PlayStation All Star Battle Royale is Sony’s latest release to bring family multiplayer to the masses. Reviving 20 “All Stars” from the Sony family such as Sir Daniel Fortesque, Parappa and Nariko. Pitted against each other in a winner takes all brawl.
The comparisons can obviously be drawn between PSABR and Nintendo’s Smash Brothers, and while the gameplay is identical, Sony brings its own take on the medium, with the way it has designed the characters. Where Nintendo focused on the brawling close combat of their warriors, Sony’s characters have far more of a focus on the ranged combat abilities of their stars. That said, the balance is sufficiently robust and comparable for each selection to never put any choice at a disadvantage, but distinct enough to make each feel unique.
The game is split into three core modes of Solo, Tournament and Versus.
Solo’s Arcade serves as the story mode, Challenge mode presents you with varied skill trials to test your ability and practice mode is a perfect opportunity to familiarise yourself with each character’s standard and special attacks. Each of the 20 characters have a mini back story to explain their reason behind becoming embroiled in this battle, whether it be Kratos’ desire to prove his worth to the Titans by destroying all the heroes on Earth, Ratchet and Clank’s search for golden bolts, or Sir Dan’s return from the Hall of Heroes to confirm if Zarok has returned once more to enslave the world. Battles progress from a simple one on one all the way up to a four player free for all.
These skirmishes all take place on battlefields inspired by popular sony game franchises, with Master Onion’s Dojo coming under attack mid way through by the Helghast or even the world of Locoroco being pummelled by a Metal Gear. The environments are lovingly crafted and stylised to emulate their specific influences. Each level can also have random power-ups strewn throughout and environmental hazards with which to contend.
Tournaments have an interesting caveat, with each contained within a “season” which typically lasts approximately one month, allowing you to refresh and improve over time without feeling you are left behind by those more dedicated to the title.
Scoring is simple. Each attack that connects will drop AP and charge your “Super Bar”. Once this bar is filled, you will unlock your special attack at level one. Continue to collect AP and your special will become more powerful for a longer duration up to a maximum of Level three. Connecting with these unleashed attacks will score you points and kills, so finding the balance of when to spend your hard earned power is counter-balanced by the strength and control of the Super Attack. Level one is typically a powerful short range attack, Level two is a controllable attack, and level three is typically an extremely powerful attack unique to each character.
Once the timer expires your scores are tallied, and the winner announced. XP is then dished out according to your score, and levelling is mainly cosmetic, unlocking new taunts, outfits and even avatars for online gaming. Should you fail to triumph, you can instantly replay the level again, and with only a few minutes duration at no point did I find this particular aspect of the game frustrating.
What I did find frustrating though, was the repetition. This game was truly designed for bite sized consumption, as playing for more than an hour can become extremely tedious, and fails to hold sway over my attention due to this aspect. As such, I cannot see myself returning to the solo mode for any true duration although I will most likely have the occasional blast of Tournament or versus from time to time, or firing it up on the vita for some on the go gaming.
With Cross-buy from the outset, your character levels are saved and transferred between your PS3 and Vita with ease, so continuing your gaming on the go is simple and cogent, and the controls are replicated effectively to fit the lack of Triggers on the Vita.
Playing through All Star Battle Royale was not only thoroughly enjoyable but also, for me, a lesson in humility and one of my proudest moments as a parent. For many years now, I have lead in the family pecking order as the primary gamer of the family. Be it my cousins, my sister, my wife or my son who all have varying skill levels as gamers, I would typically defeat them all in their arena of choice.
Those days now seem a fond memory as, like the young upstart lion challenging the alpha male, my son has finally come into his own by showing his natural aptitude to whup my ass at Battle Royale.
Maybe I should take up knitting?
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PS3/Vita Release Date: 21/11/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on both PS3 and Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.