Review by bass4driveshaft
"Fun to be had for the casual gamer. For the hardcore..."
Let me begin by saying the game is fun. Invite some friends over, choose your favorite Playstation character and have at it! My score of 7 is an average of two different views points. For the casual gamer, I give the game an 8. There is a lot of fun to be had stomping around as one of 20 (plus future DLC) characters spanning the history of Sony's powerhouse Playstation lineup. It is approachable and easy to jump into. For the hardcore gamer, however, there are just too many flaws to really recommend this as a legitimate fighting game. So for the hardcore, I would score it more on the lower side of a 6. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale (henceforth referred to as PSASBR) inevitably invites comparison to Nintendo's wildly successful Smash Bros. series. They are both a melting pot of popular characters thrown into a structured competitive fighting game. The similarities, however, end there. In fact, it is obvious that great measures were taken to avoid the comparisons. Unfortunately, this results in many forced mechanics that don't work as well as they should. Blatantly ripping off Smash Bros. playstyle would have invited plenty of controversy, but also might have made PSASBR a better game. Considering how small the game is compared to some other AAA titles, it really is disappointing how much more COULD have been done to make the game bigger and better- starting with the cast. While 20 playable characters is certainly adequate, it feels like with the stable of stars that Sony has at their disposal, 20 is laughably low. Future DLC is a no-brainer, with 2 new characters already being announced for an early-January release, however the selection seems comparatively bare. Notable absences include Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, any characters from PlayStation's exclusive Final Fantasy games, and Aya Brea from Parasite Eve. At a $60 price tag, I was left feeling like I overpaid for something that seems like it should have been a downloadable title.
The game is pretty. There are a lot of vibrant colors to the level design and all of the characters have been accurately represented. The lack of a full 1080p presentation at this point in the console generation is disappointing, however. The menu design is functional but relatively boring and straight-forward. For those who pre-ordered their copy of the game, bonus costumes for most characters are your reward. Which brings you to a total of 3 costumes per character- their default look, one unlocked through playing as each character, and the pre-order bonuses. The standard color palate swap is available (though limited to preset sets of colors), but with a game consisting of such a high level caliber cast, I expected more than just one unlockable costume per character.
I wish I could score the game higher in this category. I tried very hard to love this game but as the hours whittled away, I noticed more and more glaring problems with the fighting mechanics. First and foremost are the special attacks. Characters take no "damage" in the conventional sense. Beating on your opponents rewards you with AP. As you fill up your AP Gauge, you can choose to release one of three special attacks. Special attacks are commonplace these days in a fighting game, but in PSASBR they are literally the only way to win. This can potentially result in minutes of flawless fighting ultimately meaning nothing because of one missed attack. Dodging and grabbing are poorly implemented. More often than not, after a dodge you are left facing away from your opponent. There is aerial dodging but it is only an in-place dodge, which usually means you are just delaying an inevitable attack from below. Grabs are usually effective, but at times hit detection seems a bit off, and if timed correctly, you can be grabbed out of a dodge. The game modes offered are standard fare, but fun in their own rights. The arcade mode for each character is paced very well. You can start with a character you've never played before and have a decent grasp on how they work by the end. Each character has "boss" battle near the end of their story with another character. Many of the interactions are oozing with humor and references, which are almost always amusing.
There is nothing wrong with the local multiplayer. There are plenty of options to tweak, such as AP regeneration rate, time-based or kill-based games, level hazards, and specific battle item lists. The problem with multiplayer is that none of that extends to the online multiplayer. Online matchmaking is limited to solo/duo, items on/off, and stock/kill matches. Want to choose which level to play on? Sorry, not available. Level hazards? Always on. Why customized online multiplayer was left completely off I will never know, but the truly perplexing part is the "ranked" matches. Ranked matches are meant to be tests of skill. In PSASBR, items, hazards, and annoying levels are all very much active, meaning climbing the leaderboards is just as much based on luck as it is skill. I don't see the online community remaining as large as it is now for long. In a few months it will probably just consist of the most die-hard Playstation fans and trophy hunters.
The voice acting is generally on par with the core game each character is from, which is one of the highlights of the game. The diversity in music leaves much to be desired. Different tracks can be unlocked by leveling up characters, but they are strictly used as victory music. This means you are stuck hearing the same PSASBR-original over and over during every match. Being able to hear the music you've unlocked DURING matches would be great, but alas. The character select music never changes, and the dance-pop opening song that plays during every loading screen will have you scratching your ears off after the first hour.
I would like to reiterate that PSASBR IS in fact a fun game, despite how this review may seem. It is a decent game that had the potential to be great. If Sony hadn't tried so hard to avoid any similarities to Smash Bros. and just let the game come together naturally, many of the problems PSASBR has may have become obvious early on in the development stage. I recommend the game, but if you don't care much for the online component, it may be worth waiting for a price drop.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/12
Game Release: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (US, 11/20/12)
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