[Eurogamer] First Impressions With Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
I wasn’t prepared to expect much from this game, to be honest. When I first seen the trailers for this game, all that was going through my mind was ‘Oh, this is like Super Smash Bros‘. That’s not a bad thing in itself, because that game is fantastic, but I was all but ready to slate PS:ASBR for being inferior. So, when I tell you that I spent an hour longer than I had planned playing against other people at the booth in Eurogamer, it should show how much I enjoyed it.
I still think the acronym isn’t as catchy, though.
Starting with the bigger differences, the main way to kill people in PS:ASBR is to lay the smackdown with special abilities. You have three levels of abilities in increasing strength, mimicking the style of Marvel vs. Capcom‘s abilities. Generally, the first level is a close-range move, moving up to a map-wide ability for the second level, and the third level – the character’s ultimate – is an ability that more or less gives the player at least three free kills. For example, Raiden’s ultimate forces everyone to hide under stationary cardboard boxes, alongside some decoys, leaving Raiden to one-hit kill whatever he likes for about ten seconds.
To power these abilities, you need to gain energy balls that can be dropped by other players, items or gained innately through fighting. You might be thinking ‘Oh, I’ll just get my ultimate and then pwn everything’, but waiting out for too long might end up with missing out on a lot of kills. It’s more tactical than it appears.
Controls are fairly easy to grasp, and don’t stray too far from Nintendo’s formula. Blocking, heavy and light attacks, grapples and special moves all feature in the game. Yes, you can taunt, too.
The levels are inventive and are far less static than Nintendo’s well-known offering. One of my favourites was the LittleBigPlanet choice, whereby the level is built around the players. At one point, Buzz (star of eponymous game, Buzz!) appears and asks players a question, seemingly focused around general knowledge as well as gaming trivia. Various platforms represent the four answers, and players have to pick the correct answer to avoid getting splatted by pies and losing some of their ability power. They have to do this whilst fighting, of course.
I played around with various characters that caught my eye. Everyone’s going to have different tastes, but my three main favourites were Toro (Playstation’s Japanese mascot), Big Daddy and Sly Cooper.
Toro, the cartoon cat on a quest to become more human, has an ability to shapeshift into three different playstyles: karate-cat, a caveman and a ninja. I think. Karate-Cat attacks quickly, Caveman obliterates everything with a hammer and Ninja teleports and slides everywhere. It’s great to adapt to different situations. It’s also great playing as a cat.
Big Daddy (of Bioshock fame) is the Donkey Kong of the game, right down to the FLOOR SMASH RAGE move. I like him because of this alone. It’s quite intimidating to play against, especially when he has his level 2 special, which consists of going-batshit-insane-and-charging-around-really-fast-instakilling-anyone-he-hits.
Sly Cooper, however, is my number one favourite. He has great mobility and can leave traps everywhere. very good, yes, but that’s not why I love him. I love him because he goes practically invisible, Player 1/2/3/4 tag and all, when holding the Block button, instead of defending. He can even move as normal when invisible, too. The only distinctive feature is his weapon floating about. I tried pressing this button in the middle of a match during Eurogamer just for the hell of it, and instantly had tonnes more fun because of it. I could get out of situations easily by hiding away, and I could time a special attack by waiting around for people to group up. About to get shot by a rocket? Not if you’re not there!
The game was regularly crowded with players during Eurogamer. It wasn’t just me who was surprised with the game. People approached with sarcasm and scepticism, only to end up saying ‘just one more game!’ later on.
However, I have one big gripe with the game, and it’s with the choice of characters. Two of the characters are from games that have yet to be released, whilst classic Playstation mascots – Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, for example – have been omitted. I can’t fathom why Sony would leave these characters out, unless it is down to some sort of legal dispute. Ask anyone under the age of 25-ish what games they played as a kid, and they’ll probably reply with those two characters. The early games, because they were the best.
If Nintendo had left out Mario or Link in any future Super Smash Bros games they make, they’d be lynched. They’re characters that fans can identify with as representative of a brand. If Sony’s aim was to get people to buy this game from the choice of characters available, they missed two big mascot-shaped chances. As a result, PS: ASBR‘s roster is left lacking.
Still, if you have friends, this is a great choice. It has yet to be seen how much content the game has to keep players hooked for longer than a few hours, but multiplayer matches are without doubt very satisfying indeed. For people buying PS Vitas, they’re also fully compatible and can be used as controllers for the main game. They don’t bring you any real tactical advantage whatsoever, but the feature is there.