PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale Review

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale screenshot
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale screenshot

If PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale's roster was as packed out as its unwieldy title then SuperBot's début effort would be on to something. But it isn't, and to pretend otherwise would be foolish - Sony's heavy reliance on third-party support to create its sweeping range of iconic characters has backfired here, leaving us with slim pickings wrapped together with an unsentimental presentation that makes zero effort to explain Sony's fantastic history.

"A very special thank you to all of the PlayStation fans," declares the game's credits. But such sentimental reverence rings a little false in a game that seems more keen to peddle the upcoming wares of third-party publishers than pay tribute to the acts that have defined Sony's golden goose. This is a game that's happy to show Capcom's new Dante, currently the unproven star of an uncertain but imminent 360/PS3 reboot, rather than the old Dante that helped define the early days of the PlayStation 2. Such decisions feel cold and cynical, as if the game is a premium advert for upcoming titles mandated almost solely by the demands of executives. I wouldn't even be surprised if the game's title screen was using subliminal messaging to flash "PRE-ORDER METAL GEAR RISING: REVENGEANCE NOW" into my brain.

Or, hey, there's BioShock's Big Daddy for some reason - currently the only fruit from a partnership between Sony and 2K that isn't Ken Levine pretending to look interested during Sony's E3 2011 press conference. Heck, it would have been more fitting for the concept of PlayStation All-Stars if they had spent the money on getting the rights to Croc. Where are the quintessential PlayStation characters? Crash Bandicoot, Lara Croft, Spyro the Dragon, Cloud Strife or Solid Snake?

The whole concept feels lacking somewhat, like if a new Spice Girls album was announced with only Emma Bunton onboard. It's an endemic problem which runs deeper than the characters, too: there aren't any nods to Ridge Racer or WipEout in its stages, yet SuperBot seems prepared to double-dip into BioShock Infinite's Columbia, a locale nobody has ever associated with the PlayStation in its entire storied history, for its inspiration.

Who do we have, then? Alongside the third-party inclusions, the 20-strong roster includes Kratos, Sackboy, Ratchet and Drake as the Sony frontrunners, with lesser-known characters like MediEvil's Sir Daniel Fortesque, Twisted Metal's Sweet Tooth and Sony Japan mascot Toro Inoue also making appearances. I'm also quite chuffed to see PaRappa along for the ride, though by the time Colonel Radec starts to make an appearance you can actually hear the barrel being scraped.

As for the arenas, well, SuperBot opts to mix two titles together for most of its stages, meaning the Chop Chop Master Onion stage segues into an encounter with that giant Helghast robot thingy from Killzone 3. At least, I think it's Killzone 3. It's a nice idea - and I wouldn't want to ruin most of the twists and turns - but I don't think it quite works; more stages designed around singular titles would have allowed for more variety.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale screenshot

Such missteps are tragic, then, as underneath the game's lacking presentation lies a fairly competent attempt at marrying the frenetic nature of Smash Bros' party brawls with a more serious fighter. PlayStation All-Stars' core involves charging up your three-tier super bar with regular attacks and then scoring points by landing your characters' unique level one, two or three supers, with afflicted opponents exploding into a beautiful shower of crosses, squares, triangles and circles before respawning.

This central mechanic is a textbook example of risk versus reward, because if you whiff that all-important attack you'll end up with nothing. The higher level your super, basically, the easier it is to land hits and score points, but the more time and energy you have to spend building up that crucial bar. It's potent enough to cause both delight and frustration, which makes it perfect for the kind of party and multiplayer environments it was born to occupy.

And really, the multiplayer netcode seems absolutely excellent - when it isn't suffering from the occasional glitch, that is. While the latter seems to be quite rare, in a couple of instances I've found my character completely unable to respawn for the rest of a match. But the game seems to be stable and responsive for the vast majority of your time, and SuperBot has crafted one of the most impressive implementations of online play in a fighting game to date. Another nice touch is the use of rolling seasons in ranked play across 2v2 and FFA modes, though it seems a little peculiar that there's no way to play 1v1 online.

The fact the game can even pull off 1v1 matches is a testament to the scrappy fighting system running through the game's veins, with SuperBot spending the best part of a year telling everyone this game could work in the professional scene - time well tell if that's the case, though I certainly have my reservations. The mechanics are in place at least, with evades, blocks, and multiple moves across the three attack buttons, alongside a balanced free-form combo system which neatly prevents infinite loops by cutting off combos once they've done a certain amount of damage. You can tell SuperBot has clearly put a lot of thought in the rhythm of its action, and for the most part you're left with something that manages to entertain but fails to ever truly excite.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale screenshot

Outside of the game's local and online multiplayer there's a rudimentary single-player arcade mode which dishes out a brief procession of stages with a specific rival fight (and CGI accompaniment) and eventual showdown with the original PlayStation mascot Polygon Man. This is tied together with low-budget animated opening and closing cinematics which, well, aren't really very good. At least SuperBot has an occasional sense of humour about the whole thing: Evil Cole takes on Fat Princess, for instance.

The game's presentation feels a bit half-finished, sadly, with cheap menus and a dearth of single-player modes. You can customise your playercard with all sorts of unlockable icons, backgrounds and titles, for instance, but the ugly graphics and joyless text doesn't exactly make it all that much fun. At least there's a comprehensive practice mode, which suggests SuperBot prioritised on the most important parts of the package.

For all of SuperBot's noble efforts in creating an accessible yet technical fighter, you can't play PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale without ever feeling like something crucial is deeply lacking. The weak roster and poor presentation actively works against the title, and while there's enjoyment to be found this is a game that's highly unlikely to stick in your mind or, more vitally, ever be asked for at parties.

