Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition (2013)


It’s Not What I’m Doing … It’s What I’ve Done.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition (2013)You could say that my sister has a bad habit of picking the worst game from my Christmas list to get me as a present.  I prefer to think that she has a gift for it, and that the bad habit is my naiveté for assuming I’ll like so many games.  If you’re up to date with my reviews, you’ll know that two years in a row my sister has given me a game that made it into my worst games of the year.  Last year was Twisted Metal, but this year she got me Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition, developed by NetherRealm Studios, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, Adam Baldwin, Susan Eisenberg, Richard Epcar, Phil LaMarr, Neal McDonough, Joey Naber, Khary Payton, Mark Rolston, Tara Strong, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Amell, Troy Baker, Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale, J.G. Hertzler, Nolan North, and Fred Tatasciore.

In an alternate reality, the Joker (Richard Epcar) tricks Superman (George Newbern) into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis, sending Superman off the handle to the point where he kills the Joker and establishes a new world order as the High Councilor.  In our reality, the Joker’s plan did not succeed, but did send the heroes from our world over to the other one, where they must join Batman’s (Kevin Conroy) insurgency and try to take down Superman’s regime.

There must be some sort of mistake.  I seem to not have taken any notes on the story of this game.  Of a fighting game!  They’re always so story-driven!  This game didn’t have a bad story (especially when you compare it to other fighting games), but it was fairly forgettable.  I guess I didn’t take any notes about it because it didn’t really make any impact on me one way or another.  It didn’t impress me as being particularly well-written, and I didn’t think of jokes to tear its shittiness apart.  It was roughly as good as any of those straight to DVD DC or Marvel movies.  Take that for what it is.

The thing that really makes or breaks a fighting game is the gameplay.  The problem with that when it comes to me reviewing them is I don’t really like fighting games.  I was interested enough to complete the story and beat the game with a couple of the individual characters to see their specific endings, but as with all other fighting games, once I hit that wall of boredom I hit it hard.  When I reach boredom with a fighting game, there’s no taking a break and coming back to it; I’m out.  Returning to the game is extremely painful at that point.  This game controls like most of the newer Mortal Kombat games.  There’re some punches and some kicks, a few special movies, and a super move for each character.  Nothing revolutionary.  I do like the fighting games that allow you to transition between different sections of the same level by knocking your opponent off of an edge, and this game does that as well.  Of course, once you’ve seen it once you can pretty much put a check mark behind that ‘cause it’s just going to be the same thing over and over.  There were a couple of notable changes to the fighting game mechanics that I noticed.  The first was the health bar system.  Unlike most fighting games that give each character a full health bar for each round, you’re given two from the beginning but do not get full health when you knock out one of the enemies’ health bars.  I actually liked this because it inspires you to do good all the way through as opposed to getting a fresh start because you just got KO’ed.  The other thing I noticed was the Wager system, which I hated.  It basically just gives the opponent the chance to prolong the battle by sacrificing their super bar.  They’re about to die, so they’re not going to need it, but you may have if you were trying to finish the game spectacularly with a super move.  Instead, they wager their entire super bar every time and you have the choice to either sacrifice your ability to do your super move or let them win, damaging you or healing them.  It just seemed like an unnecessary annoyance.

The characters were pretty good in the game.  It’s basically every notable character from DC comics, at least as far as I know.  I’ve never been that big of a fan of DC, but I certainly couldn’t think of anyone else from that universe that I would care to see in the game.  That basically means that Batman is in the game.  But I also resented Batman because they changed his default costume and made it look lame.  Thankfully, that could be repaired with alternate costumes, but you couldn’t fix how lame his super move was.  He basically just jumps up into the air and hits the opponent with the batmobile.  This is Batman we’re talking about!  Stupid ass Aquaman stabs the guy with a trident, hits them with a giant wave, and gets them eaten by a giant shark!  Wonder Woman’s super also sucks because it makes her seem like she needs help because she basically gets her Amazons to come in and beat your opponents ass.  It would’ve been less lame to involve that stupid invisible airplane she used to have.  But there were lots of characters to choose from, and even more because I got the Ultimate Edition.  That means I had even more characters to not care about.  Like Zatanna.  …Yay…

