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PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale Review

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Wednesday 2 January 2013Comments Off

Available on PS3 and PSV l Published by Sony l Developed by SuperBot Entertainment l Classified PG l Supports 1-4 players

REVIEW IN BRIEF > This is Sony’s first attempt to grab some of that sweet mascot beat-em-up pie that Nintendo has kept to itself for so long now. But don’t let the similarities between All-Stars and Smash Bros fool you, there are significant differences separating the two games. A healthy roster, an interesting super system and some spectacular backdrops make All-Stars a worthy purchase for those looking for some multiplayer shenanigans. Solo players need not apply.

REVIEW IN FULL > All-Stars was certainly a fighting game, but not in the traditional Street Fighter sense of the word. It started out like any normal fighter, by letting me choose from one of 20 characters from Sony’s back catalogue. From there, things took a turn into new(ish) territory. I took my chosen character through an arcade mode where I faced increasingly difficult challenges, be it in the form of more skilled opponents or extra combatants (up to four on screen at once). Eventually I reached a final boss (who provided some welcome PS1 flavoured nostalgia). This structure was pretty similar to fighting titles I had played before, but the gameplay itself was very different to just about anything I had experienced.

While the game was a fun diversion in the single player modes, there wasn’t much to encourage repeat playthroughs. Thankfully multiplayer was a different story.

Controlling my character was easy, with buttons for jumping and light, heavy and special attacks. There were no combos to learn, no intricate patterns to utilise. My attacks were altered depending what direction I was pressing on the controller. There was also a block button, which I barely used. The control scheme was a breeze and it wasn’t long before I was able to pull off moves like a seasoned professional. This was where things took a different turn. I could beat down my opponent for almost the entire game and still not win. There were no life bars in All-Stars, only special meters. The meter filled as I wailed on my opposition and once it reached a certain level, I could trigger a super attack, which would kill my enemies and add points to my score. There were three levels of super move. Level one eliminated opponents only once, but the higher level supers wiped them out multiple times, creating a game of risk vs reward. Would I go for the easy kill or keep trying to build my super meter to level three and go for the massive points?

While the game was a fun diversion in the single player modes, there really wasn’t much there to encourage repeat playthroughs. Once I’d seen all of the characters’ very cheesy victory videos, I didn’t feel the urge to do it all again. Thankfully multiplayer was a completely different story. The simple controls made this the perfect party game that almost anyone could learn. I played games with my seven and three year old children, who both picked it up in no time. Hell, my seven year old even got lucky and beat me once (I blame the controller… it was slippery). I had a blast playing with friends in the same room, but online was a different story. It seemed the net code required more work, as getting a game was often difficult and even when I did, lag reared its ugly head regularly.

I also found the roster to be a little uneven. Characters I assumed would be good, like Kratos, Dante and Raiden, were good. Characters I thought would be terrible, like Fat Princess, Sackboy and PaRappa, were terrible. The gulf was quite large, meaning I didn’t bother with the weaker combatants unless I was forced to. The best fighting games are balanced enough to allow a good player to beat a bad player with any character, but in All Stars this simply wasn’t the case. There were some surprises in the roster though. I never would have picked Nariko from Heavenly Sword to be particularly great, but her agility and range proved to be massive advantages. On the other side of the coin, I thought that Cole (both the good and evil versions) from Infamous would be hard to beat (he can wield electricity, after all) but he turned out to be a bit of a wuss.

I never would have picked Nariko from Heavenly Sword to be particularly great, but her agility and range proved to be massive advantages.

While it was essentially the same game, I did encounter some problems with the Vita version of All-Stars. Due to the nature of the handheld, multiplayer could only be online, meaning that a big part of the game’s appeal had been taken away. The other issue I encountered was that the chaotic nature of the action quite often made it hard to follow on such a small screen. It was very easy to lose my character amongst all of the supers, attacks and other players involved in the melee. It would be hard to recommend the Vita version to anyone who wasn’t getting it for free with their PS3 copy.

As a far as couch multiplayer games go, All-Stars is in the top group. Playing with your friends or kids is a blast and this is clearly what the developers have in mind for the game. In fact, this is pretty much the only reason to buy it, as there simply isn’t enough here to sustain solo play. So, if you’re the type of person to have you mates around for a massive gaming session, All-Stars is for you, otherwise it’s probably best to skip it (or wait for a sale). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some revenge to exact on my son. He is not going to beat me again…

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