Hands-On With Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
On April 25, I was invited down to the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood for a chance to preview several of Sony’s upcoming Playstation 3 games in advance of E3. What I saw indicates a bright future for fans of multiplayer and cooperative gameplay, but perhaps the biggest news to come out of the event is the long awaited reveal of PlayStation’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale.
Developed by Sony protege SuperBot, a second-party studio groomed in-house for this project, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale promises a fast-paced, hilarious, and fun chance to scratch the fighting game itch without the darkness and convoluted mythology typical of the genre. It is, simply put, designed to give Playstation fans the chance to find out the answer to questions like “could Kratos kill Parappa?” I got my hands on it for a couple of hours, and lived to tell the tale.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is due out this holiday season, though no specific date has been decided. I’ll need to see the finished game to determine whether or not releasing it at this late date in the Playstation 3′s life cycle, or going after the Super Smash bros. concept so long after it was invented is a good idea. Nevertheless, what I did see indicates that SuperBot might have come up with a great send-off for the PLaystation 3.
The theme of the two games I had the chance to preview (the first is embargoed out the wazoo — look for our hands-on Wednesday, May 2) seems to be “easy for newcomers, rewarding for experts.” They weren’t difficult to figure out, but evaded the boredom that comes with making things just a bit too simple.
That’s due in part to the intuitive control scheme, which puts each of the DualShock controller’s options to use without over-burdening players with endlessly complex commands. The left stick and D-pad are interchangeable and allow players to choose their preferred means of moving their character around. X is jump, while Circle, Triangle and Square offer different standard attacks. L1 is Block, R1 picks up objects (like weapons, themed to the levels in which they’re dropped) and R3 offers several different grapple moves. Finally, R2 activates the Super Meter Attack (more in a second).
Combat is deceptively simple. Players can easily tap-tap-tap their way to a slow victory, provided they’re up against lesser opponents, but by trying different combinations of buttons, they can pull of some excellent combo moves. Unlike the more complex Capcom fighting games, you don’t need a degree in math to pull off some of the better ones — my experience is that the attack buttons themselves are enough. But the real star is the Super Meter Attack. You see, players aren’t killed permanently in Playstation All-Stars — they’re vaporized temporarily, only to respawn shortly thereafter. Instead, victory is determined by points at the end of the game. But, next to your character’s icon on the screen, you’ll notice a bar where the life meter would normally be. That’s the Super Meter. When it’s full, clicking the R2 button unleashes a powerful, temporary attack bonus that is themed to each character.
Interestingly, the Super Attacks don’t make you overwhelming. Other players can doge your attacks and get out of your way. But you’ll be temporarily immune to your opponents’ attacks (although not to environmental dangers), and you’ll get to deliver some wonderful damage if you get to your opponents. Even better, each character has 3 different attacks, each more powerful than the last, which you’ll access each time you power up. If you’re temporarily killed by one of your opponents, your meter resets to zero, so there’s an incentive to fight strategically to ensure you don’t lose the change to call one down.