More Than a Copy

Newcomer Superbot Entertainment dips into the Playstation pantheon and delivers a brawler with a familiar look, but a feel all its own with Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale
Author: Vincent Ingenito
Published: April 27, 2012
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I hate Super Smash Bros.. There, I said it!

Now granted, I'm more than just a little snobby when it comes to fighting games. But from a casual perspective, I find it too chaotic and random to be at all fun, and from a competitive standpoint, it's a game so broken that its community had to ban features, characters and stages just to make it viable. Even then, the game's strategic depth is oft questioned by members of the fighting game scene. So when rumors started circulating that Sony was working on their answer to Smash Bros, I almost strained my eyes from rolling them so hard. But after spending over an hour with Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale, not only am I pleasantly surprised, I'm actually giddy with excitement over it. How could that be, considering how much I dislike Smash Bros.? The answer is simple:

Despite some obvious similarities, it's a completely different game.

Allow me to elaborate. Yes, Battle Royale is a 4 player, 2D fighting game featuring characters plucked from nearly two decades of Playstation games. Yes, players compete to have the highest number of knockouts by the end of the round. And yes, all moves are done by pressing a direction and an attack button. But to say it's a copy of Smash Bros. is about as accurate as saying that King of Fighters is a copy of Street Fighter, or that Sonic is a copy of Mario. While Battle Royale will be easy to jump into for anyone familiar with the Smash formula, there are so many things that make it a different experience, that calling it a knock off would not only be inaccurate, it would be an injustice.

The differences start with the controls, which while similar, allow for a larger move set than its Nintendo counterpart. Pressing the square, triangle and circle buttons by themselves or with a directional input results in different special moves. This essentially represents two to three times the possible attacks available as compared to Smash. The added moves significantly expand your strategic options without making the game any more mechanically demanding. It's a boon for both casual players who simply want more variety to hold their interest, and competitive players who find the tactical limitations of Smash's controls hobbling.

Speaking of strategy and tactics, Battle Royale's combat system accommodates a much wider range of playstyles than the Smash series does. The primary reason for this is the unique scoring system. The idea is still to score more kills than your opponents by the time the battle ends, but kills are scored in a completely different way from similar style games. There are no health bars, no bottomless pits, and no screen edges to get knocked off of. The only way to score a kill in Battle Royale is to use one of your character's three super moves.

As you land successful attacks or get hit, your AP meter fills. When it fills once, you have access to your level 1 super, which you can fire off using the R2 button, or you can continue to fill the bar to build up to your level 2 or 3 supers. Each is a unique attack with different properties. Even the level 1's are a good time, but the level 3's are spectacular affairs, calling on a character's most iconic moves and moments from their history. Racking up kills with these attacks feels really gratifying, and will doubtlessly cause much pumping of the fist, and talking of the smack.

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