Sony has had many a memorable characters in its almost 20 year long journey. Seeing the success of other mixed mascot brawlers, they have decided to try their luck. Their first contact with water is no drowning experience, but they have still some learning to do before they’re able to swim.
Forget PSASBR’s arcade mode. The only purpose of it being there is to make an excuse for the battles, but the developer could have put a little more thought into it. Every character of the 20 iconic Playstation character roster has a rival, which equals 10 rival stories. Some of the rivals are actually quite interesting for example the two juggernauts Kratos vs. Sweeth Tooth, or the classic platformer battle between Jak & Daxter vs. Ratchet & Clank, but there are also somewhat crazy combinations like Big Daddy vs. Sackboy.
But the rivalries are not well told. You will always meet your rival at the second to last fight with a little cutscene that triggers some lunatic reason for them to fight each other. Even the characters’ own stories are poor consisting only of a comic cutscene at the start of the arcade run and another after finishing the final battle. Bottom line, the rivals and overall plot of the arcade is weak and can’t justify the purchase.
The roster of PSASBR has a mixed variety of well known heroes (Sly, Nathan Drake, Kratos) and also some not so well (Spike, Toro, Sir Daniel), the majority are great with different styles and personalities. There are even some multi-console characters like Raiden from Metal Gear Solid and Big Daddy from BioShock that bring their own spice to the game. For what I have played, Kratos and Raiden feel just a little over-powered, but that’s just me and future patches will hopefully tweak them to be more even. The overall balance between the characters is well-made. Some characters have slow moves, but they’re stronger, others have weak powers, but they have a wide effect. Others have weak basic moves, but their finishers are very powerful etc. You can play with any character and have a real chance at winning the game.
Now how’s the gameplay? Here the game definitely shines. Each character has a wide variety of attacks from basic hits, kick to air moves, signature moves, evades and most importantly, finishers. Finishers are PSASBR’s backbone. By hitting your opponents with your combos you fill up you finisher gauge. When its full, you can use it to get a kill. There are three levels of finishers, the third being the most powerful and having some kind of homage for the character’s series. You get kills with finishers and finishers only. At the end of the round the player, who has to most kills, wins the game. Even if you completely dominate your opponents, if they get more finisher kills than you, you lose. But watch out. When killed you also get minus points. That gives a little tactical aspect to the game. Kill everybody to get points and especially concentrate on lowering your nearest threat’s score.
The arenas for the battles take place in iconic PlayStation themed levels. They’re not simple tack ons from their respective games, but they’re are a mix of two games. That gives each level a very unique feel as you see Hades from God of War being backed up with an army from Patapon. Or when you’re kicking ass in LittleBigPlanet and then suddenly quizmaster Buzz comes out with a question. The crossovers are well-made and have a great contrast to them, though in some levels there’s a little too much (a Metal Gear attacking in Locoroco?!). Each level also generates items from different games to use against other players. Basic weapons such as guns from Uncharted and Killzone are accompanied by Sackbots from LBP and the Leech beam from Wipe0ut. Every item can be turned off individually from the options menu.
Now the Multiplayer. It’s a lot of fun. You can play an FFA, a team 2 vs. 2 match or an handicap match 3 vs.1. Any combination of any number of players is possible, which is great. Better yet, you can sign up to three PSN ID’s from one PS3 and go online. Game modes include Timed Mode in which who has the best score after time hits zero, wins. Stock Mode, where players have a set number of lives or Kill mode, where the player first to reach the kill limit, wins. You can tweak settings to your liking also from the options menu.
Customization. The game has some, but it could have had much, much more. Now, after finishing the arcade with a character, you get a couple of outfits, with different color pallets, a new intro and outro for your fighter and theme music. That’s it. Fighting games mostly rely on heavy customization to bring out your personal fighter, but PSASBR has a too tiny selection. Hopefully they will give us more options with free DLC.
PSASBR is also part of Sony’s Cross-buy campaign, which means you will get the PS Vita version free of charge when buying the PS3 version.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a fun party game, even though, online play isn’t fleshed out.
Its tedious arcade mode doesn’t give much value to the single gamer, but with a group of friends it’s crazy fun battling out your differences on who’s the better Sony mascot.