PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review (PS3 & Vita)

PS All-Stars Battle RoyalePlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (Available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SuperBot Entertainment
Release Date: November 20th, 2012

Parent Talk: Crude humor, mild language, mild suggestive themes, and violence are the main elements the ESRB warns parents about. While the fighting isn’t overly realistic like Mortal Kombat, the characters themselves come from T or M-rated games and therefore skew towards a somewhat older audience.

Plays Like: Despite what most may think, there’s a lot more to All-Stars than being a Super Smash Bros. clone. Make no mistake about it, this game was heavily influenced by that classic Nintendo series, but it mixes up the fighting elements enough that it feels like a completely different beast. Up to four players go head to head in order to build up a devastating super move, which is the only way to defeat your opponent. No being thrown off the stages here.

Review Basis: Played a ton of both the PS3 and Vita version, enough that one review will cover both games.

PS All-Stars had a lot to prove when it first was announced. The early video footage and screenshots made it look identical to Nintendo’s popular brawler. It featured the same cartoony look, same four-player battles, and for all intents and purposes, it looked like the exact same game. Fast forward to when I finally got my hands on it, and I can tell you now, this is an entirely different game. The ultimate question is whether or not it’s any good.

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The Great:

Complex fighting system takes a long time to master. It features a very steep learning curve, which could easily throw players off. Punches, kicks, throws, taunts, rolls, dodges, etc. are all available. While there are only three attack buttons, using them in combination with the d-pad or analog stick completely changes their output. Each of the game’s 20 playable characters feel completely unique. If you’re an inexperienced fighter, odds are you’re going to spend a lot of time just trying to learn the ropes of a single combatant. In this regard, PS All-Stars is a much more serious fighter than anyone expected, and also not the best game to just pick up and play for a few minutes. It requires devotion if you’re planning on actually winning matches.

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The Good:

+ Interesting win mechanic. By using combos and other skill-based moves, you build up a special power meter. Once it reaches max level, you can one-shot multiple opponents. Rack up enough kills within a certain time limit and you’re declared the winner.

+ Wonderful assortment of characters. You’ve got Nathan Drake, Sly Cooper and countless other famous PlayStation faces. There are also some nice third party additions like the Big Daddy from Bioshock and Raiden from the Metal Gear Solid universe.

+ Some of the best stage designs I’ve seen from a fighter in years. Each arena has a mash-up of at least two different universes. I don’t want to spoil them for anyone, but they’re typically games you’d never imagine would work together, but really do.

+ The audio visual presentation on both the PS3 and Vita versions are impressive. Characters animate well, are fluid and highly responsive. From an audio perspective, the music is exactly what you’d expect and all the famous voice actors return to their respective characters.

+ Online and local multiplayer is extremely fun. Coupled with wonderful cross-play features that allow PS3 and Vita users to play one another, and you have yourself a fighter you can literally play whenever the mood hits you.

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The So-So:

+/- Where are all the funky PS characters from days gone by? It would have been excellent to get Crash in here, or maybe the rabbit from Jumping Flash. While I enjoyed the characters that managed to make the cut, I felt a little more effort could have gone into highlighting some of the more obscure PlayStation characters from the early days of the platform.

+/- Arena challenges, such as moving platforms, butt heads with the technical fighting. It’s extremely hard to think three moves ahead when you’re trying to stay on a platform so you don’t get stunned for a couple of seconds. Thankfully you can turn these challenges off for versus play. For more casual matches they do a good job of allowing newbies to mess around.

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The Bad:

All-Stars biggest problem is one of an identity crisis. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. It has all the technical prowess you’d expect in a hardcore fighting game, but also features tons of casual-friendly options. At the end of the day the mash-up might throw off more people than it encourages to try the game.

The Ugly:

For whatever reason the menus look downright ugly. They go directly against the rest of the game and look completely uninspired.

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The Lowdown:

PlayStation All-Stars, which is what the game should have been called, is a really fun fighting game. It’s technical and requires tons of time and devotion to get the most out of. That’s also its biggest hurdle. There are already countless hardcore fighters out there, and this one happens to look like a casual-friendly game. Don’t be mistaken by the game’s look, this is a hardcore fighter wrapped up in casual clothing. For all those naysayers that said it was nothing more than a simple SSB clone, go take a closer look as I think you’ll be surprised. I know I sure was.

Final Score: 8/10

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