PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Developer: SuperBot Entertainment
Price: $60
Platform: PS3 & PS-Vita

Ever since Super Smash Bros. showed up everyone’s been wondering when Sony was going to get around to making their own brawler using their own Playstation icons and the newly formed SuperBot Entertainment is here to deliver. The game opens up with the entire roster duking it out on the XMB which I’m sure the person who came up with that probably thought was the funniest thing in the world, but this cinematic helps establish the character rivalries you’ll see in the arcade mode.

The game features 20 characters from the Playstation universe and even a few that aren’t. Some people are going to find issue with the roster due to the fact that it contains some questionable choices like Fat Princess, the Big Daddy from Bioshock, Raiden instead of Solid Snake, the new Dante instead of the original, two Cole’s from inFAMOUS, and of course it doesn’t have Crash or Spyro. It’s understandable that they couldn’t get everybody they probably wanted but some choices are still a bit odd. I feel they did a solid enough job of picking notable third and first party characters and making sure to pick the ones that people want from those games instead of giving us giving us 5 characters from a single franchise.

The arcade mode is the same as it is in any other with players going through half a dozen or so matches and fighting a boss at the end. SuperBot tries to spice things up a bit by trying to half-ass a story that basically amounts to “Hey something is going on over here, let me go check it out because it might help me out with the problem I’m having in the game I’m in” and ends with “Oh hey I got the power from the boss so now I can accomplish all my goals” with a narration over still frames. It’s not very interesting which annoys me because the only actual cutscene you see is when you fight your character’s rival since some of these are quite humorous; Kratos and Sweet Tooth get into a fight over spilled ice-cream. Unfortunately even these feel like they were randomly thrown in since they sort of just show up, you fight the rival, and then there’s no mention of the rivalry after that. They could have at least had a concluding cutscene or something. The boss fight against Polygon Man isn’t very interesting at all either since the fight amounts to Polygon Man floating in the background insulting you while you fight AI opponents. After each wave of enemies he’ll fall onto the stage where you can smack him silly while he’s dazed and after the third time he explodes. SuperBot really had the potential of having an iconic boss fight like the Master Hand but they really dropped the all hard here.

Now let’s get on to the main topic, the combat. PS All-stars features a really weird mechanic in that you can only score kills by using your super and your final score is based on your kill/death ratio. It’s a weird system that I’m still not sure if I like or not but it works. As you attack your enemies you’ll fill up a meter at the bottom and you can build up to a level 3 super. My biggest fear was that all the characters would share similar supers like how most of the characters in Super Smash Bros. Brawl do but thankfully that’s not the case (at least when it comes to the level 1 and 2 supers). Everyone has really neat level 1/2 supers that all build from things of their franchise so you’ll see Ratchet unleash the RYNO or the Big Daddy throwing out a little sister. Unfortunately almost all of them share the exact same level 3 super with each character falling into one of 3 categories: your character gets powered up in a cinematic and you just run around like normal killing everyone in a single hit, your character goes into a FPS mode where you shoot at the players on the field, or you go into a cinematic that kills everything on screen.

The fighting itself (while feeling a bit floaty) is definitely going to give the next Smash Bros. a run for its money. There are 3 attack buttons and each button has a different attack depending on what direction you’re pointing the left stick and whether you’re in the air; this gives players a solid list of moves they could use to tackle a situation that all feel notably different. I’m going to be pretty damn disappointed if Nintendo doesn’t rip this off for their next Smash Bros. game. I did find characters with swords (Kratos/Nariko/Raiden/Dante) were stupidly good compared to the rest of the roster. Not only are they faster than everyone else but their combos are probably the easiest to perform and a decent player can easily win the match with one of these characters.

I didn’t like how it’s impossible to fall off stages such as the Uncharted 3 arena since there’s an invisible wall stopping you from doing so. Other stages like the Loco Roco or Jak & Daxter stages have water you can walk in but a creature will come to eat you and respawn you in a dazed stat for a few seconds.

The stages themselves are fairly well designed but the biggest factor is how they will change mid-battle. You’ll be fighting atop flying vehicles from Killzone, to crash landing onto the street below only to have the floor beneath you demolished revealing another part of the arena. It’s all really cool and you’ll even have characters in the backgrounds, such as Patapons, interacting with the area you’re fighting in by attacking players. Some of the mash-up choices seem a bit weird like PaRappa with Resistance but it works surprisingly well. I wasn’t very impressed with the choice in items unfortunately since most of them are just gun variations and there aren’t many interesting or notable items.

Besides all that you’re left with some combat trials that give you some challenges to complete for each character so that you can level up their rank. I don’t know what the cap is but according to some of the unlockables 200 seems to be one of them. Oh yea, and this game has tons of things to unlock for each character. You’ll find alternate costumes (along with being able to change the color), new intros, taunts, victory music, icons for your player card, little minions that show up to cheer you on, and more.

I hope you really like local multiplayer because this is probably going to be the main reason why you should buy this game; the story mode is just way too bare and the online multiplayer isn’t as customizable as local is. You can customize a good amount of options in the local versus from specific items, having a 3v1 match, time, score limit, stock lives, and a few other choices; you can even completely remap the entire controller and save the changes. The most impressive thing is how you can play with vita players online or even in the same room. I gave a friend my copy of the Vita version (anyone who buys PSASBR on the PS3 gets a voucher for the Vita version) and we were able to easily play together on the coach and even go online together.

Unfortunately the online multiplayer isn’t as robust or customizable as the local play; you simply select free-for-all or 2v2, select your character, and then it throws you into a match. It would’ve been nice to see some sort of lobby support or some way of customizing the online matches. You also get kicked back to the main menu once the match is over and it’s really annoying to have to jump back into matchmaking to wait to get into another match.

I felt SuperBot did a pretty good job unifying the different art styles from all these games while still keeping the original look of each character; nobody ever clashes when standing next to another character or in specific levels. Graphically the game looks solid and all the effects such as when character explode into a cloud of Playstation icons all look really neat. The game also runs pretty damn smoothly even when things start to get a bit chaotic. Besides having stages that are mash-ups of two franchises, they also blended their songs together which transition phenomenally between each other. The UI sadly looks like complete garbage and really gives me the impression that it was thrown together at the last possible moment. Everything just has an incredibly flat and unprofessional look that reminds me of the layouts I’d see back in my high school digital design class.

The Final Word
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a solid step in the right direction for what a Sony brawler should be, but a lack of features/modes and the online multiplayer lacking in customization really gimps the overall package.

- MonsterVine Rating: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair