Bros., there are some things that stand out. For instance, not being able to cheaply be killed by getting knocked off the platform or flung into the distance will go a long way to calm down frustrations from "cheap deaths". The super move system actually has some weight to it – should you unleash a quick attack for kills or save up for a finish-guaranteeing level three super? – and each character has pros and cons in terms of balancing. Radec and Nathan Drake are excellent for tactical fighters; Toro and Sackboy provide a challenge for those seeking something different; and the likes of Nariko, Kratos, Raiden and Dante are quick slashers that can do a lot of damage. There's something for everyone.
There's some Sony love in the design.
Rather than just paste characters into a fighting game and call it good, SuperBot Entertainment actually went out of their way to give each one identity, as well as throw in nods to the classic Sony crowd that grew up with said characters. Each one actually has their own storyline, as well as their own rival that they run across before facing the final boss, the Polygon Man that was first introduced from the PS One days. (And yes, he does say, "You are not ready!", which was part of the system's original advertising.) Seeing these unfold, as well as being rewarded Trophies for leveling up their character and beating the game with them, gives the single player portion lots of weight, along with the option to fight against AI bots. Fans will keep coming back for more until every Trophy is collected, and, by then, newer characters will be added via DLC.
Cross-Play Goes a Long Way
It isn't enough that PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale is getting a shot on the PS3 – it's coming to the PlayStation Vita as well, and looks to be a fairly solid port. What's more, it can interact with the PS3 game in terms of Cross-Play, where users can log in with either system and brawl with friends, no matter what they're using. We've seen this in action at various trade events, and so far, so good.
What's more, snagging the PS3 version gives you the Vita version as a download for free, the first of many retail titles to take advantage of the Cross-Buy feature. (Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault and Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time will also take advantage.) Getting two games for one is a hell of a deal – and none of Nintendo's Smash Bros. games do that as of yet. (The 3DS/Wii U ports might, but nothing is confirmed as of yet.)
It's Fun To Play
Though we can't speak for final review code yet, the sessions we've had with All Stars have been nothing but joyous. Surprising players with finishing kills, grabs and item usage is always a plus, and the more people you have involved in a multiplayer match, the better. This could easily be one of those favorites, whether you have friends around locally or through PSN, that could grow on you in the months ahead.
Hold the Snap Judgment
In the end, yes, Sony does copy some elements of Smash Bros., but SuperBot Entertainment is going out of its way to make it feel like its own entity, while at the same time making it joyously fun. We'll let you know how it fares in the final version, but, honestly, you shouldn't dismiss it so quickly. This is one of those fighters that just might grow on you. Even if Sackboy does kick your ass way too often…