Let’s get this out of the way first… Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is not truly a bad game. I’m going to pick up a copy and play the crap out of it for about a week with my friends and have a ton of fun. The problem is, it’s not a game I could ever see be taken seriously, and I really don’t think it will last. Unless there is any true incentive to buy any DLC they might put out, I’ll skip it. It’s really a game that should only be pulled out when you have inexperienced members of your friends or family come over to play. Sadly, I have Super Smash Bros for that, so it’s probably going to collect dust.
What is wrong with it, you might ask. Well, it takes all the generic parts of Super Smash Bros, when it should take the specific parts of Super Smash Bros. This game would be A LOT better if it was a straight rip off of Smash Bros. If you’re going to rip something off, just do it, don’t try to be creative or different, you’ll just end up not being as good. This game is a joke compared to Smash. It feels relatively clunky and the gameplay is bland. There is no point in doing level 1 super move, when you can just do a level 2 or 3 in another minute. The fact that there is no damage and the sole purpose of the game is to smack invincible bodies around makes everyone fearless. I don’t care when I’m being hit. I should, but I don’t. Why? Because it doesn’t matter as long as I’m hitting them at the same time.
When you hit level 2 or 3 you’re guaranteed to kill. It demotivates the other players because it’s nearly unavoidable. Comparable to Smash‘s smash ball, but the smash ball doesn’t guarantee a kill. There is always a way out of a smash ball kill, in this game a level 3 will kill you twice in most cases, making the other player discouraged when he spawns because he knows he is going to die anyway. Discouraging a player is always the worst way to appeal to an audience. Rewarding players is good, killing players is fine… if it happens once. Once somebody dies twice in a row it puts a downer token on their gameplay experience and can completely turn off the player. Smash is better in every way.
Okay, I’m done ranting. What’s good about the game? Well, the cast of characters is bound to leave everybody smiling (except for Crash Bandicoot fanboys). It’s hefty with characters like Kratos, Nathan Drake, Colonel Radec, Sly Cooper, and even older All-Stars like Parappa the Rappa. They all have a versatile set of skills that relate to their abilities. They feel different enough from each other and balanced. I didn’t feel like anyone was really overpowered between the characters I experienced. I did feel like sometimes Kratos had too much power coupled with his range, or Radec’s sniper blast recovered too quickly, but I feel it’s a healthy balance for a game that isn’t supposed to be taken to a serious level.
The two levels I played were pretty cool. One of them, Hades, combined the Hades boss battle from God of War 3 with Patapons charging into battle. Hades seems to stand tall and even effects the gameplay a bit by smashing the ground and sending a shockwave across the arena, when suddenly the Patapons charge into the background and unleash a devastating volley of arrows onto Hades. It’s actually quite entertaining to watch. The other level was Metropolis from Ratchet and Clank and the Hydra from God of War. The level rocks a conveyer belt that drags the players into a spikey grinder. After the match has gone for a bit, the Hydra blasts out from the bottom of the stage and proceeds to smash the players around with his head.
This game isn’t honestly bad, but I can’t see this ever being played on a serious level. I can’t wait to see all the Playstation Fanboys try to argue this is as good as Smash. The characters are nice throwbacks and feel well balanced for this kind of game. The stages are interesting mash-ups and fun to watch. Sadly, this game suffers from poor core gameplay design choices and controls that just don’t fit a typical brawler. They even to a point feel clunky. It also often discourages players and doesn’t offer any strategy other than “slap that guy before he slaps you.” Sure, this is the beta of the game. Despite this, however, the beta is in testing for server reasons, not gameplay reasons. If there are tweaks to gameplay they’ll end up being day-one patches. The game is being printed as we speak. I’d pick up All-Stars if you’re a huge Playstation fan. If you’re not, it’s probably worth skipping it. We’ll see when the game launches soon.