Remember as a kid you would imagine how some of your favorite video game characters would fare if they were to meet in a fictional battle? Well imagine no more as Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale makes it possible by pitting some of Playstation’s favorite franchises in an epic battle. Think Tekken meets Mortal Kombat complete with a PG-13 rating.
Launching with 20 characters out the box, you’ll be able to use icons like Nathan Drake (Uncharted), Kratos (God of War) and Ratchet (Ratchet and Clank) against each other in 14 dynamic environments. Just who is responsible for this gathering of all-stars is one of the game’s charms as you’ll have to play thru it to find out. Just because the characters are out of their original genre, they’re not out of their element. Each fighter was designed to remain true to their play style. You’ll see Kratos’ blades whirl into classic attacks straight from the GOW franchise, and Sly Cooper brings his strategic style to the battle ground. While the goal like any typical fighter is to murk your opponent, PASBR puts a twist on it by incorporating something called All-Star Power (AP). AP is acquired by attacking foes and through using certain moves and items. When you land attacks, you earn AP. Short fast attacks are the safest but earn the smallest amounts of AP. The slower heavy attacks do more damage but the AP gain is much greater. Only until you build your fighter’s AP will you be able to execute a kill by performing Super attacks. Super attacks are divided into 3 levels with level 3 being the most deadliest and effective. I found the AP brought a strategic element to the game as you’ll have to be extremely careful about when to use your Super attacks because if your opponent successfully avoids them, you’ll have to start all over again building up your AP. Some characters like the Fat Princess’ Level 3 Super attack are unavoidable and wipe everything out on the screen. You’ll find yourself trying to build up hers to Level 3 quite often as it is by far the most effective of her kills. Every character uses the same basic inputs to attack, square, triangle or circle. Pressing any of these buttons on their own or combined with the directional pad results in a different attack. Discovering each character’s combo is a matter of getting into practice mode and experimenting. Blocking is also another important strategy you’ll need to incorporate because the attacks can come fast and furious. You can pull off dodge rolls by blocking and holding left or right on the directional pad and you’ll be briefly invulnerable to attacks, even Supers. The AP required to reach each level of the Super Meter is different for each character with the exponential increase in the amount of AP needed for higher levels is the same for everyone. Level 2 requires more AP than it took to reach Level 1, and Level 3 requires more AP than it took to reach level 2.
There are quite a few game modes for you to choose from to including local and online multiplayer where you can invite friends to your beat-down party. Single player is where to find all of the offerings available in the game and there are three levels of difficulty: Hero, Legend and All-Star. This is where you’ll also find the Combat Trials, Practice Mode and a tutorial. Multiplayer mode is where the maximum fun is to be had. In versus mode up to four players can jump into the arena (offline or online) and duke it out. The only drawback is it can get confusing to track your character with all that chaos going on at once. Small gripe aside it was dope being able to form allegiances then double cross your alley and go for the kill without warning.
Graphically PASBR boasts some really rich and vibrant colors but it’s the background levels that steal the show. The levels are incredibly detailed, filled with a bounty of Hazards, mash-ups and hidden Easter eggs for players to discover. Each level evolves as the match goes on, changing elements from platform layouts to environmental traps and eventually emerging two game worlds into one. You might start off battling in the sky-city of Columbia from Bioshock Infinite, but the Doll Face from Twisted Metal appears in her Maiden battle mech to wreck havoc on everyone with missiles and napalm shots. At times I found myself watching the levels transform, momentarily taking my eye off the opponent and paying for it with a blade to the grill. They can take a bow for this one, very nicely done.
The Bottom Line: Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale lives up to its name. Non-stop action, dope single and multiplayer modes and the first ever Playstation title to support Cross-Play features as Vita and Playstation 3 owners will be able to compete against each other. While geared more for the younger gamer, I suspect older heads will want to get in on the fun as well. The only thing missing was the shorty Mega-Man’s invite to the rumble, maybe next time.