Injustice: Gods Among Us was a decent enough game for those who like fighting games, especially the Mortal Kombat games.  Unfortunately for it, this review was written by me.  I’m not that big of a fan of DC and I’m not that big of a fan of fighting games.  Kind of makes you wonder why I asked for this game in the first place, doesn’t it?  Well I am a complicated individual, but I will not complicate my review any more than I need to.  If you like DC and fighting games, buy it.  Otherwise, skip it.  Injustice Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition gets “There is no justice!” out of “You could feel the love, right?”

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Diablo III (2013)


Our Long War Ends Today, Imperius!

Diablo III (2013)I wanted to play today’s game for a very long time.  It was originally released in May of 2012 for the computer, but my computer was having far too many problems for me to even consider running a game more powerful than Angry Birds.  A year later, I was finally able to build a computer capable of running it, but by that point I didn’t feel interested anymore.  Thankfully, they were putting the game out on console a few months later.  My interest was revived!  And now I can finally bring you my review of Diablo III, developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, and including the voices of Athena Karkanis, Dorian Harewood, Anna Graves, Robin Atkin Downes, Rajia Baroudi, Jamieson Price, Erica Luttrell, Carl Lumbly, Grey DeLisle, Crispin Freeman, Alyson Reed, Michael Gough, Jonathan Adams, Jennifer Hale, Dominic Keating, Troy Baker, Sumalee Montano, Simon Templeman, and James Hong.

You play as one of five character types in one of two genders.  You arrive in the town of Tristram following a mysterious star crashing to the ground and raising the dead in its wake.  We meet with Leah (Jennifer Hale) who was in the Cathedral investigating the ominous prophecy that may lead to the resurrection of Diablo with her uncle Deckard Cain (Michael Gough).  Upon investigation, we find that the star that crashed to the ground is actually an angel named Tyrael (Jonathan Adams), who tells us that the demon lords Belial and Azmodan are wreaking havoc through the world and that we have to stop them because … well, what else would we do?

I enjoyed this game just fine, but the story really had nothing to do with it.  Mainly because there barely was one.  It’s really not much more than, “Diablo is coming back and we have to stop him.”  They have a couple smaller things they try to fit in (Deckard and Leah’s relationship, Leah and Aria’s relationship, the little boy emperor and his besieged kingdom, the demons war on the humans, the bickering angels), but it really boils down to a really long mission to beat one boss.  They don’t really try to surprise you too much beyond that.  There is a bit of a surprise involving Leah, and also a bit of a surprise involving our main character.  I won’t spoil Leah’s, but I will spoil ours: we’re a Nephilim.  I feel comfortable spoiling that because I’ve played through a great portion of the game five times and I have no recollection of the game actually informing of this.  At a certain point, characters are just talking about that fact as if it were assumed knowledge by now.  I feel like there was another thing that the intended to be a surprise, but if that’s the case they should feel embarrassed.  We have to work with the ghost of a guy named Zoltun Kulle at one point until he betrays us.  I could not wrap my mind around the idea that this could be a spoiler.  The guy’s voice was brought to us by I Am Evil enterprises and every time he disappeared, he did so with the dictionary definition of a sinister laugh.  The only way they could’ve surprised me with that guy was if he eventually left after helping us reach our goal to go and find his home world of rainbows and puppies.  They did have lots of little journals you could pick up to get additional information, but most of them were either just unimportant things or just a characters feelings about the things going on in the unimpressive story.  I did appreciate that those journals would not be hindered by leaving the area and would continue through the load screens.  I would’ve hated having to stand inside Deckard’s room waiting for his journal to stop talking just so I could be underwhelmed by the information he was giving.

