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‘PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale’: A massively fun reunion

I have been looking forward to “PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale” for a long time.

Much was drawing me to this game. There was being able to play cross-platform between the Vita and PlayStation 3 and the cross-buy program giving you a Vita and a PS3 game for the price of one PS3 title. And, most of all, there’s the amalgamation of all my favorite Sony characters into one arena.

I was a big fan of “Super Smash Bros.” on Nintendo and I had always wished I could extend that experience to my friends in the Sony universe. There will be some who will rag on “All-Stars,” saying that it’s just a clone, which I admit, it is. Both feature favorite characters from a popular game system fighting each other in all sorts of wild settings. But that’s what fans were hoping for. We wanted a well-made clone with PlayStation characters.

I have to say, this game delivers in every way I was hoping for. As a result, I’m happy to announce that this game will receive my first A+ rating.

Addiction level: A

This game grabbed me from the moment I started playing and just wouldn’t let go.

The first of my addictive tendencies were engaged when I saw the character lineup. They range from Kratos from “God of War” to Nathan Drake from “Uncharted” to the stars of “Ratchet & Clank.” There were many that I was pleasantly surprised to find included, and few I was disappointed to discover were left out. That’s not so bad, though, as the development team has already announced two future downloadable characters. I can easily see them including old favorites from my nostalgic PS1 days as DLC.

The animations are smooth and the moves are satisfying. Character have been customized with the abilities seen in their own games, but all mapped to the same controller scheme. This means that you can pick up any character and you don’t have to relearn the controls even though you get to experience new moves.

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“All-Stars” has also included an aspect that you’re finding in a lot of multiplayer games today: goals. Don’t get these confused with trophies, there are still plenty of trophies to be had, but the goals are fulfilled by completing different tasks in the game to get bonus experience. You have daily as well as lifetime goals that are more extensive and offer a much bigger experience payout. For instance, there’s a daily goal called “Variety.” “Variety I” is playing with two different characters in a day,” Variety II” comes after playing three characters in a day, and “Variety III” is playing five different characters in a day. Each of these provide significant experience boosts and there are even more items you can acquire to modify levelling. And believe me, with a level limit of at least 300, you need all the help you can get.

Edge of Your Seat: A+

One of the biggest advantages this game has is that pretty much every battle is compelling and exciting.

You can only earn points by using your Super attacks against an opponent and you can only use Super attacks after you’ve built up enough action points. The only way to build up action points is by hitting each other.

This is one of my favorite features of “All-Stars.” It forces you to use your Super attacks in a way that discourages hoarding. You have three levels of super attacks, each one doing a different thing. For instance, Sweet Tooth’s level-2 super attack is a guided missile while Kratos’ is a vertically extended tornado.

Another advantage this game has over other smash-type games is that you always have a chance to come back from losing and, if you do it right, you’ll come back very quickly. I was playing an online ranked match and was in dead last place with 20 seconds left, I tied it up in the last second and sent us all into overtime. When overtime ended, I won the match by 7 points.

Uniqueness: A

What makes “PlayStation All-Stars” unique isn’t its gameplay; it’s the mechanics and the characters.

The development team added another level to the smash-style games with the super-move kills. You can’t just keep beating someone with a baseball bat until they go flying off the map. The beating won’t make a difference until someone uses a super attack.

The characters alone are fun enough. If you’ve wondered how Nathan Drake would fair against Evil Cole from “Infamous,” Nariko from “Heavenly Sword” and Sweet Tooth from “Twisted Metal,” well, this is your playground.

Additionally, pulling in the individual characters’ abilities from their own games while still making the game playable is impressive. When Evil Cole starts lobbing electric-fire grenades, Nathan Drake will tip over a column on him, but only to have Nariko drop on him with her earth raising swords. And it all works fluidly.

Walk Away Experience: A+

I’m going to have a hard time putting this game on my shelf. It’s fast paced enough that you can get a full three or four matches done in a reasonable amount of time, but it doesn’t get old. So if you have more than just 15 minutes to play, you’ll still find the game as engaging in hour 2 as you did in minute 15.

Bottom line: A+ One thing’s for sure, I’ll be recommending this game to anyone who enjoyed “Super Smash Bros.” and I have a feeling you’ll find me online for a long time to come.

Platforms: PlayStation 3 (tested on), PlayStation Vita

Online: www.playstationallstarsbattleroyale.com

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