Sunday, October 21, 2012

NYCC 2012: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Impressions

Let’s be honest here; PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale exists because Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros series is a huge seller. To be fair, the idea of a PlayStation version of Smash Bros has been a game PlayStation fans have been wanting for a while now. It only makes sense for Sony to give the fans what they want. With that in mind, I decided to try the game out at New York Comic Con with an open mind. After playing the game, I can say that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is not a Smash Bros clone. Unfortunately, I can’t say it’s as good as Smash Bros, either.

My biggest problem with the game largely revolves around its finisher mechanic. In the game, you have to attack your opponent(s) in order to build up your power meter. When your meter gets full, you gain a level. After you get at least a level, you are able to perform a finisher specific to your character. Each character has three finishing moves that require 1-3 levels to activate. Each level finisher gives you a larger range and duration to attack your opponents. My problem is that the finishers are the only way to eliminate your opponents. You have no heath or damage meter, so even if you slightly touch someone else’s finisher you get eliminated. And to make things worse, eliminated players just disappear. There’s no explosion or any sense of impact when you hit someone with a finisher. It’s very unsatisfying.

Control wise, Battle Royale uses the shape buttons for jumping and attacking in a style that makes it feel more like a basic 2D fighting game (despite being a brawler). Each character has their own move set of basic button combinations, but since I didn't have the ability to look any of them up, I was mostly experimenting as I went. In a similar fashion to Smash Bros, random items will appear on the ground for you to attack other characters with. Surprisingly, the drop rate was very low for my play session. I only got to pick up a rocket launcher, which does exactly what you think it does.

I will say this; the stages I saw all very nice. I love the idea of mixing games together and they all look good. It’s also good to see that the stages are capable of damaging you (damage lowers your power meter), giving you an extra element to watch out for when you play.

In my play session, I played as Jak and Daxter using a PS3 controller. They had some PSVitas as controllers, but I made sure to avoid them. What’s interesting to note is that the Vita users had to select their characters via the Vita’s touch screen despite the TV being right in front of them. I noticed some people had difficulty grasping the concept. I hope that gets changed in the final product.

I played in a four player, 3 minute match and left very disappointed with the game. It felt like, due to the importance of the power meter, defense was nearly non-important and I just had to attack all the time. When the game ended I was declared the winner, but it didn't feel like I really did anything. I just jumped around, attacked, and accidentally hit someone with my finisher. It didn't feel like there was any strategy at all. Like I said; very disappointed.

I really did want to like this game. The problem is; I just couldn't. Based on what I played and saw in person, the game right now lacks a sense of impact (or smash, if you would) that is really needed for games like these. Hopefully, the upcoming open beta will change my mind on the matter. It would be a shame if PlayStation All-Stars turns out to be a mediocre, boring game that tried too hard to not be a clone of the game it’s obviously inspired by.

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