Version Tested: PlayStation 3

This review was written after spending 10 hours with a debug version of the game, patched to the latest version, provided by Sony. The game was played over an Internet connection on the game's retail online servers. Retail code on the PlayStation Vita version was also tested.

6 / 10

  • Fantastic netcode
  • Some characters and stages feel cynical
  • Where are all the characters?
  • Presentation feels a bit cheap

Click above for enlarged PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Screenshots

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User Comments

playRgamer's Avatar

playRgamer

Hated this game. I do not recommend this game to ANYONE. But if you want a REAL fighting game, your better off playing Super Smash Bros.
Posted 20:51 on 26 December 2013
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ Bloodstorm

I knew it would work. Maybe I should send a picture of a crying kitty to drive hom the point :P
Posted 07:58 on 21 November 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ Bloodstorm

Playstation Official Magazine... Aren't they closing their doors, imminently? I suppose such a thing would let them be brutally honest...
Posted 05:46 on 21 November 2012
Ignats82's Avatar

Ignats82

I wish you would have talked more about how the game played. I can barely tell if you felt like the game was fun. I know that you were upset that characters that should be in the game were absent but please say a word about the characters that are present.
Posted 05:17 on 21 November 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ tvr77

HOW DARE YOU! LOOK AT THE LACK OF FEMALE CHARACTERS!

I'M GOING TO WRITE TO MY MP!
Posted 23:09 on 20 November 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

OH LORDY LUCIFER! Even POM UK gave it a 6!
Posted 23:08 on 20 November 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ Mintyrebel

Oh yes, i can see the Sony people shedding a tear and saying "We're sorry"
Posted 22:50 on 20 November 2012
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ Rolo18

MARTIN IS NEVER WRONG. HE IS A MAN GOD! In all seriousness though. Reviews are opinion pieces by nature. If you don't like the review, play the game yourself and then you judge it based on that.
Posted 21:00 on 20 November 2012
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH@ tvr77

Yeah, this is just a general annoyance of mine (not specifically aimed at anyone in-particular, just in general), but why must be the first comment by anyone who disagrees with a review be like this nowadays:

"I'm angry because the guy who wrote this review had an unfavourable response to a game I'm excited for, even though it's just his opinions... blah blah blah...

"I'm going to now write something that belittles the guy who wrote this... I didn't like any of his reviews anyway even though I've shown no outward opposition to them till now!... Ramble ramble ramble.....

"If this game was part of so and so other franchise it would scored so much better.... RAWWWGHHH!....
"

The worst part of these comments is that they generally come from people, who have valid reasons for why they are disagreeing with the review itself. But instead of making a well mannered comment, they say something that sounds either troll-like or downright rude. If they really wanted a nice debate with the author over the review they should at least started of by asking them to elaborate, instead of being a dick.

Reviews are just one man's opinions on a game, and those opinions are based of someone else's wants from a game in order for them to have a pleasurable time with the experience. You are supposed to base you own opinions of the game via what this man liked or disliked in order to make a judgement. Reviews aren't a valid reason to turn you against a game unless you agree with what is written. There is a reason for why there is more then one games review site on the internet, so you can have a range of other peoples opinions. If something is a problem to the reviewer and not to you, then this is a sign that you may have more fun with the game, not an excuse to be rude. One man's garbage is another man's gold and all that jazz.

People at the least respect that this is someone else's opinion, even if they don't agree with it.

Up until this last couple of weeks, I've always been a fan of review scores and small bullet points at end. However, things have gotten to the point where I am not opposed to arbitrary scores.
Posted 20:54 on 20 November 2012
CharleSketch's Avatar

CharleSketch

When I tried the beta, the first thing I noticed was the awful menus and though: "Well, crap.. these are some horrendous menus. I guess they'll change them on the final version". Seems like I was wrong, then. If a game puts you off with nothing but the menus, I don't think that's a good sign.
Posted 19:13 on 20 November 2012
Mintyrebel's Avatar

Mintyrebel@ Bloodstorm

OK I suppose I should direct that at developers. MAKE BETTER GAMES! Thats a good enough email right?
Posted 19:06 on 20 November 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ MJTH

Here, here - I remember truly enjoying Medievil; but am I recalling correctly that there was some suggestion that he was the remains of the knight from the original Ghouls 'n' Ghosts... (or am I making that up)?

Edit: Nevermind - seems I've been thinking nonsense this past decade! :p Even though I'm sure I recall seeing heart covered boxers in the original game...
Posted 18:18 on 20 November 2012
MJTH's Avatar

MJTH

I was surprised to see Sir Daniel Fortesque in this game when I read your review, I haven't been keeping up with this game much. Medievil was a pretty good game on the original PlayStation, a definite classic that was sadly forgotten.
Posted 18:09 on 20 November 2012
tvr77's Avatar

tvr77@ Rolo18

Oh no! here we go again. Thank god there's no "misogyny" to worry about.
Posted 17:48 on 20 November 2012
Rolo18's Avatar

Rolo18

This is how badly Martin Gaston is so predictable when it comes to the most anticipated Playstation games:

I looked at the low score for Playstation all-stars battle royale and thought "I guess Martin reviewed it". I was right. Go ahead VG, remove my comment.
Posted 17:34 on 20 November 2012

Game Stats

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
6
Out of 10
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
  • Fantastic netcode
  • Some characters and stages feel cynical
  • Where are all the characters?
  • Presentation feels a bit cheap
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 23/11/2012
Platforms: PS3 , PS Vita
Developer: Superbot Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Fighting
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 460 38
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