Allen Kesinger's Hand's On
In a well furnished room of the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, Sony’s Santa Monica Studios revealed a playable version of their upcoming brawler, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. A celebration of the PlayStation brand, the game will allow players to control characters from Sony’ library of games and pit them against one another in wild and frenzied combat. The version of the game on hand offered an eclectic roster of six characters: Killzone 2’s Col. Radec, the corpulent princess from Fat Princess, God of War’s Kratos, Parappa from Parappa the Rapper, Twisted Metal’s Sweet Tooth and Sly Cooper from Thievius Raccoonus. The grand melees take place in one of four PlayStation-themed arenas that offered some interesting surprises that make each area dynamic and exciting.
Each arena is a mashup of different PlayStation properties. For example, Sandover Village from Jak and Daxter mashes up with Hot Shots Golf and Hades from God of War 3 shares space with the PSP rhythm game, Patapon. The most interesting arena mashup, by far, is the Little Big Planet/BUZZ! Trivia level, where platforms and other structures are called in from the Poppit and combat is interrupted by a spontaneous trivia game from the quiz master himself. As delightful as these arenas are, they end up being incredibly distracting. While it’s cool to see the introduction from Jak II play out from a different perspective, I found myself getting roundly beaten from other players because I was too busy taking in the sights.
The other journalists in the room seemed to be enjoying themselves with the brawler, but everyone couldn’t help but acknowledge the elephant in the room: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is, for all intents and purposes, a Sony branded Super Smash Bros. Everything, from the character select screen, large, interactive environments and UI, resembles the Nintendo brawler. All four players will duke it out with one another in order to build up a three stage attack meter, each allowing the player to unleash an powerful attack that will kill those unfortunate to end up in its path. There was some confusion over how damage is dealt to other players. There are no life bars, so the only way to kill an opponent is to strike them with a power attack. The number of kills and respawns are totaled at the end of the three minute round and whoever has the highest KOs is declared the winner.
There were some balancing issues among the six playable characters. While the developers pointed out the differences in play style across all six characters, Kratos quickly became a favorite for his long reach and powerful attacks while Parappa the Rapper’s stage three power attack appeared decidedly unfair due to its ability to instant kill everyone on the screen. Sweet Tooth and Col. Radec offered some fairly strong attacks, but both are sluggish to move. The lack of any sort of quick dash function is inhibiting for those choosing to play as the bulkier fighters. Throughout the course of the session, Sly, Kratos and Parappa ended up being the most used fighters, leaving Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess and Radec to sulk on the sidelines.
One would hope that the SCE Santa Monica will be adding to their roster of fighters and arenas. As it stands, PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale won’t make it far in its current form. Tweaks need to be made to the existing fighters in order to strive for a healthy balance.
Joel Szerlip's Follow-Up Hands On
Secrets are really hard to keep. Especially in the video game industry. In the past few weeks we have been hearing a lot of rumors that the game formerly known as Battle Royale was resurfacing. So going into this press event both Allen and I were pretty sure that Sony would be showing off Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale and sure enough that was the case. It was hard not to draw parallels right from first glance to Smash Bros. but then again that's probably not a bad thing.
To give you some perspective I think I played 10-15 matches in my time at the press event. I played as all the characters that Allen already went through, and played each map multiple times. So I can say without a doubt that I got enough time in with the game to garner an opinion on how the game is shaping up. One of the big confusions I heard during multiple play sessions was the lack of a health meter. Well according to the development team there currently isn't a health bar but instead the goal is to build up your meter to use special attacks which are how you get KO's against your opponents.
The other big difference between All-Stars and Smash Bros. was how interactive the levels are. There is just a ton of stuff happening while your fighting. In fact there is so much happening while your fighting that it can become extremely distracting. There were several times that I lost track of my character and just watched the level transform in front of my very eyes. What this does however is stop someone from using one strategy and makes you have to change how you play half way through the round. One thing that stood out to me more then anything was how beautiful the game looked. Seeing a bunch of our favorite Sony characters fight off against each other in beautiful environments was pretty incredible. I for one really enjoyed the use of color and the very detailed environments which help bring each level to life.
There is still a lot of work for the SuperBot Entertainment to do before the game is released. As Allen mentioned balancing seems to still be an issue. At the press event there was a tournament that took place and the final round showed three people selecting Parappa and one taking Kratos. So I am sure there is still some work to be done in the balancing arena. There is also no way to tell who is winning and who is loosing during the round and the hope is that they address that before the game is released. It will be interesting to see what SuperBot is able to do before the game is released.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.