At PAX, I got a chance to play a few rounds of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. Having just played Metal Gear Rising and DmC: Devil May Cry, I decided to give new Dante and Black Raiden a whirl.
I started with Dante, whose control layout was a bit odd. In general, his sword and scythe attacks were on the Square button and his gun attacks were on Triangle. While that was reversed from DmC, it didn’t take too long to get used to it. While the Square attacks kind of comboed together into a mashy blur, I was particularly fond of using “Rain Storm,” in which Dante spins downwards firing his guns in the air (mapped to down and triangle) before entering a crowd of people with a “Helm Breaker” (down and square in the air).
Forward and Triangle on the ground had Dante walk by an opponent while peppering them with shots, a really cool-looking attack, but one that resulted in me getting hit a lot, since it provided me little defense from any character I was not shooting. However, it seemed pretty easy to combo a few square attacks into that attack, so I kept using it. In fact, as a general rule, Dante’s moves seemed pretty comboable, so I had quite a bit of fun trying to recreate combos that I’d done in my time with DmC.
Now, Circle was a different beast entirely. While neutral Circle would act as a parry of sorts, forward-Circle was essentially an air dash forward. At first I thought the button was exclusively for defensive or evasive moves until I noticed that down and circle would have Dante throw the blade of his demonic axe. What’s Circle’s official designation? I have no idea, but the air dash was pretty handy for covering a lot of ground.
Like all PlayStation All-Stars characters, Dante could jump with X, block with L1 (and dodge-roll by pressing left or right while doing so), pick up items with R1, and had three different throws mapped to right stick forward, down, and up (although I primarily used the forward throw, since it felt strange to press the right stick down when the opponent was directly in front of me). As far as the R2-mapped supers (which, bear in mind, are the only way to get kills in the game since normal attacks and falling off of ledges doesn’t do anything), I could only ever seem to hit with the level one, which was a slash that out the people directly in front of me. Whenever I tried my level 2, I was hit out of it.
Moving on, although I played Raiden in two rounds, I felt like I understood him even less than I did Dante… but it was balanced out by the fact that what I lacked in knowledge, Raiden made up for in lethality.
Square attacks for him seemed to be “normal” strikes, whereas his Triangle attacks were heavy… kind of like Rising, actually. Like Dante, Circle for Raiden acted as a parry, which helped me get out of the middle of crowd situations since his slashes covered so much ground.
To be frank, Raiden was a bit of a blur of the wide-reaching, enemy launching Triangle attacks. While it was never really clear how to gain energy more efficiently, hitting multiple enemies with these attacks would let me use Raiden’s brutal supers more frequently. The level one had Raiden hold his High Frequency blade on his foot and breakdance, which allowed me to kill anyone who was close enough on either side of me.
Raiden’s level 2 was interesting. It slowed down everyone who was in range and if I pressed Square, Raiden would slash at whatever was in front of him. Even non-slowed enemies could be killed by these slashes, but there was quite a bit of recovery time after each slash. Nobody ever hit me during the duration of the level 2 supers I used, so I wonder if that cancels out of the insta-kill mode.
While I had fun with what I played of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, I left the game still confused (but with a couple of wins under my belt). I played as two characters whose buttons seemed to work completely differently, with little rhyme or reason as to why certain combinations of buttons and directions did what.
Right now, it seems like the game has too many options and rules per-character to be a simple party game, but the wacky nature of the supers and items kind of undermine it as a fighter. However, I’ve only had a chance to play a few rounds of one game type, so perhaps it will make more sense with time.