Playstation-All Stars Battle Royal is a first attempt by Superbot Entertainment, a company formed by former Executive Producer at Sony Santa Monica, Shannon Studstill. A game that the original design was actually to be styled around a Capture the Flag type game, changed into a four player brawler designed to highlight the best of the best Sony characters all in one game.
The story mode in Playstation All-Stars is basically an extended tutorial called Arcade mode. You can play it at three different difficulties, and it starts out with the character you choose explaining why they are going to fight. After a series of fights, you face your rival. Here you are given a hastily thrown together cutscene that is over quickly, and you fight. The mode then has you face off with Polygon Man, but in reality, you are facing just one opponent, beat him, beat two opponents, then three. Then the mode ends with receiving a trophy.
It lacks any real narrative or progression, but it does help you get down a character and his moves. Besides Arcade mode, there are a few other Solo mode options. You can do advanced tutorials which teach you how to avoid traps, or combo tutorials which essentially teach you how to maximize your effectiveness as a certain all-star. There are combat trials that teach you the ins and outs of how to be effective and how to use your super. In all, these solo modes do greatly enhance your ability to play as any character in the roster. When you move on to Versus mode or Tournament mode, you will have a much better shot at being the top dog.
Graphics and Presentation:
The graphics are pretty decent, nice vibrant colors with stunning visual stages. The interactivity of the giant MAWLR in the background of the Dojo firing rockets at the players after the building had been ripped apart is well done. The stages themselves do a good job as a tribute to the franchises that spawned them. The Locoroco stage being one that truly sticks out as hitting the mark of representing the art style and sound of the game. Unfortunately, the menus are a bit bland, leaving much to be desired.
From the hits to the music in the background, Superbot did a good job making the stages feel and sound like the games. Hearing the Uncharted music as the plane is forcibly opened on Stowaways not only makes the stage feel like the chapter from Uncharted 3, the music puts you right in the series franchise. Superbot also allows you to customize each characters outro music if they win the match, and they did a good job with these little touches incorporating song tracks from the respective franchise.
Gameplay and Controls:
Any fighter is first judged on how it plays, and how it controls. PSASBR delivers on both fronts. Each character plays differently, their own movelist, and very few instances of characters having the same moves, barring the two Coles. Each character is tailor made with each attack meticulously laid out and implemented as they would have been seen from the franchise itself. Sir Daniel is not going to pull out a machine gun as one of his attacks much like Cole is not using a sword. Instead, PSASBR is an incredible fan service. Drake can go into cover firing his AK-47, lobbing grenades or firing a grenade launcher. Kratos has combos directly from God of War, Sackboy uses his Popit to unleash traps and attacks, and the list goes on.
Players are pitted in either Free-For-All combat or can split into teams. There are limited options on gametypes, ranging from Stock battle, Time battle, or Kill count. You can perform attacks with the face buttons and combine many moves into devastating combos that build AP for super attacks. The only way to score is to kill an opponent with a super attack. You can build from a Level one super to a Level three Super attack. Here lies the risk-reward. If you wait and continue to the higher Super attacks, you are more likely to score multiple guaranteed kills. Level one supers might be quick to build, but easy to evade.
Many fans dismissed the idea of building AP to earn a super to kill instead of scoring a ring out. However, going up against harder bots or good players, having to defeat them solely on a super attacks makes you strive for perfect timing and precision. Another gripe was that the stages lacked urgency, since you could not be killed by it, they lacked any real sense of danger. That is far from the truth. On San Francisco you can get caught in a bubble that prevents you from moving, hence an easy kill for someone with a super. On Alden's Tower, you are tasked with climbing the tower while fighting. If you are caught at the bottom of the screen when it scrolls up, you respawn in a daze for a few seconds, left like sheep for slaughter. Others take away your AP which makes getting a quick super kill with 15 seconds to go much harder. And if you just got your level one super, if the stage attack detracts your AP, now you have to regain it. It's a system that isn't truly appreciated until you face players better than yourself and teach you how intricate the fighting system really is in PSASBR.
As you win battles, you earn rank on that character. Rank goes from 1-999. You unlock customization options for each character as their rank increases like taunts or costumes. Each character has icons and backgrounds to unlock to be used on name plates. Your name plate is shown off before each match as the game loads. All of these things are nice, but there really isn't much incentive to unlock anything, and anything worth unlocking is done early in leveling a character.
The only other negative here is the slightly weak roster. At 20, with DLC in the future, there are some notable favorites missing that leave fans wanting more. Hopefully in the future the favorites will make their way.
Versus mode with friends can be an absolute blast and the AI is no slouch. Sly Cooper at a hard difficulty is one AI that is a complete powerhouse and will test your ability of the game. The game runs perfectly at 60 frames, where sometimes you lose track of your character as he gets knocked around the arena.
The online component is truly the bread and butter of the game. You play ranked matches or unranked of Free-for-all or 2 versus 2. Here the practice in solo mode or versus mode really helps you shine when you go up against real opponents. The cross-play aspect is really cool, never know if you're playing someone on PS3 or vita, and getting into a match is quick. I had very few network problems, a few disconnects I believe caused by someone leaving the room after losing. I experienced one match with invisible players in a 4 person FFA match. For the most part, there were no real issues.
The Tournament mode is set by a season. A season lasts about 2 weeks, and your focus is to play well enough to make a belt rank. The belt ranks you might notice are blue, green, orange, red, purple, and black. At the end of the season if you land on a certain color like green or black, you can unlock a title that goes on your name template to show people before the match. Each belt rank is out of 100, each time you win a match you might go up a few points on that belt. And if you lose or lose badly, you will lose rank on that belt.
For those who aren't interested in rank, the unranked is just as fun. Especially with a buddy next to you. You can take one friend with you online to fight or invite friends online for some fun unranked action. The thrill of online is trying to measure up to those that are really good. Matches can be really intense and luckily the netcode is solid. PSASBR plays well online, and will be great for those that are big into multiplayer.
Superbot did an incredible job on their first attempt. This game will have you hooked for hours, it will have you trying to master your favorite All-Star so when you go up against your friends or the online community, they won't stand a chance. The gameplay is fluid and deep. You won't win matches against a good player by just spamming square. The game requires timing and precision, and rewards you for getting better. You won't easily pull off a level one super on an opponent who has been around the block a few times. You have to pick and choose when to unleash your super attacks, at just the right moment or risk wasting your meter and potentially losing the match. Those looking for a fun game that is a bit different than the traditional fighter, look no further.
+ Good fighting mechanics
+ Characters play like they would from their respective franchise
+ The little details from mannerisms to franchise music
+ Cross-play works well, online is a solid experience with good netcode
- Lack of customization and unlocks. Most items are easily unlocked and not much to unlock.
- Arcade mode feels incredibly empty, could have used a little more variety and a proper boss fight.
- Roster that is missing some notable favorites.
Final Score: 8.5