PS3 Reviews: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review

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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review

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Replay Value:



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Overall Rating:       8.3






SuperBot Entertainment

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Release Date:

November 20, 2012

Although this fall doesn’t necessarily have a bona fide mainstream blockbuster exclusive for the PlayStation 3, Sony has delivered a fun, surprisingly in-depth party brawler that controls well and rewards the skilled and diligent. It’d be a mistake to assume PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is nothing but a Smash Bros. clone. Nintendo’s offering was a fun little tasty treat of relative simplicity in comparison to the robust fighting mechanic we find lurking beneath the surface in Sony’s title. Ready to throw down?

With a few eye-popping backgrounds and excellent sets, Battle Royale provides gamers with a clean, vibrant visual experience. The graphical effects are top-notch, the animations are smooth and even complex, and the best part is as follows— The amassing of multiple characters all going ballistic in a somewhat cramped arena could easily create a disconcerting visual display. That doesn’t seem to happen, though. The graphics are such that they’re not downplayed or muted; in fact, they’re crisp and take center-stage. And yet, they don’t blind the player too often, which I find to be a significant achievement.

I’m not the biggest fan of the soundtrack, as it’s not particularly inspired or especially invigorating. The music exists as a halfway decent complement, but it never really stands on its own and pushes the action forward. However, that may be intentional, as it allows the gameplay to be the focal point throughout; I just expected a bit more in the way of kickin’ tracks. On the other hand, the effects shine through nicely. They’re diverse and well-implemented, and each strike, each awesome special ability, and each crowd-pleasing combo will make your ears ring…and that, my friends, is the ring of satisfaction. Well, provided you’re the one doling out the pain.

As I said before, on the surface, this game appears to be quite simple. And there’s no doubt that the premise is indeed simple: Square off against three other opponents and attempt to emerge victorious in a battle to the finish. But the longer you play, the more you start to realize that true mastery will require time and effort, while accessibility remains high for newcomers. You use the square, circle, and triangle buttons to execute a variety of attacks, most all of which are unique to the character you have chosen. The analog stick adds another layer of intricacy, and there are even different perspectives for different fighters.

This really is a true-blue fighting game, which is what makes it so much different than Smash Bros. The fun factor remains high for just about everyone, but those who drop a fair amount of time into learning one or two characters will discover a surprisingly deep and fulfilling combat mechanic. It’s not really about old-school combos that require immense finger dexterity and reactions; it’s more about timing, strategy, and figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of very distinct characters. To start (developer SuperBot is bound to deliver more) there are 20 fighters, ranging from Nathan Drake to Cole MacGrath to Fat Princess to Sackboy to Nariko to Dante and a great many more in between.

By far the most impressive aspect of this game is the TLC exhibited in each member of the roster. They all feel drastically different, and it’s not merely because they all have different special skills. It’s also because they all move differently, attack differently, and offer the player different strategies. Not only does this demand your time and attention if you want to embrace one particular character, it also encourages experimentation because you’re always interested in mixing things up. Plus, the various stages make just about every battle feel fresh and interesting.

PlayStation fans will recognize a great many franchises in those stages; they’re inspired by the likes of Metal Gear Solid, Killzone, Hot Shots Golf, Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance, and even lesser-known franchises such as Loco Roco. Furthermore, because each stage is interactive in its own way, it contributes greatly to the combat action. You not only have to keep tabs on your opponents, you also have to keep an eye on what might be happening in the background, which makes the battles all the more engaging.

The key to success lies in the AP (All-Stars Points) system and executing world-ending super abilities by building up those points. The meter in question isn’t a health meter; rather, it’s split into three tiers and at each tier, you can unleash a character-specific skill that can deal major damage. This is a serious challenge, especially when battling two or three very capable human players. You will soon find that there’s a serious amount of strategy involved, as you’ll have to play defense while simultaneously building up your meter and preparing to own the competition. It ain’t easy but it’s pretty damn fun.

Defense really is a crucial part of the game, as you’ll have to dodge-roll, block, or simply evade a lot of incoming attacks if you want to remain relevant. Falling behind early in a match can be problematic, especially if you’re hell-bent on being overly aggressive. Mashing buttons really doesn’t work well in Battle Royale, which is always a testament to the robustness and complexity of the underlying mechanic. You have to balance your own performance with that of your opponents, you have to make split-second decisions concerning your accumulated AP, and you have to learn your chosen character’s style.

Now, all of that might sound a little daunting and truthfully, it kinda is. But isn’t that precisely what separates this game from any other party brawler out there? This allows Sony to say, “See, this is a very different animal and yet, just about anyone can pick it up and play when first starting.” Sure, the tutorials may seem a little out of place in such a game, but you’ll quickly realize they exist for a reason. It’s also important to remember that some characters just plain don’t like one another, so don’t be surprised to see some intense rivalries heating up. In short, there’s probably a lot more going on than you may have anticipated.

Unfortunately, the story mode doesn’t feel all that rewarding to me. The stories are sort of mundane and while often amusing, they clearly feel like an afterthought. The only upside is that due to the inherent diversity of the roster, you want to go through with multiple characters just to become accustomed to the extremely different styles. Still, I had hoped to find a more satisfying single-player experience. It’s obvious that this title is designed specifically for multiplayer fun and I understand that, but more could’ve been done to make the single-player action a little more compelling. I wish this didn't fall by the wayside so often.

