PS3A Writer’s GOTY: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
This past year has been one filled with a broad array of impressive games. Both disc-only and downloadable exclusives have proven to offer some of the highest quality entertainment we’ve ever experienced. But only one game really captured my attention and gave me reason enough to play over and over again, and that was PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
I’m comfortable with making a few enemies when I say that I’ve had enough of the RPGs and shooters the other guys are gushing about. Its now time to feature the year’s best fighting game that just so happens to be a PlayStation exclusive. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PSASBR) has great characters from PlayStation’s past and present, extremely detailed living levels and backgrounds, and some really solid fighting game mechanics; it’s all about the Supers!
Out of all of those accomplishments, the most fascinating part of PSASBR is the character selection. Seeing Spike instantly reminded me of my first experience with Ape Escape and PlayStation’s first use of the analog sticks on the DualShock controller for PS One. Parapa the Rapper was another legend of a character from the PS One era with his unique graphics and music rhythm gameplay. Only on PlayStation did I ever see such original games with great characters.
Alternatively, I can understand why gamers new to the scene might not be familiar with certain characters in PSASBR, and that’s okay to me. Because thats where newer characters like Sackboy and Uncharted’s Nathan Drake have taken over as PlayStation’s unofficial mascots. Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, and Kratos fall somewhere comfortably in the middle and prove that this is no throwaway hosh-posh fighting game. There is something for everyone.
At first glance, its easy to see basic similarities in PSASBR with Super Smash Bros., but that is where the similarities end. The fighting moves and the game’s core objective of trying to get kills is much more grown up. Many characters have really wicked close to mid-ranged combos such as Kratos, Raiden, and Nariko while others might be better off attacking from afar like Colonel Radec and Nathan Drake.
All those combos and thrashings are there to build up your super meter. This is very different from Smash Bros. Once you build up your meter to level 1, 2, or 3 you can unleash a super move unique to each fighter that will kill your opponents in one strike. Therein lies the strategy, to strike down onto your opponents with the right leveled super at just the right time for the largest effect and most kills.
Ratchet and Sly have very devastating level 3 supers that can easily get up to six kills, but you’ll have to chase down your enemies. Heihachi’s level 3 will get a guaranteed three kills with no additional work at all. Dante and Fat Princess can get three kills with just their level 1 Super, but enemies must be close and on the ground in front of them for this to work. Strategy is really the key to winning and mastering the Supers is what its all about.
These level 3 supers are ultra cinematic. Just another way developer SuperBot found to inject more fan service at the player. Drake’s level 3 turns all opponents into the mutants from Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Sly gets help from Bentley and uses the Binocu-con to take down everyone. Sweet Tooth turns into a hulking ice cream truck robot equipped with a death-dealing gatling gun. Big Daddy fills the level with water and turns all red with anger as he takes down the helpless swimmers. Each of these is a tribute to the character.
In a way, choosing a background is nearly as important as choosing a character. Maybe next to some of the backgrounds in Street Fighter IV, PSASBR has the best backgrounds I have yet to see in a fighting game. The backgrounds transform from one character’s world into another after a short while into the match. Seeing the Hydras from God of War snap at the contenders in the foreground, or the Patapon warriors throwing spears into the playfield adds another layer of fan-service. Strategically, Parapa’s level is very small and tight whereas Drake’s level opens up through the back of the plane from Uncharted 3 quadrupling the width of the level.
The most economic reason why PSASBR is my Game of the Year is the Cross Buy promotion. If you buy the PS3 version you also get the Vita version for free? This deal works with the retail version as well as the digital download version found in the PlayStation Store. And since the game came out just before the holidays, there were many retailers selling the game for much less than full retail. Having both versions posed quite the conundrum, do I play the game on PS3 or Vita first? Vita!
Visually, the game is essentially the same on both PS3 and Vita with only slightly faster load times on PS3, touch control integration on Vita, and the UI being unique to both. But what surprised me most about the two was how the games automatically synced with each other. I beat the game with Heihachi on PS3 and all the character specific unlockables appeared unlocked on my Vita version, and vice versa. This is very helpful when it comes to playing online and having the additional outfits, taunts, intros, and other extras already unlocked.
I’m a huge advocate for trophies and achievements in video games. You may find it helpful to know that if you’re any kind of fighting game fan then you’ll be playing this on both, because the trophies are not unified. Meaning, if you want them all you’ll need to unlock them all on each platform. The trophy lists are identical though, so after having unlocked them on Vita, I now know what to do to get them quickly on PS3.
What would a four player brawler be without online play? It wouldn’t be PSASBR, because the online is there and works insanely good. I’m not sure if its GGPO netcode or what, but so far I have experienced no lag when playing with people from across the pond. And there are some insanely high ranking players out there, but this never meant that they were better than me. This is the beautiful thing about PSASBR, anyone can play.
At this point, I may not have put a hundred hours into PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale as the other PS3A writers have done with Final Fantasy XIII-2, Spec Ops: The Line, or Tales of Grace f, but I plan on it. There are still tons of unlockables that tease me to dedicate hours of play on each character. SuperBot is already planning to deliver the first couple DLC characters with Kat from Gravity Rush and Emmett from Starhawk.
If you haven’t yet played PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, you need to. This fighting game is not only fun for one, but great at a party with friends or family. You can be playing online against others and never know if they were playing on their Vita or PS3. I’m not sure how they found a way to integrate character stories with fascinating conflicts between the unlikeliest of characters, but this is another reason why PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is easily my 2012 Game of the Year.