PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale review & gameplay video – Fighty fan-fest has the chops, but not the ambition
A PlayStation pantomime it promised, and for better or worse, that’s exactly what Battle Royale delivers. In many ways this is a charming addition to the groaning PS3 library, but with the game sticking to a very safe blueprint, the novelty of seeing Colonel Radec and Sly Cooper brawling in Uncharted 3’s cargo plane quickly wears thin.
Update: All the latest PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale screens
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale review
Over-arching downer aside: Superbot Entertainment takes the Super Smash Bros blueprint and – with an artisan approach to fan service – serves up a four-way scrapper that celebrates PlayStation’s most recognisable people and places (and Spike from Ape Escape).
Watching levels change mid-round and throw more knowing references at you is a unique pleasure: Parappa’s Dojo is ripped apart by a Helghast MAWLR mech for your viewing delight, and the LittleBigPlanet/Buzz mashup is a clever and enjoyable moment.
Fighting itself is simple enough. All 20 characters boast a few trademark moves that rouse a wry smile or two, and kicking, punching and shooting are all dealt with using triangle or square and a direction. Land a lot of attacks and you’ll fill your Super meter, firing level 1-3 Supers to kill others by tying them all to a giant rocket (Heihachi) or flattening all who fall beneath your skateboard (Parappa).
Sadly, though, there’s an irritating delay when dealing attacks, and when you’re trying to compensate for that in a retina-melting arena environment while three tiny blurs of furious colour attack you in unison, it’s all too easy to lose track of who or where you are, let alone whether you nailed the previous three button-presses of your desired combo.
The camera’s dynamic zooming is probably the chief culprit here, although admittedly it’s been a pitfall of Super Smash Bros, too – just not to this extent. Worse, the absence of any score tally until the round finishes is just a perplexing design choice – even if it is one that bafflingly fits the genre’s conventions. It robs the game of any real tension, and contributes to the feeling of disorganised random violence.
While it might be over-simplistic to say fighting fans should stick to brawlers and Nathan Drake fans should look to Uncharted for their fix, this Battle Royale satisfies only as a likeable PlayStation cabaret and ‘what if’ battle generator. Despite its efforts to add depth to combat, it simply doesn’t have the longevity or ambition to justify its existence as a full-price boxed title. It nails the charm, and technically only camera-driven disorientation mars an otherwise polished scrapper – but moments like that impromptu quiz in the Imagisphere are sadly just too few and far between to keep you coming back for more.