Rumors started about a Sony “Smash Bros.” game last year when Sony released their “Michael” ad campaign featuring some of Playstation’s most recognized characters. In April, the rumors came true with the announcement of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. The announcement for the game revealed the first batch of fighters including Kratos, Radic, Fat Princess, PaRappa, Sly Cooper, and Sweet Tooth. At the Sony E3 Press Conference, two more characters were announced: Big Daddy and Nathan Drake.
In the Sony booth at E3, there were plenty of setups with the game available to play. I had my chance to play both the PS3 version and the PS Vita version that was used to play with PS3 players.
To start, I have to comment on the playing with the PS Vita. The action went smoothly without a hiccup while playing on the portable, although the control setup is a little awkward as the rear touch panels are used to activate your super move. Although this feature works well, I simply don’t see much need for it unless you find yourself with some friends that don’t have enough controllers to go around.
Fighting is pretty simple in PlaystationAll-Stars. There are three attack buttons, a block button, a button to jump/double jump, and the second analog stick is for throws. Players are put into a battleground that will be based on different Sony games. In this build, the two available were God of War and LittleBigPlanet. The LBP stage was especially interesting as halfway through the match, the background changed to the Buzz! Quiz Show, Sony’s quiz game.A question appeared and answers to the questions are placed at certain spots on the stage. If you’re on the spot with the correct answer, you’ll be unscathed while the other players lose a life.
Speaking of losing a life, that is how scoring works in Playstation All-Stars. Players have a set amount of time to fight each other. Each character has a set of normal moves that can be comboed, along with various special moves. The more damage you deal, the more your super gauge will increase. Super moves come in three levels, and can end an opponent’s life. Level 1 supers are typically short range, small area moves that will take out an opponent or two depending on their proximity such as Nathan Drake’s where he throws an explosive in the air and takes a shot at it. When you use a level 2 super, you’ll have a bit more of an area to affect such as Big Daddy’s where he summons a Little Sister to kill other payers that are nearby. If you unleash a level 3 super, you’ll be able to destroy your opponents across the stage for several seconds like with Sly Cooper’s as he flies around dropping bombs on everyone.
Based on the several matches that I was able to play, I don’t see Playstation All-Stars being much more than a party game. Being a former fighting game tournament organizer, I’ve tried out a variety of fighting games, and right now, I don’t see this game being on the same level as Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There’s simply not enough depth or strategy involved in the game to get more skilled fighting game players attracted to the game. I do know that developer SuperBot Entertainment has several known fighting game players on the team, so this could be just an early build of the game that will go through major changes throughout its development life cycle, so stay tuned.