A lot of folks are either on the "love it" or "hate it" side of PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale. On the one hand, you obviously have the fans of Super Smash Bros. who insist that Superbot's upcoming fighting game is nothing more than a shallow clone of their beloved series. On the other, you have people who are genuinely excited to be playing as Sony's best heroes (and 3rd party superstars), fighting with their friends on both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. I recently had a chance to go hands-on with an improved build of the game, getting to see three new characters in action and see whether the game will be able to quiet the haters.
First off, the flow of the fighting is well balanced. Say what you will about "Smash Bros. clone, blah blah", but the truth is, this game does have some nuances that make it feel like its own beast, particularly with the distance attacks and the various shake-ups on each stage. Each one actually interacts in its own special way, like the Buzz! stage, where you have to stand on particular sections of the field with a highlighted correct answer to avoid taking harm from incoming projectiles. The newer stages of the game introduced during my hands-on were equally fantastic, most notably Uncharted's airborne plane stage and the Parappa dojo-turned-city-invasion setting. If only Master Onion were a playable character…DLC, perhaps?
Another cool aspect that Sony was happy to show off with its latest build of All Stars was its Cross-Play. As previously confirmed, when you buy one version of PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale for PS3 or PS Vita, you get the other for no additional charge. For good measure, Sony has also confirmed that the fighting will be the same across the board, so you can battle with your handheld friends along with your console crew. I tested this through a couple of sessions, and though only a handful of fighters and stages were available with this particular demo, the game ran incredibly smooth, with barely any hitches in connectivity or performance. That's a feat to be proud of, even if Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 set the bar a few months ago with the same features. Hey, there are more fighters in this one, at least!
Now for the three new characters in the game, introduced over the past couple of weeks. Sir Dan, the resident knight in Medievil, appears here, and is a fairly balanced character, with some decent projectile attacks and up-close maneuvers that make him an interesting contender (though he's only going to appeal to a certain few with his Supers). Meanwhile, Nariko, from the Heavenly Sword series, is way better thanks to her chaining combos, her impressive Supers (including a powerful Heavenly Sword strike series) and stunning versatility. Meanwhile Raiden, from Metal Gear Rising Revengeance, is a confirmed bad-ass, with his powerful plasma blade and plenty of kicks to keep enemies in the air for multiple hits. Also his Level 3 super is the best, as he has everyone stuck in cardboard boxes while carving them up. Brilliant.
These characters add to a fine cast that also includes the likes of Dante, Kratos, Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper and a number of other familiar faces, and we aren't done seeing the roster additions just yet, as it's rumored that Kat from Gravity Rush will soon arrive…now, how about Crash Bandicoot, Superbot?
Look for more coverage of PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale in the weeks ahead, as we count down the weeks to its arrival this November.