A broad array of PlayStation characters are ready to fight

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This past Sunday turned out to be “download all those new PlayStation Plus freebies for the month” day, which saw me adding Hoard, Sportsfriends, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale in one big gulp to my ever-growing list of untouched games. I glanced at the first two after installing them and decided that, before I get back into some lengthy Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty sessions, I should try out PS All-Stars and see what all the hubbub was about.

First, my history with these kind of all-out rumble in the jungle multiplayer mayhem games: I’ve never, ever ever played Super Smash Brothers. In any form. And I don’t see that changing any time soon, even with the newest ones looking stock full of franchises I adore, like Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Oh well. I’ve also never touched Power Stone or Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring. They’ve just never really appealed to me, and I can’t exactly pinpoint why because I do enjoy Nintendo and its characters, but I guess I felt like the fighting overall appeared rather superfluous and it was simply a bunch of fan service. Plus, considering how bad my eyes are, I’m not a big supporter of when games pull the camera back really far, making it hard to see your character and the supposedly cool fighting moves they are done, something that PS All-Stars definitely does frequently. Especially when there’s four mascots fighting at once.

So far, I’ve run through PS All-Stars‘ story mode once and immediately picked Sly Cooper as my man raccoon of action. His story mode has you playing through several fights as you try to figure out who stole some pages from the ancient family heirloom Thievius Raccoonus. Some fights were one on one, asking you to get the most kills over a three-minute time period, and others task you with being the first player to reach three kills first. Eventually, you get to the story reveal, which is that Nathan Drake stole those pages. Sure, you might see the connection that both Sly and Nathan are thieves, but it’s even more ironic when you realize that Nolan North voiced Le Paradox and El Jefe in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Anyways, you battle him, and then you battle Polygon Man, the original PlayStation mascot. I did not find any of this challenging at all, but it is fun pulling out multi-kill specials, especially the level 3 one; for Sly, Bentley hooks you up with some kind of missile launcher, which you target opponents with via a first-person mode.

As you play–and win–battles, the chosen character levels up, unlocking various things, such as new backgrounds, icons, titles, belts, minions, and costumes. I can now happily dress Sly Cooper in his Arabian outfit. By the end of the Story mode, Sly was something like level 11 or 12, and it seems like there’s plenty more to unlock and see for him alone. I guess I can either replay the Story mode (most unlikely) or take the character online. We’ll see. There’s really only a few other PlayStation characters I’m interested in playing as, and they are as follows: Jak and Daxter, Parappa, Raiden, Ratchet and Clank, and Sir Daniel Fortesque. Sorry spiky-haired dude from Ape Escape, but I never got to play you way back when. Also, sorry everyone else, but you’re either too new or too dark and brooding to care about in this goofy, carefree brawler.

I suspect I’ll play this a few more to see what some of those other characters can do and some more of the zany, always-changing and interactive backgrounds. The fighting doesn’t feel 100% great, but maybe that had more to do with Sly, who can’t even block (he turns invisible for a bit instead). I can appreciate the idea behind this game, but I think Sony missed some chances to really include a few larger known entities than Fat Princess (pun intended), such as Crash Bandicoot, the robot bunny from Jumping Flash!, old-school and super pointy Lara Croft, and maybe even that dude from Wild 9. I don’t know; the inclusion of two versions of Cole from inFAMOUS  2 seems a bit uninspired.

At least I got another good–if extremely minor–dose of Sly Cooper, Murray, and Bentley. Really, you can’t go wrong with that trio. Sly’s level 2 special tosses Murray out at enemies in this sliding body slam, and it’s a great way to clear the path before you with the click of a button. I ended up using it more than his level 3 special in the end.

Who’s your favorite character in All-Stars? Again, it’s free right now for PlayStation Plus subscribers, so grab it, and maybe we’ll play together some day down the online road. Hint: I’ll be the raccoon hitting you on the head with a cane.

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