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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Beta Impressions

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has been rightly called a clone of Super Smash Bros., because that’s exactly what it is. It’s the same idea with characters from all of Sony’s franchises instead of Nintendo’s. With Microsoft only having characters from the Gears of War and Halo franchises to draw from, it falls to Sony to come up with their own unique take on the formula. The only shocking thing is that it’s taken this long for a game like this to come together, and the beta recently hit the PSN network for PlayStation Plus subscribers, but will be released to the general public shortly.

Six characters are available to choose from: Sweet Tooth, Sly Cooper, Kratos, Parappa, Radec, and Fat Princess. It’s unfortunate that there’s currently no movelist as it’s difficult to predict what each character will attack with, although every fighting style keeps within the established lore of each franchise. God of War fans will immediately recognize Kratos’ attacks with the head of Helios, Apollo’s bow, and the cestus. Sweet Tooth has an assortment of less than legal weapons such as mines, molotovs, his enormous machete, and a chainsaw.

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Radec has a cache of military-grade weapons lifted right out of Killzone such as a long-range sniper rifle and flame thrower. The more family-friendly characters like Parappa and Fat Princess use colorful attacks that emphasis the gameplay mechanics from their respective franchises like skateboards and boomboxes for Parappa while the Princess munches down on a tasty slice of cake and spawns various avatars. Sly feels like the odd man out in the group. He doesn’t really have an aggressive movelist, rather his moves are designed for sneak attacks or going unnoticed for a short while.

Out of the roster, Radec and Kratos come off as being the most overpowered of the lot. Kratos has devastating combos that constantly knock every other character off balance and Radec’s sniper rifle is so strong it’s easy to see why it’s spammed often. More balance between all the different characters is desperately needed, especially given that some have a far greater reach and damage than others.

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The beta comes with two stages that are mash-ups of several different games. One takes place in the sprawling, futuristic Metropolis of Ratchet & Clank with Captain Quark in the background posing. The idyllic scenery gradually shifts to darkened, thunderous clouds as the music gets darker and the iconic The End Begins (from God of War II), begins to play. Out of nowhere, the Hydra makes its entrance and even tries to swallow Quark whole.

Next, Hades’ lair, from God of War III, is the backdrop where the god of the underworld looms over the fighters, gradually altering the foreground and sometimes taking shots at the players. Eventually, the tone of the stage becomes less serious and more quirky as the Patapon take over with their infectious singing, much to the confusion of Hades. Both stages are pretty lively and it’ll be pretty fun to see what other mash-ups there will be in the final version.

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In terms of gameplay, like Super Smash Bros. it’s less of a traditional fighting game than it is a party game where four players wail on each other. There’s no real way to chain combos and there doesn’t seem much point in blocking. Most of the time it’s difficult to tell who did what to whom and if there’s any real strategy at work, let alone keeping track of where your character is.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale needs to work out a few kinks before it goes toe-to-toe with one of Nintendo’s most successful spin-offs. After all, they’ve been doing it since the N64 era. The balance between the characters needs to be reworked and the fighting system should be flexible enough to allow attacks to be mixed up instead of mashing the same button over and over in order to pull off a combo. If those issues can be addressed, then Sony might be able to match the success Nintendo has had with its crossover brawler for years now.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

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