The beta for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has been live in North America for a couple of weeks now, for a number of Playstation 3 owners, and having spent some time with the beta ourselves recently, we figured it was time to post up some early impressions of how the game is shaping up.
The beta includes six playable characters, consisting of Sly Cooper, Parappa the Rapper, Kratos, Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess and Radec. It’s a decent enough mix of recognizable PlayStation branded characters, and certainly gives you a good idea of what to expect out of the remainder of the roster that was recently leaked but hasn’t been officially revealed as of yet. We know that there will be some third-party characters present too, but the first party offerings are certainly shaping up to be what you’d expect from Sony.
There are also three playable stages included in the beta, consisting of the dual franchise worlds previously revealed. There’s Dreamscape, which is a mash-up of Little Big Planet and Buzz, Hades featuring God of War and Patapon, and finally Sandover Village, taken from Jak and Daxter along with Hot Shots Golf. I really, really love the concept of these stages, which feature a number of interactive elements that feel unique and represent their given games quite well. The quiz show bit of Buzz in particular stands out, which features multiple choice questions throughout the stage that require you to be in the right spot for your answer, which generally leads to some fierce battles for position while the timer is active.
Control wise everything feels pretty good so far. There’s three distinct attack buttons for each character, along with a block, taunt, and the ability to double jump. While the game is certainly directly comparable to Nintendo’s Smash Bros. franchise, the execution is a little different. Attacking with normal attacks only serves the purpose of building up your super meter, and there’s no way to knock characters off of any give stage to their death. Instead, the only real way to defeat a foe is to use your super attacks, which come in three stages. Some of the supers do feel a little unbalanced, and certain level 3’s don’t allow for the same mobility that others do. But the concept behind most of the super’s really fit their characters well, like Parappa’s awesome beat matching level 3 for instance.
The characters available to play as, in general, feel really great and come with a move set that makes sense. It might be hard to wrap your head around a game that features Kratos fighting Sly Cooper, or Sweet Tooth battling it out against Parappa, but even with their very distinct styles it somehow mashes up to be a pretty satisfying experience. Certain characters take some adjusting to, but other characters, like Kratos and Sweet Tooth, are very easy to jump into and figure out. They also come with a pretty wide variety of moves with variations performed by directional input plus the three attack buttons, and all characters move fast enough to keep the combat fun and exciting.
Being a beta there’s definitely some issues to iron out on the technical side of things. When a match connects, it tends to work flawlessly without any real noticeable lag. But on occasion I’d lose control of my character while everyone else around me is still up and moving, meaning that I just sit there and take punishment without being able to do anything at all. Eventually I’ll drop out of the game, or I can back out myself, but it’s certainly annoying when it happens.
Actually getting a game to connect is also a little troublesome at the moment, and I find myself constantly needing to search and search again for a match before I can actually get one started. I’m also not sure that the scoring system is going to be clear enough for entry level players, as the game factors in kills and deaths into a point system that doesn’t give off a lot of details at the end of the match.
But again, this is a beta, so there’s certainly time for the kinks to be ironed out. What really matters is how the game plays, which at the moment seems to be pretty great. I’ll be really curious to check this out once the full version is available, with the entire roster and stage selection present. Will this be able to give Smash Bros. a run for its money? Time will tell on that, but Sony definitely seems to have something fun for fans with this one.