Thursday, July 12, 2012

SDCC 2012 : Playstation All Stars Battle Royale - Impressions


As you may or may not have heard, Sony has decided to come out with it’s own game that meshes its various franchises together for epic battles in arenas from all it’s various franchises. The game is in fact a Playstation version of Super Smash Brothers.

Many comparisons are drawn to Super Smash Brothers for good reason. The game is in a 3D engine like Smash Brothers but takes place in a 2D fighting plane, only going up, down, left and right. The controls are simplistic, move around the environment and battle it out against up to 3 other players. You have 3 attack buttons, a super attack button, jump button and a block button. Pressing different directions for your attack buttons will yield different attacks unique to each character. This all sounds very similar to Super Smash Brothers and executes very similarly so if you have any idea how to play Super Smash Brothers then you will have a good idea how to move around and attack.

The difference comes in how you defeat other players. There are no “percentages” which determine how far an opponent in flung around the arena. The goal of the game isn’t to knock people off, but just to defeat them. However there is no life bar either, so how do you defeat them when it’s not knocking them off the arena or taking out their life bar? Well the frustrating thing is, I didn’t know at the time I played. I just kept attacking others and hoped it would take them out. It was only after I read an article of impressions on Playstation All Stars that I discovered you could only take opponents out by using a Super Move.

Super Moves are only usable when you gain levels of super meter, up to 3 bars. 1 bar yields a super attack, but 2 bars yields a better, larger one, and 3 let’s you use your ultimate ability. Since these are the only ways of actually earning a KO on an opponent, then there becomes a great importance on gaining super meter and saving it up to earn a bunch of KOs at once. However this also leads to the problem of your normal attacks basically doing nothing to an opponent and gaining meter being your only reward.

Since I didn’t have that much time with the game (yet) its hard to say whether this is a good or bad thing. But my initial thoughts have been that it was not obvious I had to use those and Super attacks are as obvious to see on screen. There are no flashy effects appearing to designate someone is using a super attack so it will take some time to get used to what certain character’s super attacks are.

Character Impressions

The character selection comes from a wide variety of Playstation titles (not all of them exclusive to Playstation games). There is Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Kratos from God of war, Heihachi Mishima from Tekken, Fat Princess from… Fat Princess, Sly Cooper, Helghast from Killzone, etc. There were about 10 characters available in my demo (can't remember them all) and though I only got to play as Nathan Drake and Kratos, they played pretty differently and unleashed moves that bring homage to their games.

I had the most time with Drake and he played as a mix of melee and range. He had access to a handgun, and machine gun as the default attack for two attack buttons. His other attack button I was able to use hand to hand moves, do  a drop kick when in the air and also toss a grenade upwards that explodes after a short amount of time. I can’t quite remember all of the moves but it reminds me a lot of Solid Snake’s playstyle in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. It would be weird if Snake also got in this game and see how the two characters would be different.  His Super attacks consisted of a really powerful explosive (This probably isn’t right, I can’t remember everything from the play session) for his level 1, and his level 2 consisting of pushing over a large pillar onto enemies nearby (This is right though). I never got to use his level 3 so I am not sure.

Kratos on the otherhand plays as viciously as his normal counterpart. He has access to his Blades up close for one attack button and can extend them into chains to unleash far reaching blade attacks in another. He also has access to a bow on his third button, able to rapidly fire arrows which slowly gain meter when hitting. I only had less than a minute to play him so I don’t recall any of his supers (Someone was playing and just stopped so I just continued from where he left the game paused).

Both seemed like fun characters but either I wasn’t pressing all the buttons in different directions, or there weren’t that many moves to choose from. I don’t believe it’s possible to “SMASH” the direction pad or stick like in Smash Brothers, since that gave you access to additional attack in Smash Bros, here it didn’t seem to work so I wasn’t able to use as many attacks. I can’t say 100% if this is true or not since I had a total of about 5 minutes to play.

Closing Thoughts

If I get my hands on the game again I am going to try those, look for more Super attacks and look at the amount of meter gained between the different attack buttons. I have a good suspicion that attack button 1 is close range, attack button 2 is mid range attacks and attack button 3 is long range, and that button 1 gives you the most meter while button 3 gives you the least. I will try and confirm this.

Nevertheless the game was still fun and its more interesting looking at it in hindsight then I did while playing the game. I need to dig in the mechanics to see more on how it works and the importance of building up meter and such. That’s it for now though, hope you enjoyed the impressions.

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