Kind of an old game to review, huh?
Quite. Mostly just working out a review style.
Talking to yourself?
Hey, I do it when I’m writing these, I might as well.
…Alright, go ahead.
Cool. So, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale- or PBR, as I typically call it- is a 2D platform brawler starring semi-iconic characters from franchises that have been on Sony’s systems. I’d say exclusive, but there are some characters who have appeared on other systems.
Sounds like Smash Bros. with a less iconic roster.
And that’s about where the similarities end. PBR takes a more fighting-centric route by using a meter system. Characters build meter, which is spent on Supers. Each character has a unique set of Supers, and the Super used depends on the amount of meter accrued. Kills gained using Supers awards points.
So, no victory by knocking people off of platforms?
Nope. Only collecting meter by hitting opponents, and spending it on kill moves. It’s a direct system that’s easy(er) to comprehend and play with.
Whoa, whoa. Smash Bros. is the epitome of ‘simple and easy to learn’. To knock out opponents, you just knock them out of the arena.
A simple premise, but difficult when you realize that most attacks and combos are percentage-dependent, stage dependent, and even opponent-dependent. For PBR, it’s just stage-dependent. If you know a combo, it works on all characters at all times, unless they’re at a ledge. This happens occasionally- especially in the more fantastical stages in the list- but it’s minimal compared to a 3-factor system. And since each move is simply comprised of a direction and a face button, all of the moves are easy to input. You can feel like a combo master in minutes.
Okay, okay. But that means better players can stomp worse players easier. They can learn combos and use them in a flash.
Just as much as you can in Smash Bros. or any other fighting game for that matter. Like a lot of brawlers, PBR smooths out the skill curve a little by having varied environments, and a randomized weapon system, throwing out fun items here and there to mix up the game. It’s a pretty broad spectrum of usefulness, from the throwaway, to ones that can virtually grant free kills.
So how good’s the fighting?
Frantic, and fun (up to) four player action. The roster has 20 characters, and four more through DLC, each with their own set of projectiles, attacks, and supers. Each environment is a mash-up of two universes, with varying platforms and stage hazards peppered throughout like a fifth character. For example, on a stage comprised of Little Big Planet and Buzz! Quiz, the stage is slowly built from scratch using the LBP menu, and then specific platforms correspond to B!Q answers asked to all the players. Standing on the wrong platform causes meter-diminishing pies to be thrown at the characters who got it wrong. A lot of the stages play out like that, mixing combat with a degree of environmental dodging and platforming.
Alright, so what’s the story bringing all these characters together?
I wish I knew. The campaign is one of the more barebone elements of the game, offering each character a handful of static screens with voice over to describe them all meeting up and summarily ‘conquering’ this mixup land. It’s not so much bad as it is non-existent. Whether you were expecting a big story to tie all these characters together can affect your outlook. Me, I wasn’t too phased. Fighting games don’t have too much of a good storyline, and unlike regular fighting games, there’s a lot of variety and randomness in online matches, so it’s a pretty fun experience to just jump online and wreak havoc.
Any other modes?
Practice, Combo Trials, Free play, and Online. Don’t expect some cart-racing bonanza on the side.
So, replay value-
Is mostly done by messing around with new characters, new items, new stages, new combinations. Also, like all fighting games, perfecting your strategy(ies).
I hope the characters are fun, then.
Oh, they are. Similar to plenty of other crossover titles, whether you like characters based on looks, play styles, ease or difficulty, or skill ceiling, there’s a character that fits somewhere in the spectrum for you. I’m personally a fan of Fat Princess, Sir Daniel Fortesque, and Big Daddy. Each has their own style, and can be devastating when played right. Hell, there are characters that are devastating when played wrong. Like Kratos, or PaRappa the Rapper- fuck those guys.
Imbalance. PBR is made by people behind games like UFC ( a fighting game that’s inherently imbalanced) and NetherRealm Studios (a studio that is just terrible at fighting game balance, despite multiple franchises under their belt). They’re quick to release a few patches settling most issues, but outliers still exist. Still, despite the lopsided nature of some fights, the diversity helps out a little. For example, Big Daddy is considered one of the worst characters, and Kratos one of the best, but because Big Daddy has a lot of weird tools that Kratos doesn’t, it’s a lot likelier that a Big Daddy can beat Kratos than other games where going up a tier list implies (almost) strictly better moves, like Dan versus Ken versus Ryu versus Akuma.
Well, that’s something.
It’s a lot, really. I can’t say whether it’s the environments or the characters themselves, but the way fights play out allow a good amount of wiggle room even in the most dire of situations, like trying to dodge a Level 3 Super, or navigating a minefield of projectiles to throw somebody into the ground. It turns into a great experience that has enough randomness to laugh off losses, but enough skill requirements to make a victory feel well-earned. And there aren’t too many fighting games that strike that balance well.