â€śWhatâ€™s the next game youâ€™re reviewing after this one?â€ť asked my girlfriend. â€śFar Cry 3â€ť. â€śOh, do you need me to beat you at that too?â€ť It is amazing how quickly new players learn smack talk.
Less than ten minutes after picking up PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, she was already schooling me, including, at one point, a twelve kill to zero thumping. This is the joy of PSASBR; less the fun of seeing Sackboy beat up Kratos and more the thrill of new players quickly gaining skills to master the game.
The screams of delight in my house as we pulled off multiple kills or cries as our special attacks missed reminded me of multiplayer games gone by. This was fun, goddammit!
PSASBR is obviously the Sony equivalent of Nintendoâ€™s Super Smash Bros. But whereas Nintendo has a large number of fun cartoony characters, Sonyâ€™s stable is filled with a lot of serious, technical, and often gun-wielding types. However, the balance that has been struck is remarkably good. For every Raiden there is a Sly Cooper.
The characters from less violent games still have excellent attacks that are not out of step with their attitude. Sackboy, for example, uses stickers and objects from LittleBigPlanetâ€™s creation menu as tools and weapons.
Within the game there are various modes. You mostly spend your time in the Tournament, Arcade, and Versus modes.
Arcade gives each character a story play through. This can be odd, as characters like Kratos send themselves on quests to battle heroes and test their skills against the best, while Parappa the Rapper just wants to be a comic hero and somehow ends up fighting Helghast.
The battle before the boss is where each character fights their opposite. Sometimes this is the perfect comedic foil - Jak and Daxter vs Ratchet and Clank - and sometimes it makes no sense - Kratos vs Sweet Tooth.
Tournament offers up matched and unmatched games. You can invite friends to play or the system will just hook you up with randoms. Each â€śseasonâ€ť lasts about a month. So if you are only hitting your stride at the end, donâ€™t worry. Oddly, online play isnâ€™t as much fun as having other people in the room with you hurling trash talk back and forth (which can be done using Versus mode).
There is something to be said for the lack of female characters. The current roster (assuming thereâ€™s no interesting DLC on the horizon) is Fat Princess and Nariko from Heavenly Sword (a game released in 2007 when the PS3 first came out). Itâ€™s not a huge deal breaker but surely there was a female Tekken character they couldâ€™ve added [Or someone from Final Fantasy... - Ed.]
The levels are fantastic. Each one is a mix of two different games. The Helghast invade Parappaâ€™s dojo, while Nathan Drakesâ€™ plane escape scene gets visited by the floating city from Bioshock Infinite. Throughout the levels there are hazards usually set up by the invading gameâ€™s characters. There are also pickups that players can equip to inflict damage on opponents and gain AP (the points you need to pull off special moves).
Thereâ€™s not a whole lot of depth to PSASBR, but there is definitely some subtlety to how and when to execute moves. Frustration does set in when the camera zooms in and out constantly (in order to keep everyone in frame). This gets to be quite disorienting and shouts of â€śwait, where am I?â€ť were common while we were playing.
Also, some characters special moves are much harder to pull off for not much gain. Radec from Killzone, for example, needs to take his time and aim his special move, even at level one; this means he is usually hit before he can get the shot off.
The further through the game you get with each character you gain points to level up with. Each level unlocks more customisation options. These can be extra costumes, taunts, and intros but also icons and avatars for online play.
Overall PSASBR is a fun little game that will give you hours of â€śjust one more fight then so I can get evenâ€ť entertainment.