For a gamer like me who got his gaming start through Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon on the PlayStation, PlayStation All-Stars is the gift that many Sony/Nintendo fans deep-down dreamed of. But as exciting as the PlayStation franchises duking it out may be in gamers’ heads, what did the hands-on time leave me with? Read the full preview right here.
On Thursday afternoon my friend and I got a chance to demo one of Sony’s hottest games of the year, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale at Summer Fest. And to avoid beating around the bush, I’ll start with this: this game kept my friend and I wanting ‘one more round’ each press of the annoying child-proof START button that held the controller to the kiosk. The demo was presumably based off of the E3 2012 build of the game as it showed Parappa, Sweet Tooth, Sly Cooper, Commander Radec, Fat Princess, Nathan Drake, Big Daddy, and the over powered Kratos in the roster. The four stages included in this build were LittleBigPlanet’s Dreamscape, God of War’s Hades, Jak and Daxter’s Sandover Village and Ratchet and Clank’s Metropolis. It wasn’t as fun having a lot of stages to choose from to be honest, but the stages did their part for getting a feel of what this brawler was going to feel like. For now, let’s get the objective of this game settled as it may be confusing to those unfamiliar to how this game plays.
How to Play:
The basics of the game may have the Final Smash nay-sayers enraged, but for those wanting a game that simply puts two characters neck-and-neck at all times in their Super Smash Bros. fights, it’s a frantic combo-building struggle. When characters are attacked they do not lose health or grow weaker, instead energy balls (that look notably similar to Ratchet and Clank’s nanotech) are knocked out of opponents and sometimes spread around the battlefield to be collected in order to build up a super meter. Does this mean you want to get hit so you start spreading energy across the field? No. When you are being attacked you could be easily chained into a super attack and get knocked out.
Building up and unleashing super attacks is the only way to get a score, you see, and it takes some time to get used to this style compared to other fighters. You can perform a super attack the moment your meter fills, but filling it up multiple times (three times max) will create even more powerful super attacks. The game also makes sure players take into their surroundings. For instance: sometimes two characters battling off to the side can both be vulnerable when a third character can run in and K.O. the duelers with his own super attack and take the points. It’s a new feeling that’s foreign yet is easy to understand a few minutes into the game.
You’ve got the basic move set you’ve seen in Nintendo’s side-scrolling fighters here too. X is jump, the other three face buttons perform heavy, small, and projectile attacks, and R2 summons the aforementioned super attack. Players can grab and throw other characters using the right stick, and block with the L1 button. And Gamecube controller wielders, don’t panic! The X button is comfortable as a jump button. It feels just as natural as pressing the Gamecube’s X and Y buttons to jump. It takes about two or three jumps to get used to it. But enough of that- have at you- let’s get into the characters.
Character Roster Impressions:
Author’s Note: This is by far not a complete list of moves and abilities as I went about each character as best as I could given the small time. I did my best to remember each character I played as and give my take on each one. Out of this roster I will be honest that I have not played Twisted Metal, KillZone, Fat Princess, or BioShock yet, but have a decent knowledge of each individual property to understand where some of the source material is coming from.
Parappa (Parappa the Rapper – PS One)
The two-dimensional dog harnesses his training from Chop Chop Master Onion to create a short-ranged, but balanced fighter. Parappa’s karate skills make a prime appearance in his move set. Kick, punch, and block with a funky combo, or swing around his anime-only-inspired skateboard as a heavy attack. From what I experienced, I don’t believe Parappa had a projectile attack, but do remember a fierce spinning punch move that could be deployed in the air. Parappa’s first special meter has him jumping on his skateboard, charging full-speed and knocking out anyone who he rams into. Parappa was the first character I chose, and I think I chose a winner that feels great for anyone wishing to find out what this fighter has to offer.
Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal – PS One)
Sweet Tooth is quite the clown. Like his fellow classic PS One representer, Parappa, he’s a close-ranged fighter dealing with a few moves that glides his feet slowly into being a medium-ranger. Attacks stay on the heavy side, and combos involving aerial attacks plus wall equals quite a scene. But his fire breath attack is one of the few elements that bring him closer to his paralleled fighter, Bowser, as he’s a bit slower and can be seen as an easy target due to his size. He makes up for it with his special mech attack I managed to get a glimpse at a nearby group of people playing a match. It’s a towering mech that can only spell disaster for any fighters daring to let Sweet Tooth fill up his third special meter. His trademark smile leaves only burning knock-outs and an inferno of destruction in his twisted wake. Nathan Drake, watch out!
Sly Cooper (Sly Raccoon – PS2)
The newest heir to the Cooper gang, Sly, pits himself against the opposition donning his signature blue uniform and trusty family cane. Cooper has quite the moves that could have been chosen, given the amount of pressing the circle and triangle buttons throughout the series. Some of Sly’s attacks include him rolling around in a ball surrounded in blue light, as well as swinging, smacking and twirling his cane to-and-fro. Sly has a bit more of a range than Parappa, but takes more time than what was given to be mastered. After all, the thief’s got a few tricks up his sleeve before the match is over. And let me be the first to the bearer of bad news, folks. Sly’s special attack includes sending out Murray to attack others, so don’t expect his cohorts to be joining him as playable characters in this heist. If you’re expecting to always play as Sly, be warned about a bitter first sip, though. Between my friend and I, there was little glory for Sly to shine through. He’s a sneaky character alright, and getting the jump on him could leave you robbed, so train up.