The game looks pretty good.  It’s kind of hard to say as the camera is never that close to allow us to see the details, but that’s something they pretty much need to stick to because that’s the setup of a Diablo game.  The improvements that can be seen are in the activity of the levels.  The levels in the game are always alive with little movements, from creatures scurrying around on the floor to parts of the level crumbling off when you get too close.  My favorite one was in a spider lair when a guy was dragged into a hole when I got too close.  The attention to detail – even if we never really got close enough to see that much of it – was fantastic.  Also, the cut scenes were great.  The disparity in the graphical quality between the gameplay and the cut scenes reminded me of those trailers for The Old Republic that made the game look so much more awesome than the game seemed to deliver.  I don’t mean that as a critique of Diablo, but as a compliment to the quality of the cut scenes.

I made it a specific point to dedicate a decent amount of time to each of the five character types before embarking on my review.  What I decided early on is that I always seem to pick the character that is the least prepared for my antisocial style of gameplay.  I generally don’t team up with people because people will hurt you.  I’M TALKING TO YOU, CYNTHIA!!  That being the case, you’d assume I’d be more prone to picking a tank character such as the Barbarian for my first go.  But that’s never the case.  In City of Heroes, I picked a Blaster.  In World of Warcraft, I picked a rogue.  And in Diablo III, I picked the Demon Hunter, or what is more commonly known as an archer.  So running solo was a pretty bad idea for quite some time.  The rapid fire ability helps, but I came to realize that your friends could be both assistance and hindrance.  The fact that I got into this game a while after they did helped me out because they could just jump into my game and throw away the trash they would never use, which just so happened to be excellent equipment to my lower level character.  The other side of that coin is the friends who attempt to rush you through your campaign so that you can join them in their higher difficulty campaigns.  First off, when you get bored and abandon me right before the boss, it leaves me underpowered to face it.  Second, I have a review to write!  I feel like I missed most of the story!  That’s why I had to go on my second playthrough, and I chose the wizard because I had not yet screwed myself over enough with my first character that shouldn’t play solo through missions.  The saving grace for these two characters comes when you get one of the three followers you can use when playing solo: the Templar, the Scoundrel, and the Enchantress.  The problem with these characters is I have no idea why you would ever use anyone but the Templar.  He can heal directly, heal by increasing your regeneration, and he’s also a capable tank.  Taking the other two is basically babysitting.

After those two characters, I finally got the message and went out as a Barbarian.  It was kind of boring, but I didn’t die so that was a plus.  I died a lot with the monk character, but only because he was talked up so much that I assumed I could easily waltz through one of the hardest difficulties with him.  I could not.  I haven’t yet gotten to the point with the Witch Doctor that he becomes truly badass.  The higher you level, the more creatures you can spawn to do your fighting for you.  It seems like that might get a little boring, but it would certainly be less frustrating.  All I was able to spawn by the time I stopped playing was two zombie dogs.  I named them Pongo and Perdita.

I’m sure a lot of people were worried that the controls of the game would suffer when porting from the computer to the console.  I never played the computer version, but I found the controls very effective on the console.  There are plenty enough buttons that you can map your powers to, and it got even better when my friend Hookah told me that there was a setting to change that would allow you to map any powers to any buttons and not just the five or so powers it had allocated to each button.  After that the controls were pretty smooth sailing and the gameplay style would just depend on your character.  One universal that I enjoyed was the traps that were spread throughout the levels, like hitting a chain to drop a chandelier on a group of enemies or shooting some boards that were holding up a wall to let it crumble onto the enemies.  The problem with this was that I rarely saw the traps before I had already cleared the room because of how close the camera was.  But that’s a minor gripe.

I haven’t yet gotten all of the achievements in the game, but the ones I saw didn’t seem insurmountable.  Just time consuming.  I’m sure by the time you had reached level 60 you’d probably have stumbled upon most of them.  And probably would’ve had to have beaten the game on the harder settings to get to that level anyway.  So if you’ve got the time, you’ve probably got 1,000 Gamerscore.

