Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review #314: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

 The first worthy rival to Smash?
 When it comes to games trying to be like Super Smash Bros, I feel like none has ever come close. And then came Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. What is PASBR? It's four on four fighting game, with simple controls, stage hazards and items to grab and cause havoc on the arena. Just like Smash, there's no life bars here, but instead of having to throw combatants off the platform, you have to land Special attacks to score points. Something to keep in mind, buying the PS3 version allows you to link the disc to your account, which nets you a free downloadable copy on the PSVita!

 When it comes to modes, the game skimps out a bit when compared to the competition. There's Tournament Mode, which is online only and seems to reset every few weeks or so, Offline and Online VS, which can be played against up to three CPUs as well. As for Single Player, there're Trials, a 'general' set of trials as well as trials specific to each character... although they are more or less the same to be honest. Then there's Practice, Tutorial and Arcade, Arcade having unique, fully voiced, intros and endings for each character, even the four DLC characters. Mind you, their stories are nothing to write home about, but they bothered to do them, which is nice. I didn't play the Arcade Mode on the PS3 as much as I did on the Vita, but on the Vita version, every now and then, the Arcade Mode would glitch and I would get no voice overs during the intros, endings and rival cutscenes, and no music during fights.
 The game offers 20 characters, plus 4 DLC characters. As far as DLC characters is concerned, the first two were free for a limited time, and the latter 2 could be gotten for free by buying one of the God of War games, so it's not too bad. Each character also comes with an unlockable costume, as well as purchasable costumes. Normally, I wouldn't complain about cosmetic DLC, like costumes, but Sony went out of their way to be as much in-your-face as possible with it. Going to a character's profile will have the costume listed, with the unlock condition being 'purchase at the Store'. Selecting a character will allow you to go through a character's DLC costume, alongside a conveniently placed button that takes you to the store. CPUs may wear DLC costumes during battles as well. It's incredibly tacky, and feels like Sony is constantly tugging at your wallet, trying to make you cave in and purchase those costumes, which I find it to be ArkSys-level disgusting. That aside, the character roster leaves a bit to be desired as well. Where's Crash? Spyro? They defined Playstation during its first console. And what is a Big Daddy or Isaac Clark doing here? If you were gonna have third party characters at least add characters like Lara Croft, who was synonymous with Playstation back in the day(Even though her games were on PC as well!), So yeah, the roster could've been better, plus, I feel like none of these characters have as much star power as Nintendo's classics, though maybe that's just the Nintendo fanboy in me talking.

 When it comes to gameplay, you have three attack buttons at your disposal: Triangle, Square and Circle, and holding different directions when pressing the buttons performs different attacks, for a total of 15 different attacks per character, not counting the aerial attacks. Something that I thought was genius, due to how simple yet fun to perform is, was having throws being done by tapping the right analog stick! IT works fantastically and made throws fun to use! L button guards, and tapping a direction in conjunction with it performs a dodge, there's even aerial dodges! Lastly, the R button performs the special attacks. Controls, as a whole, are spot on, and characters have diverse movesets. Plus, the overall 'feel' of the game is very, very tight. No other Smash-like game has gotten the physics so right before, movement is as fast and as loose as a game like this requires, and the physics are floaty enough as to allow for aerial combos, but it doesn't feel awkward. It's hard to explain, but if you play... say, Cartoon Network Punchtime Explosion and then Playstaton ASBR, you'll notice how much better it feels.
 Landing attacks doesn't cause damage, but instead increases your AP meter, which has three levels, each one corresponding to a different Special Attacks. And landing these are the only way to score points. Special Attacks are very different between each other, but as a general rule, Level 1 Specials are hard to land, and easy for enemies to hit you before you land them and thus cancel them, Level 2 Specials are instantaneous and cover a wide area while Level 3 affects every enemy. Honestly, I felt like Specials were a bit uneven, both between character and between the specials themselves on a single character. Take Heihachi's level 3, he instantly kills everyone for a total of 3 points, and that's it. While Isaac's or Sackboy's gives enemies a chance to avoid it, but allows you to score even more points! But let's go back to Heihach, his level 2 has the potential to net you more than three points, since it's active for a while, in which Kuma comes to aid you, and any enemy he attacks, he instantly kills for an extra point. And if you have two levels on the AP gauge, you can't just use a level 1 special twice, you have to use the level 2. Still, it's a bit of a conundrum, I feel. If you make all the Special attacks identical between characters, then you lose individuality, but in this case some Specials are blatantly better than others. And you could argue that Smash Bros Final Smashes have the same issue, which is true, but Final Smashes aren't as integral to scoring points as specials are on this game. But I digress, I think, considering how the game works, they did the best they could.

 And you gotta give them bonus points for the Stages, each stage is a fusion of two franchises. God of War and Patapon, Parappa the Rappa and Metal Gear, Ape Escape and Killzone, etc. And yes, there's a ton of clashing between visual styles, but it's not jarring, it's fun, specially if you know what comes from what franchise! And using a character nets you points, and as you 'level up' your rank, you unlock an extra costume, more taunt, more victory music, more victory poses, etc. It's a lot of extras for each individual character!
 Alright, so the PS3 is the ideal version to play the game, but only because it looks better. And offline multiplayer. And I mean that, the Vita version, while it doesn't look as good, runs very smoothly, and it has everything the PS3 version has, only that the graphics aren't as good. Loading times, on the Vita, can also be a bit long, but it's not too bad.

 I feel like Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is the first worthy rival to Smash Bros. It feels really good, controls are tight, and a lot of creativity went into the different stages and character movesets. The Character roster could've been a bit better, there're a bit too many guns(Radic, Drake, Dante, Ratchet, Jak, Isaac and Sweet Tooth all have guns as part of their movesets!) and not enough iconic characters(Big Daddy? Isaac? New Dante over Classic Dante?(And I liked new Dante!) Raiden? Gimme Crash, Lara Croft, Solid Snake, how about a Final Fantasy rep?) Still, overall it's a fun Smash-like fighter, with a bit less party, but a bit more 'fighty' feel to it.
 8.0 out of 10

No comments:

Post a Comment