Super Smash Bros is still pretty recent so it was good timing to finally check out Playstation All Stars. This game was Smash’s big rival and there are still many loyal Sony fans who claim that it is better than Super Smash. It certainly has its fans since I’ve come across several online players who are at level 999 and find it hard to see why someone would play it that long. I got to level 27 with Ratchet after an online battle or two plus arcade mode. So, it would take a very long time to reach such a high level. It definitely has its flaws and I’m sure that you are familiar with some of them, but this is still a great game considering that it’s the first in the series. I’m confident that the sequel will be better.
There is no story mode of course, but we do have Arcade Mode so that’s something. Each character gets their own intro and ending as well as a cutscene for when you face your rival. Arcade Mode is usually pretty fun because it’s quick and you can get used to the controls on the fly, but the game actually dropped the ball here. Arcade Mode takes around 30 minutes no matter how good you are because the first 3-4 matches are times. That means that you have to battle for 3 minutes before the victor is decided so that’s already 10+ minutes. Considering that you have to beat the mode with 20 characters, that’s a lot of time. I still plan to complete it with everyone eventually, but you can probably see why I got this review out first. It’s definitely going to be a gradual thing to say the least. They definitely shouldn’t have added timed matches to Arcade Mode and hopefully they know better for future games.
As for the actual gameplay, PS All Stars uses a 2D combat system sort of like Super Smash Bros. Each character has a variety of attacks. You have three different standard attacks and each one has 3-4 variations. Then there are also grabs and you can roll to avoid attacks as it lets you become intangible for an instant. You can link these abilities to create fierce combos. Now, this is not how you beat an opponent. Typically, your moves would deal damage to chip away at a health bar or send the opponent flying off of the screen, but this is where Playstation All Stars decided to get unique. Attacking doesn’t deal any damage, but it does build up your final smash meter. You can charge it to a full bar up to three times. Filling it up will let you use your standard final smash and bringing it to the 3rd level will let you use the ultimate attack. You have to hit an opponent with one of these attacks to get a KO.
This is where the game starts to get pretty unbalanced. How good your final smash is will determine if your character is good or not. Some characters like Toro or Heihachi will have a level 3 Smash that instantly KOs everyone on the field while others like Ratchet and Kratos will have to earn them. It’s typically pretty easy to score KOs with your level 3 attack so it shouldn’t matter very much, but there can be a difference. The pro of Toro’s attack is that it guarantees 3 KOs in a 4 way battle. The con is that it can only get 3. Ratchet’s can go up to 6 in theory, but you could theoretically not get any as well. It’s a tough call and it’s something that you’ll want to consider before picking a character. The game’s roster is infamously unbalanced, but you may not notice unless you play it very competitively. In that case, you may want to stick with Kratos or try some of the DLC characters. Speaking of which….
This game suffers from the on disc DLC problem that Street Fighter X Tekken had. You’ll see a few characters on the menu, but you won’t be able to play as them without dishing out some money to PSN. I’m okay with DLC being around for the game, but I don’t like it to actually be on the menu. Why should I have to see those characters on the screen if I can never play as them? I think that it is in pretty bad taste since the game is trying to force you to buy them to clean up your character selection page. It’s also sad because the game already has a pretty limited character roster. There are 20 characters and almost half of them are joke characters. “Half…is that possible?” Well, let’s look as the real characters vs joke characters although our interpretations of a “joke” character may vary a little.
Well, maybe that’s not as bad as it looks. This means that 30% of the characters are fall into the joke category, which is high, but not as high as I had feared. That being said, the roster definitely needs to shape up a little. All of the 14 normal characters are cool, but a fighting game in this day and age should have well over 30 characters easily. Even with the joke characters, we’re not quite there yet. The characters are just a little too limited for my case and even more so when you consider the fact that Cole is basically taking up two slots. It’s why people always bash the idea of Microsoft making their own Super Smash. Their characters would be much more limited than Sony or Nintendo and that can be dicey to think about. What Sony should do is add more representatives from each series. Just throwing in a second for each one would greatly increase the character count. I don’t have a problem with the stage count though since it’s of a reasonable size.
