November 20th keeps getting closer and closer, leaving people all the more excited for Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. The title is supposed to act like a “Sony Smash Bros” of sorts, bringing the popular fighting experience to fans of Sony’s empire. Instead of getting to use cute pokemon and iconic italian plumbers, you will get to use little sacks and handsome treasure hunters. Needless to say, almost every Sony fan is amped; I want to place emphasis on the “almost” in the previous sentence.
Sure, I kind of feel like the odd one out when it comes to Playstation All-Stars. Unlike the majority of Sony fans, I am not very excited for it. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I just can’t seem to get into the mindset where I am like “Oh man, I can’t wait to get my hands on this title!” like I do with plenty of other PS3 titles. It might have something to do with the fact that it is a blatant Super Smash Bros. ripoff (which usually means it will make me want to play the game it’s based off of more), or it might have to do with the fact that the character roster seems a bit bland to me (outside of the likes of Raiden and Nathan Drake; I like those guys). Though, I think one of the biggest reasons that I can’t get into the idea of playing Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is because after looking at the gameplay mechanics, I doubt that it will be able to host a stable competitive community.
Now, I know that sounded kind of bad. I can see all of the hate now. Everyone’s going to start screaming at me and will group me with the people who track their Uncharted 3 and Modern Warfare 3 kill-death ratio like it’s a religion, but that would be a complete misunderstanding. In fact, I don’t care about ratios or stats. All of those things are quite silly. What I do care about with a game like this is that it has a stable online community that has a competitive scene available to those who wish to partake. I don’t think this is much different than most fighting titles.
Fighting games are usually driven by their online capabilities. While things like a deep fighting mechanics are key to making a successful fighting game, the other biggest thing is usually the capability to take your skills online and pumel a couple of noobs. When you look at the core of fighting games, you can see this come to light. In most of the core fighting games, consisting of Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive, and Virtua Fighter, online aspects are a key component to their success. It usually doesn’t come down to a player’s specific statistics either. I know that I didn’t even care if I had far more losses than I had wins. The main thing people look for is that a game has a stable gameplay model that makes online fighting fair. Things like life bars make this happen. Though since Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is more like Super Smash Brothers, let’s go ahead and compare it to that.
The Super Smash Bros. Brawl competitive scene was one that was full of life when the game came out. In-fact, it was the scene that brought me to the internet and started my career as a gaming journalist. However, that is besides the point. People had been playing Super Smash Bros. on their Nintendo 64s and Gamecubes for years, with no ability to take their skills online. While people did go to offline tournaments, that was just a little too difficult for some people to do. This spawned the Brawl online community. As anyone who has played Smash Bros. online knows, people are very strict about what conditions are allowed to create a “fair” match. Rules were created such as “stock only”, “approved fair stages”, “counterpicks” (for best 2 of 3 matches), and “final destination only” matches (the games most neutral stage). Brawl players even went as far as to ban Metaknight from competitive play because he was “too good”. If you can’t tell by now, everyone just want’s their game to be fair, and the biggest way SSBB does this is stock battles. By using stock, games are based completely on skill rather than things like time, points, and health bars. Now let’s look at PS All Stars.
From what Superbot has revealed, the core gameplay in Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale (gosh, I will never get over how long and laborious that is to say and type) is a little bit strange when compared to other fighting titles. Instead of utilizing a health bar or using a certain amount of stock, you will have a bar that builds up when you deal more damage to your opponents. By smashing their face in, you can build up your bar. As soon as your bar fills up, you either have the choice to use your special attack, or continue saving until you reach a level 2 or 3 special. Once you use a special, you have the chance to score points during the round. You can only score points by using these specials. That’s how the core gameplay works, anyways. When heading online, you have the choice to do a few other modes, but it really doesn’t change anything. The whole concept of only being able to score points and kill enemies creates a system where certain characters will have significant advantages over others (That’s not to say that some characters aren’t better than others in general fighting games, but these differences will be significant). If you choose a character that automatically kills when it gets a special, you will have a significant advantage over someone who uses a character whose special takes special timing or precise aiming. It all just seems like it is going to be a clusterfuck of unbalanced gameplay that will leave people saying “Um, what the hell is this…?”. Well, the people who want to play competitively anyways.
No matter how I look at it, I don’t see Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale supporting a competitive scene. Sure, people may go online to fight and such, but it will never get to the magnitude that Super Smash Bros. Brawl got to, and not even close to that of the main fighting franchises like Tekken, Street Fighter and Dead or Alive. I could see PS All Stars being fun in a casual sense, but that is the extent to which people will play it. I just can’t see that complex of a gameplay style ever catching on as something that people find very fun. I mean, if they went ahead and made it so there was a competitive mode that was similar to the “Stamina” mode in SSBB where you beat the orbs out of each other then sure, I could get into that. However, as it stands now, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale will remain a casual title for Sony fans to enjoy in their free time.
Oh, and if you have reasoning to think that it will support a competitive scene, by all means tell me in the comments section below. I would love to find a way to get hype for this game.