Kratos (God of War – PS2)
The first name that comes to mind in a PlayStation fighter is the ash-scarred man that showed the world that 3D beat-um-ups aren’t as Greek as they were. Besides being known for killing practically every possible Greek mythological being that he sees, Kratos is also known for a list of abilities. Do be warned, Kratos is the cheap character of the game, creating easy combos both near- and far-ranged either on the ground or in the air. This is a man that brought down Gods and Titans while screaming and grunting his way to a bloody victory, so a singing dog and a sneaky raccoon should naturally be nothing for Kratos. Kratos is very similar to Pit (aside from the fact that his wings that let him fly came from Icarus, ironically). You’ve got your spammy spinning blades and wings for flying wrapped into a raged-filled kill-aholic. Kratos’ super attack merits him the Blade of Olympus- the same blade powerful enough to kill a god. As the meter builds up to higher levels, you’ll see Kratos turn into a God and be able to walk about and use the Blade of Olympus in his armor seen at the beginning of God of War II. The difference? The level one lasts for one quick strike and the level three attack is on a time limit. Don’t let this guy find out about Mass Effect 3’s ending, we could be seeing the decimation of planets and at least twelve ice ages from this guy.
Nathan Drake (Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – PS3)
After getting over the graphical shock that Drake looks unappealingly less detailed than even his appearance in Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the Vita, players will learn to not only appreciate how well of a job Naughty Dog does in their craft of creating detailed characters, but also that Nathan Drake can even fair against the might of even a god slayer. Nathan Drake comes loaded with guns from hammer space as it’s not surprising for this game. The next shock after the graphics comes from that fact that hammer space has no bounds, and in fact, allows characters like the realistic Nathan Drake to pull out a barricade to take cover from, or even kick and roll an explosive barrel into a line of opponents. Drake’s circle button attack lets him seem like Fox by taking out a pistol for a quick long-range attack. He can also use the Hammer grenade launcher from Uncharted 2, toss NDI-Grenades (click, click, click, clickclickclick–BOOM!), and blast a clip of AK-47 in an arch from his hip to below his feet while soaring mid-air. If that doesn’t sound zany enough, his first special attack has him tossing out a propane tank, taking aim, and then firing his trusty pistol into a far away opponent. Just wait until he has to take on Sweet Tooth, though.
Colonel Mael Radec (KillZone 2 – PS3)
Radec stumbles from planet Helghan to represent the KillZone series. His moves rely on far-ranged guns that are tough to adjust to after having a cast of short and medium ranged attackers. Radec however fails to present himself as a capable fighter with awkward attacks involving a medium-ranged projectile that only attacks an enemy a few feet away in midair, as well as his first super attack that makes him stationary while the player controls the destination and path of a rocket, leaving him open to lose his special attack if an enemy attacks. Like Nathan Drake, Radec relies on guns, but doesn’t use them in a matter you would hope. He make have a shotgun that shoots at a 45 degree angle that could help chain combos, but melee attacks aren’t his specialty, so be careful when trying to juggle an enemy into the air. In my time playing, I felt Radec was a punching bag for everyone to gain super attacks from.
Fat Princess (Fat Princess – PS3)
Princess Peach fans will get a kick out of this cake lover. Stealing Peach’s signature… ahem… side-B move from Super Smash Bros., Fat Princess can dash her way through the air while creating a twister similar to Wario. What an odd, yet fitting combination. This princess wouldn’t be anything without her loyal servants, though. She’ll summon allies to her side to take a jab if the opponents aren’t careful. Her special move consists of her eating a short trail of cake (akin to Pac-Man eating a trail of dots). Players caught up in that chocolatey trail will be in a mess hall worthy of a knock out.
Big Daddy (BioShock – 360/PS3)
As his appearance may imply, the Big Daddy is a powerful close-ranged attacker. With his drill, he can create devastating combos on the ground. Don’t take him as a push over incapable of getting the jump on an enemy though, the Big Daddy can also launch electrical pulses from his hand to stun enemies far away from him. This element can easily turn this seemingly cliché slow-but-strong attacker into a strategic character that will appease the Bioshock lovers wishing to play as the Big Daddy. And fear not- or maybe you should- as Mr. Bubbles’ companion, the Little Sister appears in his super attack. The Little Sister is launched and ready to knock out anyone she finds. Kratos you’ve met your match- a creepy tiny girl!
The gameplay overall is flat-out addictive. We walked into this demo trailer Sony hauled to Wisconsin at 2:00 and didn’t come out until 4:30. Sure we played some LittleBigPlanet Karting and various other demos too, but a good fifteen or so matches between my friend and two AI opponents were the main highlight. It’s a game I wish I could turn on right now and see if Fat Princess could best Sly Cooper. Aside from Kratos and Radec, the game is decently balanced for a fighter, and that’s difficult for crossover fighters that normally shouldn’t blend together. It’s still hard to accept seeing a two-dimensional rapping dog take on Kratos and Big Daddy, but if you shake that and just let your dream fighter just roll, it just blends together in the idea that your brain WANTS this to happen.
Expect more excitement to stir up from PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale at the end of 2012.