It’s clear from the outset what Sony is trying to do with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It has seen the success of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, and the resurgence of Capcom’s line of fighting mash-ups, and has decided it wants in on the action.
It’s not exactly a noble goal, but it’s one that developer SuperBot Entertainment has pursued with aplomb. This isn’t a subtle or refined game, but one derived from brute force and blunt objects. Its swagger a combination of explosive backdrops and overblown super moves.
The character roster is impressive, spanning Sony’s nearly two decade stint at the top of the console ladder. New guns like the reimagined Dante from the upcoming DmC Devil May Cry reboot and cyborg Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance trade punches with the likes of PaRappa the Rapper and Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal.
The violence is fast and frantic, with three of the face buttons controlling punches and kicks and the fourth letting you leap into the air. The left shoulder button blocks and dodges, while the right unleashes your super special finishing move.
There are three levels of finisher, which you build up by doling out blows to the other pugilists. The first level is a little weedy (but effective if you use it at the right time), the second adds a few fireworks, and the third is a technicolour explosion that unleashes hell on anyone unlucky enough to be stood in front of it.
If these super moves connect with a foe, they’re knocked out of the game for a brief period and you score a kill. There are different victory conditions depending on what sort of game you’re playing, but the basic rule is whoever has the most kills at the end of the round is going be there, or thereabouts, in the final shake-up.
In single-player the rhythm of the action is a little dull. You’ll often find yourself mashing buttons, already well ahead of the pack, waiting for the clock to tick down so you can move onto the next arena and the next set of famous faces to punch.
Multiplayer bouts are far more entertaining, and more likely to end in gratuitous blasphemy as someone steals the win from under your nose with a last second super explosion. Online play is smooth, and the cross-play option between PS Vita and PS3 means you’ll always be able to find a game.
PS All-Stars certainly has its moments then, although you’ll mainly find them in the online section of the game. There are plenty of fight cards and costumes to unlock as you brawl through the game, but getting them all can feel an awful lot like a slog.
In the end, Sony has achieved what it set out to: a fun multiplayer game that you’re likely to pull out at parties when the drinks are flowing and the ‘who would win in a fight…?’ questions are bouncing around the room.
It’s not revolutionary, and it’s far from perfect as a solo spectacle, but it follows a successful formula and gets the job done.
By Harry Slater
Format: PS3, PS Vita
Developer: SuperBot Entertainment