But that multiplayer really is a blast. Getting friends in a room or playing online is always a good time and thus far, the action appears to be going forward without a hitch. I haven’t come across any significant problems, and I think it’s really cool that PS3 players can play against Vita players and vice versa. There’s a ton of customization, plenty of available (and wicked entertaining) modes, and you’ll soon find yourself losing many hours to the multiplayer goodness. This isn’t really my thing and I have to say, I might return to this from time to time. I rarely do that, so that’s saying something.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has a lot going for it. I find the single-player a tad disappointing, the learning curve can actually feel too steep for certain characters, and you may start hearing about various combat balancing issues (I’ll bet money on that). But the control is rock solid, the entertainment is always of a certain quality with virtually no glaring flaws or drawbacks, the diversity and variety of the roster is absolutely fantastic, and the multiplayer could definitely attract a great many people. I don’t think it’s the elite AAA exclusive the PS3 could’ve used, but there’s no doubt that this title is a pretty clear winner.

The Good: Pleasing, technically sound visual presentation. Top-notch graphical and audio effects. Incredibly diverse fighter roster. Deeper than expected combat mechanic. Rock solid control. Immense multiplayer fun.

The Bad: Soundtrack isn’t anything special. Single-player experience is lacking. Perceived balance issues.

The Ugly: “*%($&*!!! I was this close to my special!”

11/20/2012 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (17 posts)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 10:51:39 PM

Sounds like they put quite a bit of work and thought into this brawler.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 @ 11:08:15 PM

just got off of it myself, fun and enjoyable. money well spent on my end

Agree with this comment 3 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 12:10:46 AM

Glad other people are enjoying it :)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 12:10:23 AM

It is such an enjoyable game. I'm actually surprised about the good reviews. I kept thinking it was gonna get negative reviews with comparisons to the other game, gladly it didn't. Just beat the game with every character. Balance issues can be fixed but truth, every one of them has their weaknesses. I beat a Kratos online with toro. Toro is pretty hard to handle, the only balancing issues I would say would be Kratos forward square attack. It gathers a lot of AP and it is a homing attack!

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Solid Fantasy
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 12:30:31 AM

I knew Gamespot had there heads up there asses on this one.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 12:56:27 AM

The review scores are all over the place with this one for the most part so far. But by the looks of it, the mainly Playstation game sites are giving it good reviews, while the others aren't as much. OPM being the only real exception to that rule, as they didn't like it much.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 12:58:56 AM

The GameSpot reviewer basically just whined throughout the entire thing. Far too subjective.

And I believe all PlayStation-centric sites should score it higher, because this is designed specifically for fans of the brand. Therefore, it will automatically be better for them simply because of the characters involved.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 1:02:51 AM

Is what I expected, if they do a sequel I hope they put more on the sp, looks like I'm gonna get WWE13 over this, I'm a fan of the attitude era.

offtopic; did you people played the demo of DMC? it's on the PSN isn't good or bad just decent., I don't know if I'm the only one but the controls feels like a mess to me, and the graphics of 4 are a lot better.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 1:46:54 AM

I noticed it too. I thought it was only me. It feels off somehow. Well they are using the unreal engine and it tends to be bad on th ps3. I haven't tried it on the Xbox so I can't compare yet. The mechanics aren't as good, that about sums it up.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 9:39:10 PM

If you're a fan of the attitude era, then get your hands on Day of Reckoning, No Mercy or Fire Pro for that matter and you can pretty much create every single WWE wrestler ever.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 2:21:29 AM

I wish I had the game, it does look like a ton of fun.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 3:15:26 AM

Glad to hear positive things about this one. Maybe it will be a bit of a boost for Sony this holiday season. Still, I don't think it's for me.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 5:18:53 AM

I love how you only mention Smash once. Thank you. Everyone keeps comparing it to Smash rather than examining it on its own merits. Amazingly the Kotaku review is good and never even mentions SSB which is funny because pretty much everyone blown up the comments section about they did compare the 2 games.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 7:47:24 AM

Lol oh I read that one too. But at least a few major sites reviewed it well instead of just whining. Destructoid gave it a 9 surprisingly enough. They said it was a great game.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 12:15:48 PM

Great review. However, one thing bothers me:

"Nintendo’s offering was a fun little tasty treat of relative simplicity in comparison to the robust fighting mechanic we find lurking beneath the surface in Sony’s title."

While I have little doubts to the depth of PSABR (I'm picking it up this weekend), please try not to dismiss Smash Bros. as a simple brawler; if anything, it's just as robust in fighting mechanics as its Sony counterpart. I know this is a playstation-centric site but let's not make baseless assumptions :)

In any case, I look forward to playing this!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 @ 1:39:24 PM

Half truth I guess. The main thing going for all stars are combos. They may play "similarly" but that is where it draws the line. This game is aimed at fighting fans and can compete better than melee or brawl would. I'm a fan of clockwork and his fighting prowess at competitions. So I am glad he helped develop this game to make it compete.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013 @ 2:06:31 PM

obviously a lot a cool characters arent in the game hope there's some serious DLC soon
a Chimera from the Resistance would be nice

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