Hands-On With Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale

Characters

Playstation All-Stars will feature what we were told would be a collection of “favorites” from the entire history of the Playstation brand. The full list of playable characters hasn’t been revealed, but the six on display yesterday indicate that they’ll be digging deep. How deep? The variety of levels featuring famous Playstation IP locales are suggestive – Omitting the characters in question would be criminal – But more on that shortly. For this event, we had access to the following characters:

* Kratos (God of War)

The funny thing about Kratos is that he perfectly demonstrates the effort put into to making sure that each character is authentically represented as possible, even if you can’t quite figure out why they’d be fighting. Kratos, of course, is no stranger to fighting games, having been a PS3 exclusive in last year’s brilliantly stupid Mortal Kombat, but in the few minutes or so I played with him, I found him to be, strangely, far more suited to Playstation All-Stars. That might be thanks to years of conditions: I can accept “Battle of the Network Stars”; I cannot accept a Castle/Law & Order: SVU crossover. Also, and more importantly, Kratos felt more like the Kratos of the God of War series, at least in his combat style and trademark grunting.

* Colonel Radec (Killzone)

Like Kratos, Radec exemplifies another aspect of Playstation All-Stars, in this case the attempt, rather successful, to make sure that the accuracy (or thematic faithfulness) of each character compliments different play styles. Each character showcased had a unique skill-set that fit within the general realm of your average fighting game — Kratos, as you can guess, is a hack ‘n’ slasher — but Radec is the rare fighting game character who fights from range. His three normal attacks utilize different firearms: a shotgun, a sniper rifle with a laser scope, and a machine gun. The playstyle is similar to how Samus is used in Super Smash Bros., but more pronounced, and it fostered a challenging fight as my muscle memory kept forcing me to go for close up brawls when the best strategy would have been to attack from a distance.

* Fat Princess

Simply put, unless the complete version of the game has Katamari as a playable character, Fat Princess is the funniest, and most fun character available. Her ability to leap ninja style despite her massive girth, princess outfit, and tiara is one thing, but her super attacks, including one in which she mounts a pony and rides over her enemies, are both heartwarming and awesome.

* Parappa The Rapper

If it weren’t for Fat Princess, Parappa would have been my favorite of the playable characters. I was only able to use him for a single match, but having watched other players use him to excellent effect it seems they managed to make use of his skillset, which, BTW, is the king fu he learned from Chop Chop Master Onion. This translates to Parappa delivering a very satisfying series of punches and kicks, but again, it’s his Super Attacks that really stand out, particularly when he pulls out a skateboard and shreds across the screen.

* Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal)

As Sweet Tooth is originally a drivable car from a racing game, it isn’t really possible to approximate his essence in a fighting game — or is it? The Twisted Metal series has always been, essentially, a fighting game with cars, and for Playstation All-Stars, the guys at SuperBot managed the interesting trick of translating that to anthropomorphic fighters. They did this by combining Sweet Tooth with Needles Cane (more or less), creating a kind of cyborg of clowny doom. This might seem a stretch, but if you’ve ever seen the underrated and extremely trippy Disney classic The Black Hole, you’ll probably feel like I did — they channeled Maximillion! Sweet Tooth’s most memorable attack? Mecha Tooth, in which he briefly turns into a giant killer robot.

* Sly Cooper

Last but not least is the lead character of Sony’s strangest neglect, Sly Cooper. It’s fascinating that despite the critical acclaim and low-temperature success of the Sly Cooper series on Playstation 2, it has now been 6 years and we still haven’t seen a new Sly game. That changes later this year when Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time drops, but it looks like, if hints dropped at the event are any indication, we might be seeing him in Playstation All-Stars first. Sly is another example of how the game puts the characters to great use as the player remembers them. Specifically, he’s the only character in the game not to have a block. Instead, when you hit the block button he drops a smoke bomb and reappears considerably farther from his opponent. Among his Super Attacks, I was able to conjure up his Hippo Homie Murray, who delivered an epic beatdown before dissipating and leaving me to be easily dispatched by players far better than I am at this game.

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