For Replay Value, PS All Stars definitely has a lot of options after completing Arcade Mode with everyone. Each character has a combat trial to complete and there are general ones as well. Unlocking everything will take an extremely long amount of time and there are a few hundred goals to achieve as well. I don’t think there are any characters or stages to unlock, which can be disappointing, but getting everyone to level 999 is an adventure that you may want to pursue. Finally, we have the PS3 Trophies which are tried and true. Getting the Platinum is supposed to be pretty easy, but that’s with boosting. Without that, it can be pretty tricky thanks to the fact that you need to find a friend who owns the game for two of them. Getting through a match without dying once can also be pretty tricky. Not impossible of course, but tricky nonetheless. That being said, you can easily get around 40 of the trophies here so that’s a great way to boost your Playstation 3 score.
The graphics are pretty good although I would definitely not call them great. The stills are sharp and the cutscene with your rival during Arcade Mode looks great. The game is polished just about everywhere except the gameplay. That’s the area where the graphics tend to struggle a little bit. Especially in 4 player battles. The screen just zooms out a little too much so that it’s hard to see where everyone is and the character models definitely don’t look great at that point. Super Smash Bros can pull it off so this game just needed a little more work in the graphics department. The game feels pretty futuristic and polished otherwise, which has always been one of the perks of the PS3.
The soundtrack is pretty good for the most part. I didn’t want to pull the Super Smash Bros card again, but it’s not quite at that level in terms of the musical themes in the game. The main menu theme is actually pretty good until the singer yells and everything goes downhill. There is only one lyric in the song I believe and I’m not even sure what it is, but it disrupts the nice theme that had been playing. I have already forgotten all of the stage themes, but I’m sure that they’ll come to me in time. It’s fun to play as Ratchet because I get to hear music from his game when you unleash his Level 3 Final Smash. Those games typically had a decent enough soundtrack.
There’s just something about PS All Stars that makes it hard to take seriously. It’s hard to describe, but this just doesn’t feel like “The Next Big Game.” I’m sure that a lot of work was put into it, but some parts just feel like a cash in. You could never say the same thing about Super Smash Bros and that’s just one of the big problems for this title. It’s a great game, but it won’t be able to make it to the next level without some serious work and improvements in key areas. Again, this isn’t bad for a start, but I will have much higher expectations for the inevitable sequel.
Time to directly compare Super Smash Bros and PS All Stars. I could do a bullet point list, but this battle is a little too clear for that. So, let’s just go through the categories here. We’ll have it face off against Brawl since they were from the same generation. Graphics -Super Smash Bros. Soundtrack- Super Smash Bros. Gameplay- Super Smash Bros. Character Roster- Super Smash Bros. Items- Super Smash Bros. Stages- Super Smash Bros. Story Mode- Super Smash Bros. Replay Value- Super Smash Bros. Am I missing anything? Well, PS All Stars puts up a brave fight so don’t get me wrong, but it really did not stand a chance against Super Smash Bros. I hate to say it, but it will never beat Super Smash at its own game. (Especially if Pac Man, Sonic, and Mega Man are really here to stay) Sony just needs to play to their strength sand make a 3D fighting crossover game instead. Now that would be interesting to compare with Super Smash Bros. Especially since a lot of people are pulling for Nintendo to make the next installment in 3D…much to fans’ horror.
Overall, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is a solid fighting game that is destined to stay hidden in Nintendo’s shadow. The title is a little too long for my taste, but it shall have to do. I am glad that Sony tried to challenge Nintendo with this title and the roster isn’t bad. It definitely needs work, but it’s fun to see these characters meet up in such a unique game. The gameplay actually is a lot of fun. It’s not the kind of game where you’ll put in 100+ hours, but you can definitely pass the time by here. The game just needed more gameplay options for you to play around with. At least there is a lot of content to keep you busy here. The game needs to work a little more in the graphics area as well as add some more songs to the soundtrack. A real story mode would be nice even if those are rare in fighting games like this one. I’ve heard that the online is pretty laggy, but I haven’t experienced that so far. I definitely recommend this game to all fighting fans and just think of it as the next TMNT Smash Up or Cartoon Explosion. The gameplay may be modeled after Super Smash Bros, but it feels more like those other two games. Try to get to level 999 and let me know how long it took you!