Developer: SuperBot Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
As I stand in line for All-Stars, one poor soul walks past and, puzzled, turns to his friend: ”Why is Kratos in the new Smash Bros. game?”. Whilst comparisons to Nintendo’s mascot mash-up are, infuriatingly for Sony, hopelessly inevitable, they are also completely justified; as you’d probably have imagined, the two games look very similar, and play almost identically.
As an avid Super Smash Bros. fan, I was keen to get some alone time with Sony’s latest beat-em-up. Luckily, there were booths everywhere – this was possibly Sony’s most-pushed game of EGXP 2012 – so I didn’t have to wait for too long. A rep – henceforth known as Adam – was frantically rushing around, trying to set up and co-ordinate the multitude of 4-player LAN games that were simultaneously taking place, often being hindered by technical issues and PS3 crashes. After a somewhat convoluted setup, I got to play a five minute round with three members of the unassuming public who were, presumably, blissfully unaware of my unparalleled beat-em-up skills.
Four-player LAN games worked using two PS3 systems with two players on each console, a feature that “should” make it into the final build, according to Adam. Using the Vita as a controller, players could pick from any of Fat Princess, Toro, Kratos, Sweet Tooth, Nathan Drake, Mael Radec and Cole MacGrath. Or, as our brand-impaired friend from earlier might say: Fat Princess Peach, K.K Slider, Pit-on-Steroids, Ganondorf-on-fire, and that dude from Tomb Raider.
I went for Kratos, figuring that, out of the six, he’d play most similarly to my SSB main: Link. There were a few stages to choose from, but Adam insisted that we play on the God of War-themed Hades. So we did. When the stage loaded up, I was blown away by how good the game looked; backgrounds are interesting and dynamic with gorgeous texture work and lighting, whilst the foreground is impeccably detailed, filling me with excitement for the eventual Smash Bros. Wii U.
As I mentioned earlier, the game plays frighteningly similar to SSB with two slight differences. For starters, characters have three sets of attacks rather than Smash Bros.’ two. However, these are simply referred to as Attack 1, Attack 2 and Attack 3 rather than Standard/Special attacks. The main difference comes in the form of what Adam liked to call “Super Specials”, triggered by pressing L1 and R1 at the same time. Though similar to Brawl’s Final Smash moves, Super Specials are different in the way one acquires them: simply by landing hits on the opposition. A bar – which is split up into three segments – builds up with each successful hit. Fill the first bar and you’ve got yourself a powerful attack. Fill the second bar, you’re doing some serious damage. Fill the third bar and you’re probably at risk of blowing up a hospital in Estonia.
Controls weren’t quite as precise as, say, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but all of the characters were well-balanced, the gameplay was super-fun and the stages actually looked to be a step up from Nintendo’s fighter; I had a blast. Also, I won.
With the overwhelming consumer interest on display for Nintendo’s Wii U, Sony were really playing up the cross-play aspects of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, with Battle Royale being the flagship title.
“We’ve got total cross-play functionality. You could be anywhere in the world with your Vita and be playing head-to-head with someone on their PS3.”
The only problem is, the Vita really didn’t add anything to the gameplay. It literally just showed the same action as the main TV screen, and gave you the option to trigger Specials by swiping the rear touchpad from left to right. That’s it. The main draw for the cross-play feature is the ability to transfer save data and also directly compete between PS3 and Vita, which are really neat features.
If you’re looking for a main, Radec seemed to be kicking some serious ass.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale launches November 2012.