It’s impossible to describe PlayStation All-Stars without people bring up comparisons to the Nintendo game Smash Bros’. While they both have very similar premises, the games themselves are vastly different, and it’s important that that is recognized, as PlayStation All-Stars is a great game that deserves to be recognized as its own.
Pitting twenty characters from various video-game franchises against each other, PlayStation All-Stars is both an ambitious and risky game. By allowing the option to play as so many vastly different characters, SuperBot Entertainment had the monumental task of capturing the feel of the many playable characters, while at the same time making them fit into the fighting world of video-games.
In fact, around the time the Beta for the game was released, I was one of those PlayStation faithful that was apprehensive about the game. And while the game isn’t perfect, PlayStation All-Stars is a great game that offers hours of enjoyment for PlayStation and fighting fans alike.
At the heart of the game is its gameplay. Instead of opting to employ a combat system like that of Smash Bros’ (you earn kills by depleting your opponent’s health bar), SuperBot devised a way to make its game both unique and strategic.
By landing hits on your opponent, your character will begin to build up a meter of AP (All-Star power) that when full, will allow you unleash a Super Attack. The real strategy comes in deciding whether to use one of the three supers.
Do you want to use the quick-to-earn Level 1 Super, which when used well can clear the map, or if used wrong will yield no kills whatsoever; or do you wait and use the more powerful Level 2, which almost always earns you a kill? Or, if you’re patient, do you use the all powerful Level 3, which can guarantee you a win?
This is where the game shines; by using this kind of gameplay mechanic, SuperBot added a kind of strategy to their game that isn’t as present in Smash Bros’. Learning to watch your opponents AP-meter and knowing how to dodge or block their supers is all part of the fun, and with some practice, can be incredibly rewarding.
The roster, which consists of twenty characters from both PlayStation exclusive games and multi-platform, is robust and deep, with just a few exceptions. I don’t see the need to have both a good and evil Cole McGrath, especially since they play almost identically, and some other characters (Heihachi comes to mind) stand out as being odd.
Still, there’s a character for everyone, and I absolutely love how many characters there are from all of PlayStation’s life cycle. It’s great seeing PS1 characters like Sir Daniel Fortesque and forgotten favorites such as Fat Princess and Nariko from Heavenly Sword (a personal favorite of mine).
However, as I feared, there are some characters that are unbalanced and over powerful. For instance, Kratos is the easiest character to succeed at, and you can honestly win by simply button mashing. Ratchet’s Level 1 Super is way to powerful, while several other character’s Level 1 Super is clunky almost useless.
Even though this is to be expected in a game like this, it’s still frustrating when you get your butt kicked numerous times by a character that is to powerful and to easy to succeed at.
PlayStation All-Stars comes packed with several different modes, including an Arcade mode, Versus Mode, and Tournament Mode. Although the Arcade and Versus Modes are fun, the online mayhem that is Tournament Mode is where it’s at.
In Arcade Mode, you play through an approximately thirty-minute story mode for each of the game’s twenty characters. This acts as a great way to familiarize yourself with the roster, and helps you learn which characters you enjoy using, and the which ones you don’t.
At the end of each Arcade Mode, your characters is pitted against a rival in a more difficult one on one match. I really like the rival system, and it was really fun to see characters like Kratos and Sweet Tooth argue and eventually fight. However, I feel like SuperBot somewhat missed the mark in this area.
While some of the rivals are hilarious, others are just overly ridiculous and forced. I still don’t know why Fat Princess and Evil Cole hate each other, or why Japanese mascot Toro and Tekken character Heihachi have it out for each other.
And instead of telling a fun, over-the-top story, the only actual ‘plot’ in the Arcade mode comes from the static image cutscenes with voice-overs of whichever character you picked. These were mostly boring, and almost felt half-done. As a huge PlayStation fan, I was hoping for more of a story, albeit a silly one, and so was disappointed in that aspect.
The Versus Mode is exactly what you think it would be. Acting as a way to play with friends both on and offline, Versus Mode is basically Tournament mode without the tournament. You choose any character you want, pick your opponents (or friends) and then decide on a stage and game typ,. After that, you battle.
I liked how this allowed you to practice with the different game modes, and also allowed you to learn the important details of the many stages; but it would’ve been better if the menus weren’t so hard to figure out.
As I said above, it’s the Tournament Mode that packs the most allure. Same as Versus Mode, you choose from any of the twenty available characters (which are all unlocked from the start) and then enter into a random stage with three other random players of various skills.
This is fun, exciting, and utterly chaotic. You never really know what the next match will hold, and it really tests the skill you have with your selected character.
I recommend you spend a fair amount of time in the Arcade and Versus modes before stepping into Tournament, because there are some very, very good players out there, and unless you know the ins and outs of your character, you will be dominated.
PlayStation All-Stars is a great game; it really is. While the Arcade Mode left me wanting more, the gameplay (the backbone of any game) is amazingly deep and addictive. And with at least ten hours of Arcade Mode content, and dozens more in Versus and Tournament, it has a lasting appeal that I’m sure will keep fans coming back for a long time
One thing I wished was more in-depth was the unlockable system. The more you play as a character, the higher their rank becomes. You can normally increase at least one level every match, which means there’s a nearly infinite level cap.
But the problem is that their really isn’t much to award you for reaching an incredibly high level outside of bragging rights. While you do unlock backgrounds and icons to customize your account with, and unlock different outfits, taunt, intros and outros for your character, all this is unlocked fairly easily and leaves little for the hardcore player.
Easy to pick up but difficult to master, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a game with something for everybody, and being Cross-Buy (you get both the PS3 and Vita copies for the price of one) it really is a steal for sixty dollars.
And while it’s not perfect, there is plenty to love about All-Stars, and also plenty to improve on in a hopeful sequel. For first-time developer SuperBot Entertainment, I’d say this is a win.
Story: 6.5/20 – Although there are some stories that are fun, the majority of them are paper-thin and feel tacked on. I would’ve vastly preferred a little more in-depth story here.
Gameplay: 9/10 – Fast paced, chaotic, strategic, and addicting; All-Stars nailed the gameplay here. Although I ran into some connection issues on the Vita, and some overpowered characters, the gameplay is everything I was hoping it would be.
Presentation: 8.5/10 – Outside of the slightly dull and hard to navigate menus, SuperBot nailed the presentation of the game. With so many stages reflecting so many different games, it’s a wonder everything is as good as it is.
Graphics: 8/10 – Both colorful and cartoony, the graphics in All-Stars aren’t anything to write home about, but they get the job done and look pretty good considering all the different art styles present.
Replay Value: 9/10 – With hours of content for both the single and multiplayer gamer, All-Stars has a lot of lasting appeal. I do wish however there was more to unlock as your character’s level progressed.