So recently this month Gamefly offered me a $1 membership for a month. I usually wouldn't want to sign up with Gamefly as I like to purchase games and pretty much know what I want, BUT with the Wii U coming out I figured this would be a great way to try out some games that I know I wont buy (Sonic Racing, COD:BlOps 2, Tank Tank Tank). Anyway, I realized that while adding games to my "Q" that PSAllstars was coming out this past week. Being an avid and hardcore Smash Bros fan I figured, why not? I definitely wouldn't of bought this game because of the Smash Bros. similarities alone but renting it to play over a weekend sounds awesome to me, so I did! I invited one of my best friends, and Smash Bros. rival, over on Saturday night and we played for a good couple hours.
Disclaimer: I am not starting a Nintendo Fanboy/PS3 fanboy argument with this post. I am clearly wanting to state the pros/cons of a game that I was very interested to try out. Also for brevity I will begin to abbreviate Smash Bros (SB) and PSAllstars (PSA).
Ok, lets get to the blog......
First things first - This game DOES get ALMOST all of its inspiration from Smash Bros. Whoa, whoa curb your anger people, dont get mad. I really enjoyed playing this game and I am not simply shunning this game away because of that, but it is important to understand that fact. I'd be like saying Saints Row didn't get ALMOST all of its ideas from what GTA 3 did. C'mon people give credit where credit is due.
SB uses a percentage system to show your current health in regards to the other players, the higher your percentage, the higher your chance of death. PSA completely gets rid of health meters in exchange for gaining orbs to build up your "Super Meter" to get kills. The higher your Super Meter is the higher chance you have to get kills. This is the biggest way that PSA differentiates itself from SB (although SB does have Smash Balls). But my biggest problem with the Super Meter idea of PSA is that it makes the game more of a "who can charge up their Super's first and get a kill" more then "who can be more strategic and plan their attacks". You don't have to be as strategic in knocking people off levels or really worry about taking damage. PSA is missing those really tense moments in SB when you have over 200% damage while your opponent has under 50% and you have to carefully try and kill them without getting touched. I never felt much of a worry this way in PSA.
The levels in PSA are really cool. Instead of just representing a certain franchise they are mash-ups of multiple franchises (Uncharted/Bioshock i.e.). This is a really cool idea and most of the levels are downright rad. The only thing that bothered me is that the "interactivity" between levels and the danger that levels throw at you sometimes can be WAY TOO MUCH. Sometimes the levels are breaking, moving, changing, etc. SO MUCH that I cant even see whats going on. BUT, you can turn off "Level Danger" (called something different) in the options to stop all this if you want.
Maybe this will come across as picky but the dodge rolling in PSA is TERRIBLE. Using the dodge-roll in SB is an integral part of the game. It is mandatory to understand the idea behind dodging, item catching and sidestepping in a fast paced, 4 player game like this. In SB you can use a perfectly planned dodge-roll to outwit your opponent, roll behind them, grab them and throw them to their demise. But PSA has one major flaw, when you dodge-roll past your opponent your character is facing the OPPOSITE DIRECTION. This leaves you open for an attack and makes it impossible to grab your opponent, the major point of using the dodge-roll. This is one example of my biggest problem with PSA, fluidity. The beauty in SB is how elegant a battle can be. Some of my best buddies and I can play a match of Kirby vs. Jiggles and it seems like something out of a Fantasia movie more then a fighting game.....until a perfectly time "Down+B" sends that little pink mess packing! But seriously, PSA is a far clunkier game that lacks fluidity because of things like this dodge-roll mistake.
Maybe this only is going to bother me (just like dodge-rolling) because I have come to be so familiar with it from SB. In PSA you cannot throw items that aren't meant to be thrown (i.e. grenade). You know how once you have used all your super scope in SB you can then choose to hurl it across the level for the 1-2 punch!? Or how some items like the fan can be used not for their actual meaning but instead just to throw at an enemy, catch the rebound, throw again, catch, rinse, repeat, you get the gist. In PSA there is nothing like this. You pick up an item, which is also a clunky process (no rolling pickups like SB) and therefore have to use it as planned. A lot of the items are really fun to use (i.e. dead fish, rocket launcher) BUT the big problem is that once someone picks up, lets say the dead fish, you KNOW that your opponent is going to HAVE to walk around with that item slowly trying to hit you. SB would have the unpredictability of that same opponent hurling that item at you instead. It may seem like a small difference and/or complaint, but to hardcore SB fans it is a big one.
Cast of Characters:
I am sorry to say it but the cast of characters in PSA leaves TOO much to be desired. I know everyone and their 8 year old niece has complained about Crash Bandicoot being left out but there are others that I am seriously left scratching my head over. Characters like Abe from Oddworld, Cloud from FF, Lara Croft, Rayman or even Tony Hawk from the Pro Skater series (ok, JK on that one). Most of those characters I have listed have been mentioned in one sad breath or another but the one character that I think has been looked over more than any other is the Prince from Katamari Damacy?!?
Katamari was such an awesome Playstation exclusive that was awesome, hilarious and totally original. I cant see why they left this awesome game out? The fact that PSA is going to have future support with DLC characters, and has already confirmed two free characters early next year (Emmet Graves-Starhawk and Kat-Gravity Rush) leaves a GOOD taste in my mouth. Hopefully the dev's will realize how much is left out of this cast of characters and some of the aforementioned characters will make their appearance. Because seriously right now the characters in this game are far too boring. Once I finished trying out Drake, Fat Princess, Sackboy, Big Daddy, Sly and Sweet Tooth I stopped trying out others. Wanting to try 6 different characters may seem like enough to some people and don't get me wrong, the moves from each character are awesome and completely pay homage to their respective games, but I didn't find myself enjoying any characters from games I didn't really play outside of PSA. I know ALOT of people love Kratos, Cole, Raiden and Heihachi but to me I'm like "eh". I could be biased here but the cast of characters that SB offers seems to be a million times better than PSA. Maybe its because I have been playing a lot of the SB characters respective games for the better part of my life but seriously SB trumps PSA in this category.
Sum it up:
Well that sums up the differences and pros/cons I have with Playstation All Stars and Smash Bros. PLEASE dont take this blog as an attack on PSA, this is anything but that. I genuinely enjoyed my time with PSA, one HUGE reason being because it does have a lot of similarities to Smash Bros. But overall, in the long run it has big problems, like its lack of representation in the cast of characters to keep fans satisfied. It also lacks "smaller" problems like the fluidity/quickness needed for a game like this and some missed opportunities with its changes to health and item handling. I would definitely recommend this game to fans of the Smash Bros. series as I had a blast playing it. All the problems aside its a great addition to the 4 player Smash style fighter genre but honestly when I was done playing I wanted to go play Smash Bros., and did.
But I think that most of my "problems" with PSA are because I have spent so much time with SB. If you haven't spent countless nights gripping a Wavebird and throwing Baseball Bats at your friends you might come away from PSA all aces. But to me the things that SB has established in the 4player Fighter genre are a necessity now and until a game comes along that has all those things and adds more (like Dishonored did this year for the Stealth genre) games will continue to not have as much as SB has to offer.