It came as quite a shock to PlayStation fans across the globe (myself included) when Sony unveiled the existence of a Smash Bros-eqsue fighting game called PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.
And, it came as even more of a shock to discover that it performed much more poorly than its pedigree would have suggested it might, the original PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale received mixed critical responses and any hopes of a PlayStation All Stars sequel for the PS4 swiftly being put on hold. And yet, PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale 2 remains an object of much scrutiny, the original game displaying enough promise and enjoyment to make the notion of a follow-up relatively enticing.
Whispers of a PS4 PlayStation All Stars sequel have been floating through the gamer-sphere for quite some time now – even as early as E3 2013. Speaking to IGN on Podcast Beyond, Sony’s own Shuhei Yoshida said “never say never” when asked about the possibility of a PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale 2. While certainly not the most optimistic of outlooks, it wasn’t an outright “no,” and showed us that even Sony themselves weren’t sure what to do with the property.
But how should a PlayStation All Stars sequel look? How should it play, and which characters should make a return? If the first game is anything to go by, then the amount of work that needs putting into PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale 2 is rather minimal – the original was fun, lively and showed great love for the characters and properties present. That being said, there’s always room for improvement, right?
Everyone from Sackboy to Kratos has been lauded as the best PlayStation All Stars character at one point or another, and there’s a reason for that. This PlayStation exclusive was an incredible display of the power of PlayStation mascots, leveraging Sony’s very best brands and appealing to virtually every type of gamer. There were even a number of significant third-party inclusions, such as BioShock’s Big Daddy and Devil May Cry’s Dante.
The fact that no one fighter was definitively ‘the best PlayStation All Stars character’ means that the sequel could take a range of different paths. Any character could get the chop, and any character could be added. The most obvious candidate for inclusion is PS1 icon Crash Bandicoot, though several rights issues may make this harder than it seems. Elsewhere, there’s Knack, Lara Croft, Joel and Spyro, who could all bring a unique moveset to the sequel and would slot in nicely alongside the first game’s roster.
This was the single most divisive element of the first game, and it’s something that PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale 2 must work hard to rectify. Credit where credit is due, the fighting system present in the series is wholly original and isn’t just a copy and paste from All Stars’ obvious competitor, Nintendo’s Smash Bros.
This system revolves around building up a meter, adding points to it by attacking other players. Once your meter is full – you can fill it one, two or three times – you can unleash a level one, two or three special attack, which is the only way to K.O. your opponents. The higher the level, the more damage the attack will inflict, and level three attacks usually crush everything on the screen, where level one attacks are focused on a single enemy.
For me, the best PlayStation All Stars character was Ape Escape’s Spike, given the brutal nature of his level three attack. This universe-destroying move killed every single enemy that was on-screen and was impossible to dodge. However, therein lies the game’s biggest problem. You could stay well back from the fight, taking potshots with a rifle or grenade, and build up to a level three attack without much effort. It was far too easy to kill with and defend yourself from a level three super attack, and a PlayStation All Stars sequel must alter this system slightly.
I’d suggest that your meter also allows you to defend yourself from attacks, rather than just being used as an offensive tool. This would add a great level of strategy to the fights; do I use my super attack, or do I hoard my full meter so I can protect myself from an impending assault? I’m sure you’re reading this now Shuhei – you can mail me my cheque!
At best, it was serviceable, and at worst, it was borderline laughable. All Stars’ campaign mode was an incredibly brief, feeble attempt at working these beloved characters together into a coherent plot. It wasn’t really much of a campaign mode, per say; it was a series of fights held together by a plotline so thin that you could literally see it crumbling during each cutscene.
Why not give us a truly great fighting game campaign mode? It’s not like they’re uncommon; far from it! Injustice: Gods Among Us, King of Fighters, BlazBlue, Dissidia… the list goes on. Perhaps a greater focus on the singleplayer experience would help the game appeal to a broader gaming audience, boosting those sales and critic ratings. As it stands, PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale requires an internet connection or multiple controllers to be enjoyed fully.
So, in short, PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale 2 needs to give us more of the same – with just a few minor tweaks. While you wait for the sequel to arrive, why not check out some of the original game’s characters, like Ratchet & Clank and Nathan Drake, in their own standalone adventures?