When I saw the ads for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, my reaction was “We’ve been here before, I recognize that tree.” Actually, to be honest, it was a tad more skeptical, something like “Oh, so Sony finally made a Super Smash Brothers.” It turns out that while my statement was snarky, it wasn’t completely inaccurate, because it was the exact response I got whenever I told people what game I was playing on my PS3 recently.
If you’re hoping for the surprise twist where I say “It’s nothing at all like Super Smash Bros.,” the lack thereof will disappoint you. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is ridiculously similar to Nintendo’s game in a few major ways, including an interface and battle style so similar that you’ll feel as if you’re playing Super Smash Bros. with the wrong controller. However, I’m not entirely convinced that this is a negative. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale doesn’t get points for originality, but it does get points for not “fixin’ what ain’t broke.” In the world of game politics, it’s also interesting to see Sony ever-so-subtly admit that Nintendo did something well.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale starts with a three-minute free-for-all type of battle, which is familiar ground of you ever played SSB, though Sony’s new PS3 game actually eases you into fighting multiple opponents. First you’ll fight against one enemy, then two and eventually up to three so you can get used to the gameplay mechanics. I really like that move because sometimes jumping into fighting three characters at once feels a little overwhelming.
The controls for the characters are universal throughout the game, although PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale took a tip from games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat by adding a few special moves unique to each character. This adds a little more depth to the game, but at the same time makes it where you’ll probably only ever want to fight as one character.
When you first put the game in and let the intro play, you’ll see an awesome intro scene that’s really stylized and introduces every character. The cast in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is an interest6ing mish-mash of characters, including Kratos (form God of War), Sackboy (from LittleBigPlanet), Sweet Tooth (from the Twisted Metal series) and … Pa Rappa the Rappa.
No, that isn’t a typo.
Sony actually included one of the lamest characters ever invented in a fighting game. Fortunately, you don’t have to play as him, so you can take a little pleasure when stomping him as Kratos. Of course, when you’re fighting as Kratos, Sweet Tooth or any of the other “big meanie” type characters, you feel like a bully beating up on Toro, Sackboy or any other of the “little cutie” characters. The character selection and interaction is one aspect where the game doesn’t follow the Super Smash Bros. formula. In that game, all the characters have the same visual style and look as if they all exist in the same world. In PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, on the other hand, characters look like they ended up in the wrong world by accident, which leads to the amusing juxtaposition when you use Sackboy to assault Sweet Tooth.
Another aspect of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale that feels a little accidental is the forced storylines for the characters in “Story Mode.” They start and end each character’s quest with a clip that is relevant to their storyline, but then completely stray from it halfway through to establish a rivalry against another character. For example, Kratos’ story takes a turn for the weird when he comes across Sweet Tooth, who is supposed to be his nemesis in the game. For no reason, Kratos uses his Blades of Chaos to knock Sweet Tooth’s ice cream off of his cone, and when Sweet Tooth reasonably says “Hey, you should pay for that!” Kratos retorts with “I BOW TO NO MORTAL!!!” and the battle ensues. I would think that the character you play is the protagonist in their story for the game, so I was a little confused when my character was a jerk.¬ The nemesis for Sackboy made even less sense, using Big Daddy from BioShock, because their interaction, which included Little Sister, was just creepy.
Overall, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is mildly fun. It’s nice to play a fighting game as Kratos that wasn’t terrible (I’m looking at you Mortal Kombat 2011!), but I didn’t feel compelled to play Sony’s game as much as I did Nintendo’s brawler back in the day, so I don’t honestly see too much replayability in this. Once I completed the story lines for Sackboy and Kratos, I felt like I was done.
Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3 (system exclusive)
- Amber Taylor