As Parappa enthusiastically states upon his respawn, "Get ready to believe!" The newest beta for PlayStation All-Stars, available to PlayStation Plus members, is the most enjoyable and improved version yet. The "Sony Smash" moniker can now rest in peace, as one match in this beta will convince any player that this is much more than a clone. Characters have been re-balanced, many bugs have been fixed, the graphics look to have been updated, and small miscellaneous changes have been made to make the game more fun and presentable. Chaotic 4 player free-for-alls, as well as team battles are supported in the beta. Cross-play is supported, and Vita owners are thrown into the action with no discrimination (or lag).
The fundamentals of the game haven’t changed. Players will batter their friends or foes using PlayStation’s most iconic characters and gain AP when they attack. Characters don’t receive damage, and can only be killed by the use of a super attack, gained by collecting AP. Players can save their AP and go for Level 2, or Level 3 supers that are even more devastating and often earn more kills. The square button serves as the basic attack button, triangle is strong attack, circle is special attack, X is jump, L1 is block, L2 is taunt, R1 picks up items, R2 performs super attacks, and flicking the right analog stick in the direction of an opponent you’re touching activates a grab.
Kratos, Parappa, Sly, Radec, Fat Princess, and Sweet Tooth are the available playable characters. Everyone seems to be balanced incredibly well. All characters have their pros and cons, and though you’ll mostly see Kratos when you play online free-for-alls, it’s not because he’s the best character. Kratos is great mid-range and is excellent at taking care of a crowd, though he’s often left open to punishment upon not connecting with an attack. Parappa has excellent mobility and an excellent close-range combo game, but can be held back by characters with more reach like Kratos. Every character’s movelist seems very natural and they all come from their games and history. The combat feels great, and the way attacks connect feels solid. Amateur players will enjoy tossing out the impressive moves of the PlayStation icons, and pros will be evading, blocking, and finding combos that provide up to 135 AP.
The two stages that matches are played on are Metropolis from Ratchet and Clank, and Hades from God of War. Both levels have hazards and change drastically as you play. The Metropolis level is invaded by the Hydra from God of War, the floor’s conveyor belt begins to move, and the middle of the stage becomes a spike pit. The Hades level resembles his lair for God of War 3, and the angry god will attack the stage with his blades, stunning characters for around 5 seconds. As the match goes on, warriors from Patapon will come and attack Hades, some of their spears falling on the stage as well, providing another hazard that will knock AP out of players.
The beta feels polished, combat is addictive and fun, and the stages and characters are excellent representations of their respective series. Cool little touches like characters exploding into triangles, circles, xs, and squares are nice, and help hint that this game will be packed with content providing nods to everything that’s made PlayStation the cultural force and gaming phenomenon it’s become. Our only worry as of now, is the net code. There’s hardly ever any lag, mind you, it’s just that matches that go into overtime often lose connection, and sometimes players who join later than others won’t appear on the battlefield until the match is at its end. Of course, this isn’t completely indicative of the finished title, as the game’s servers aren’t as set in stone as the combat, characters, gameplay and other content that will be shipped out on November 20. For PlayStation 3 and Vita owners who aren’t PlayStation Plus members, the beta will open to everyone later today. Check out Sony’s new live action trailer for the mash-up here.