Sony recently released a PS3 beta of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale to PlayStation Plus subscribers in the US on Oct. 16. All PlayStation Vita users could also download the beta. As a Cross-Play title, it was important for Sony and SuperBot Entertainment to have both consoles test the game’s multiplayer component. The beta was available until Oct. 30 and a month before the title’s Nov. 20 release date. The beta was meant to help SuperBot Entertainment load test the game’s servers before its release. Since the beta acts as a way to see how the servers will handle the player load, that means that the game is in its final build. Thus, the way the game plays currently is indicative of how the controls and mechanics will work on its retail release. With that in mind, it is possible to decide whether Sony’s mascot brawler will be worth picking up this Holiday season.
The beta itself naturally features a multiplayer section and a tutorial section. It was nice to have the short tutorial included so that players could orient themselves to the controls and moves that PlayStation All-Stars uses. The tutorial is short and quickly goes through the paces. It begins with simple movements using the left thumb stick then moves into the jump and double jump. After that, it teaches the player the basic moves using triangle, circle and square. Each of those 3 moves has an additional 3 moves that are performed by adding up, down and left or right. This gives the player a big arsenal of moves to use during matches. Then the tutorial shows the fine tunings of blocking and dodging attacks by using L1 for blocks and L1 plus a direction to dodge an attack. Any attack can be dodged, even super attacks, as long as the player has good timing. The player can also throw other characters using the right thumb stick, damaging the opponent and causing them to drop orbs that charge the super bar. Lastly, there is the Super Attack that is performed by pressing R2. There are 3 levels and each additional level improves the potency of the Super Attack. A Super Attack is an instant kill for anyone that it catches. The controls are fairly smooth in the tutorial and playing around during the lessons gives players a good opportunity to orient themselves to the mechanics. However, not having the option to select any of the other five playable characters from the Beta is a bit of a letdown because it means that players have to learn each character’s moves and handling during battle. For most characters like Kratos and Radec that is not a problem as they are more combat based, but for characters like Sly Cooper and Fat Princess whose styles are a bit different, it becomes a bit difficult to utilize them properly in a match against three Kratoses.
The multiplayer matches themselves are as chaotic as one might expect from this type of four-person battle. As stated before, there are six characters that the player can choose from for these online matches: Kratos, Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess, Sly Cooper, Radec and PaRappa the Rappa. It does give a decent amount of variety to the matches, but most people chose to play as Kratos or Radec. Playing matches against three different Kratoses or Radecs can get stale quickly. That should not be a problem in the full game because there will be plenty more variety to choose from. The matches ran smoothly, although sometimes it would only be three players fighting it out because either the four quit or were dropped from the match. In addition, as a test for the servers, some people were unable to connect to a match at all. The combat is fun and frenetic. Battles move very quickly with each player throwing different chains and combos at each other. In combat though, the smoothness of movement from the tutorial is slightly muddled at times due to the camera zoom out and sometimes feels a bit chunky (No Fat Princess). While it is possible to kill a character without a Super Attack, it is less practical than using one of the three Super Attacks. Ultimately, what these matches may come down to is players waiting to charge a level 3 Super Attack and then wiping out the map and getting all the points. Even though that may be the worst-case scenario, it is not a guaranteed victory either because smartly using level 1 supers can rack up points quickly for the player who employs that strategy.
Despite some early red flags that the PlayStation All-Stars Beta raises, the beta does reveal that the game should be plenty of fun to play with friends online or offline. It will be exciting to get into the combat with a more open roster. Hopefully, despite the weekly reveals that SuperBot makes, there are still some surprises left for gamers who pick up the Sony brawler regardless of what SuperBot or other PR representatives say to the contrary. It will be disappointing if there is not a single playable character from the Final Fantasy series. Oh, but what about the Super Smash Bros. of it all? Yes, there are plenty of similarities between PlayStation All-Stars and the Nintendo fighter. The controls are similar with the exception that the PS3 controller allows for some extra moves. The levels featured in the Beta seem to work on the same principle where eventually the battleground will shift up or try to hurt players. Items work very much in the same as well. The two games have plenty of similarities and PlayStation All-Stars will always been seen as a clone because simply Nintendo did it first (in a way that is how it should be). However, much like Sony’s LittleBigPlanet Karting, what PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale does is provide competition to Nintendo. Competition is never a bad thing especially for the gamers because it will force both to innovate to stay relevant. Even more importantly, it has been years since Super Smash Bros. Brawl and there is space for another mascot fighter in the market.
To see Gaming Illustrated’s earlier preview of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, click here.