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SDCC 2012: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale Hands-On Preview
Ever since the very first trailer debuted a few months back, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale developer SuperBot Entertainment has had to live with the shadow of one of the most revered mash-up brawlers ever hanging over its head. I speak, of course, of the Super Smash Bros. franchise and its uncanny similarities to Sony's new brawler. Nobody on the team will deny that the two games are very similar, but as I discovered in my hands-on session with Battle Royale at Comic Con, "similar" does not mean "exactly the same," and there could quite easily be room for two very similar franchises to coexist and feed off of each other in a healthy way.
I previewed Battle Royale the only way appropriate; with three other bloodthirsty players by my side. Although SuperBot announced two new characters at their panel earlier this morning, neither of them were playable today. Lacking the option to play as Cole, I chose Fat Princess instead. My opponents chose Kratos, Radec, and Big Daddy. After character selection, we were whisked away to the Littlebigplanet arena, the only level on the show floor. As the level built itself around us, the battle began.
I initially experienced some confusion at the controls, having assumed them to be more or less an exact replica of those in Super Smash Bros. While it's true that the Square, Circle and Triangle buttons map to your various attacks just like in that other fighter, I was momentarily confused by the fact that you cannot simply tap up on the left stick to jump. Instead, you have to hit the X button. It took a few seconds to get used to as someone who has never used a button to jump in Super Smash Bros., but soon I was leaping and flying with the best of them (at least, to what little extend the rotund royalty could jump.)
In my experience, Fat Princess focused mainly on melee attacks. She used a parasol to lash out at enemies for her Square attack, while her Triangle attack was a slower, stronger variation on the strike. Her Circle attack was the most fun, but also the least accurate; with a tap of a button, one of the soldiers from the original Fat Princess game would be summoned to attack for me.
My enemies were powerful and cunning. Big Daddy used his drill to devestating effect, while Kratos' blades made a deadly whirlwind on the battlefield. Radec proved to be the most annoying here, though, as his weapons and explosives made for a deadly combination, especially in the hands of the skilled player who was commanding him. Kratos was the first to pop off one of his Super moves. I was able to stay out of the way long enough to avoid his deadly blade, which had become a one-hit kill, but the rest of the players weren't so lucky. Seconds later I responded in kind with a level two Super, which saw Fat Princess summoning a giant chicken for her to ride. Again, a hit from the chicken meant a one-hit kill.
As we fought, the level actually built itself around us. What had begun as a flat plateau now had a central platform in the center, upon which was built a large tree with four branches that functioned as little platforms. Water was built at either side of the level, and other platforms were soon added to that. Soon we had a fully featured combat arena on our hands, and the battle heated up more than ever.
The furious battle had all four players screaming, shouting, and vying for first. The chaotic action was tons of fun and frantic enough to keep all of us on our toes. Attacks were perhaps not quite as responsive as they could have been, although that very likely was just because I was playing Fat Princess, a slow but strong character. As Super moves began popping off left and right and new components were added to the level, it was all I could do to stay on top of the action.
When the time expired, we went into sudden death. It seemed that Radec and I had scored an equal number of kills. In sudden death, all four of the players were spawned back in and had around a minute or so to build their Super meters and take out as many opposing players as possible. For this reason, it's actually possible for a player to come back from last to first during a sudden death match. But in this case, I only had eyes for Radec. As the timer was about to expire, I popped my level two Super for a second time. I thought for sure that I had victory in my hand, but just as I activated my super, Radec activated his level two as well. In the chaos that followed, he came out one kill ahead just as the timer reached zero.
I may have landed a close second, but I still had a fantastic time brawling with Battle Royale. It may be similar to a few other games on the market, but SuperBot has managed to put a unique enough spin on the formula with their Supers that I hardly noticed. Come October, this will be one melee that Playstation fans owe it to themselves to check out.