previews\ Apr 30, 2012 at 10:50 am

PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale preview


Last week in California, Sony hosted an event to showcase some of its bigger games for 2012.  Among them was a title that’s been rumored for a long time; one that’s been leaked in several places and somewhat confirmed with the securing of several domain names — PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.  The company gave us the opportunity to go hands on with the game and the initial six fighters it will include.

Now, before you go off on any sort of “hey, this looks like Smash Bros.!” tangent, yes, it’s true.  PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale is essentially Sony’s equivalent of Nintendo’s multiplayer fighting game.  However, the newly formed development team at Superbot has done a good job making it feel like its own little party, adding certain things to the engine and making familiar characters from the PlayStation universe fit right in to the battle.

The first six characters are an interesting bunch.  You’ve got Fat Princess, a character who’s a better melee fighter than you might expect; Sly Cooper, who’s good on both speed and quick attacks; Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth, a guy that’s handy with a hatchet and mines; Kratos from God of War, a character who kicks ass on the ground and in the air; Parappa the Rapper, who has a few good moves along with several great super attacks; and Killzone’s General Radec, who’s nasty from a distance with an assault rifle.  All six bring something to the game, and over the next few months, several additions will be announced, including rumored favorites like Ratchet and Clank, Sackboy and Nathan Drake.

As for the gameplay, it’s got a lot in common with Smash.  You’ve got your various attacks that you can use on opponents, and they can change up depending on which direction you’re holding the D-pad or analog stick, so you can easily juggle someone in the air or lay them out with a vicious ground attack.  Once you hit an opponent enough times, you’ll be able to hit them with a super technique.  You can build this up three times — level one through level three — and the higher the super, the more enemies you can take out.

For instance, level one attacks consist of a quick strike, like what Sweet Tooth or Kratos can do with their weapons.  Level two offers a better range for taking out enemies, like with Parappa jumping on a skateboard and running people over.  Level three attacks go all out, from Parappa’s slamming stage attack to Radec jumping behind the camera and mounting a gun in a first-person perspective, shooting everything that moves.  Sweet Tooth’s robotic transformation is awesome as well.

An interesting fact about PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale is that you can’t knock anyone out of the ring.  They can’t fall off a platform to their death (like in Smash), nor can they be knocked into the stratosphere for instant kills.  Here, you have to fight in order to win the match.  It’s an interesting perk, along with the ability to pick up weapons throughout each battle, such as Resistance’s spiky grenades and a laser spear.

The backgrounds mix up quite a bit throughout the game.  So far, we know of four — a LittleBigPlanet level, a Hades stage, Ratchet and Clank’s Metropolis, and Jak and Daxter’s village.  Each one changes quite vastly, with serpents popping up in Metropolis to give Captain Qwark a hard time, and the LBP stage suddenly converting into a Buzz! TV show, complete with questions in-between rounds.  (You need to stand on the right answers to avoid taking damage.)  These are splendid additions to the game and keeps things unpredictable enough so you’ll continue to move around.  Our favorite of the bunch so far is Hades, as he tries to pound enemies in the foreground before becoming surrounded by Patapon.  Yes, Patapon.

So far, Sony has only confirmed local multiplayer (up to four people) for All Stars, but come on.  They’re going to announce online play soon enough, as that’s one of Smash Bros.’ more popular features on the Wii.  Look for that confirmation around E3, along with a few more surprises.

Even though some of you could dismiss this as a tasteless clone, PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale does have plenty of oomph to it thanks to the savvy programming of Superbot and an assortment of characters and backdrops that will keep you fighting well into the next round.  We’ll let you know how the final game fares when it ships in time for the holidays later this year.

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