Yes, that title is a mouthful. Yes, this is a Sony-centric version of Super Smash Bros. Yes, it does seem cheesy at times. And, yes, it’s a ton of fun (in the right situation).
Combining characters from games that are either mainstays on the PlayStation or PlayStation exclusives, PAS:BR is a fast and frenetic brawler. The objective is to take out your opponents, and to do that you build up your “AP” (attack power) meter. Once you’ve filled it, up to three times, you can unleash a devastating special move that has the potential to wipe the battlefield clear.
The characters run the gamut from the expected (Kratos from God of War) to logical (Nathan Drake from Uncharted) to whimsical (Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet) to head-scratching (PaRappa from PaRappa the Rapper). Each has their own unique fighting style and special move, and learning them to find which playstyle works best for you can be fun. The levels all have a nod to various Sony games, but also have a twist. For example the dojo from PaRappa is destroyed to reveal a massive battle scene from Killzone. Sometimes, however, the inclusions seem to be too blatant an attempt at cross-merchandising various Sony properties.
There’s a single-player storymode that basically serves as an extended tutorial, preparing you for the real point to the game: multiplayer. The multiplayer in PAS:BR is fast, furious, fun and at times both confusing and frustrating. At times there is so much happening on-screen that it can be hard to keep track of the action. And, the level one special moves can be interrupted which can be a source of frustration.
However, with a group of friends playing all together in the same room, the game is an absolute blast. The expected tough-talk, good-natured joking, and the occasional “What the … how the heck did you do that?!” exclamation will all happen quite naturally. The game also supports online play, but you’ll want to have a good, solid connection because any amount of lag can mean the difference between winning and losing in a game that moves this fast. Matchmaking through the online service is quick and easy, though the disparate level of skills sometimes on display by various players is staggering.
Also of note is the Cross-Play feature. If you have a PlayStation Vita, you will be able to play against other players on their PS3, and you’ll also be able to take PAS:BR on-the-go with you. The control scheme for the Vita is a bit unintuitive due to the unit only having single shoulder buttons, requiring you to tap the touchscreen to perform certain actions. It’s awkward, not to mention a bad idea to remove your hand from the controls during a fighting game like this.
While definitely an attempt to bring the concept of “Mascot Fighting” to the PlayStation, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale (seriously, Sony, what’s with the title?!) makes some bold gameplay choices and mostly gets them right. Battles can be difficult to keep track of at times, and pulling off the special moves can be tricky. But the game is a lot of fun with the right crowd, as a social experience, and online play is is fun if you have a good connection.