And it’s doubly-frustrating because this behaviour is coming from Sony, a company currently head and shoulders above any other console manufacturer in terms of progressive, groundbreaking content (and yes, I’m including my beloved Nintendo in that equation). A company that has given me some of the most mind-blowingly fun, slick, unexpected, profound and moving experiences I’ve ever had in games. Whether in terms of marketing, public persona, hardware design, or fad-chasing nonsense (Hello, 3D!), for all of the ever-increasing quality on show, Sony’s status as its own worst enemy has been relentless this generation. It’s always two steps forward, one step back. And it’s always due to naught but outright silliness.
But I probably shouldn’t complain. These little lapses into shameless piggy-backing have been part of Sony’s DNA for years. And hell, between this and Super Sackboy Kar… sorry, LittleBigPlanet Karting, Sony is clearly into the final stretch of the PS3’s life, where it all becomes about lapping up the kid market while preparing for the PS4. In fact that in mind, PlayStation All-Stars could even be a quite savvy move on Sony’s part, albeit a desperately cynical one.
While it has the obvious in-built cash-farm factor of appealing to fans of pretty much every franchise in PlayStation history, it will also be a smart way of introducing under-age gamers to the likes of Kratos and Nathan Drake in a (probably) safely gore-free environment. And with the PS4 incoming, those new player/character bonds will blossom once the next-gen entries to the respective franchises arrive in a couple of years, when those kids are conveniently a few years older and have a bit more disposable income.
Above: Check out our video preview
Will PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale be any good as a game in itself? I’m not sure at the moment. You see the problem with directly copying an already nigh-perfect game is that as soon as you change anything, even just as a token gesture towards originality, you risk detracting from the finely balanced formula you so crave to emulate. And thus, All-Stars’ eschewing of health bars and ring-outs in favour of a straight race to insta-kill super moves currently reeks of a simple but fundamental design screw-up that could wreck the balance – and therefore the fun and the point – of the game in one fell swoop.
But we’ll see. It could be a laugh. In fact to some degree it probably will be. I just really wish this stuff didn’t keep stopping me from loving Sony as much as I want to. Because ye gods, if it was delivering a multi-franchise fighter that brought something new to the table with its own gameplay mechanics, I’d be all over that like Batman on a mugger.
Want to take a closer look at the game and make your own mind up? Check out PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale – Hands-on with Sony’s melee brawler.