I wound up very satisfied with my time with Diablo III, and I’ll probably be returning to when I have the time.  It had nothing to do with the story which is so completely forgettable that it’s not even worth mentioning.  Thankfully, the things they concerned themselves with instead make the game worth playing.  It’s lots of fun and has plenty of randomly occurring events to keep you grinding in the game well into being worth its price.  Diablo III gets “Let your true self be revealed, Diablo!” out of “Even in the heart of Heaven, angels can still feel fear.”

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BioShock Infinite (2013)


The Seed of the Prophet Shall Sit the Throne, and Drown in Flame the Mountains of Man.

BioShock Infinite (2013)I generally try not to review two games back to back, but this review simply could not wait. Not only did I talk about it in my previous review, but I just beat it and simply had to tell people about it. I don’t really know anyone that’s played this game but me, but I’ve seen lots of talk about how amazing it was before I finally purchased it. And I didn’t wait to purchase it because I didn’t expect much out of it. I waited because I had other games that I should finally play and knew that my drive to play this game would not wait. I loved the first game in this series, and I was even fond of the sequel, but now the game has been returned to the hands that treated it so well originally. And so let’s talk about BioShock Infinite, designed by Ken Levine, developed by Irrational Games, 2K Marin, Human Head Studios, and Darkside Game Studios, published by 2K Games, and including the voices of Troy Baker, Courtnee Draper, Kiff VandenHeuvel, Kimberly Brooks, Jennifer Hale, Oliver Vaquer, Bill Lobley, and Keith Szarabajka.

In 1912, Booker DeWitt (Troy Baker) is taken to an island lighthouse off the coast of Maine. Inside, he finds a rocket silo that transports him to his destination, the floating city of Columbia. His mission here is to find a girl named Elizabeth (Courtnee Draper), daughter of the revered Prophet of Columbia, Father Zachary Hale Comstock (Kiff VandenHeuvel). If he’s able to find this girl and return her to New York, he can wipe away his massive debt. But Elizabeth is not a normal girl; she’s able to tear holes in reality that go to either parallel universes or through time. And, quite frankly, this game is far too complicated for me to tell without spoilers, and I wouldn’t dare. Here’s a spoiler: go buy this game right now!

Damnit. I just ruined my whole review. I guess you can close out this review now… Okay, I’ll tell you why this game is amazing: because it is! It’s smart, it’s deep, it’s vaguely confusing, and it’s amazing. I doubt it was because of this, but the game I played right before this game was Duke Nukem Forever. Very similar games, though. Both first person shooters, both have some form of everlasting in their title, but only one of them you will wish will last forever. The other one will welcome you into eternity by making you want to kill yourself. But we’ll discuss the Duke later. The story of this game is better than any game I can currently think of. BioShock was already a brilliant story by having deeper messages within, but this one jumps past that one by also being mind-bending in all the best ways. People talked a lot about the racism in this game – as they talked about the “rape scene” in Tomb Raider – but I have the same reaction to both: get off their nuts. This game is like a snapshot of that time, and people were racist back then. But what I loved about the depth of their story was the hidden messages, the ones that were confusing at the time but (as I make my way through my second playthrough) actually hide messages that you only see once you’ve beaten the game, which leads to it being a total mind-fuck. I won’t spoil it, but the ending was amazing. It was even better for me because nobody ruined it for me beforehand. I would say that I kind of had an idea of what was about to happen – or at least one part of it – but explaining that too much would ruin it. In fact, I liked it so much that I won’t even put it in spoiler alerts here. Go play it and find out for yourself. But, during my second playthrough, strange things are starting to make sense, mostly dealing with the Lutece twins, or when they dropped hints that you were about to be ambushed at one point with things like a violin player that couldn’t play violin. I would say that I wish the ending were happier, but it’s what helps set the game apart as artwork and not just giving me what I want. And I do think this game would be my leading argument for games as artwork, and probably as my favorite game of this year.

We could use this time to go through the whole process of me saying that the game wasn’t perfect and that there were things that didn’t sit right with me, but let’s face it. This is all just an excuse for me to fit jokes I thought of into a review. There were a few things that popped into my head while playing, but I wouldn’t dare say they took away from the quality of the game. One thing I thought that could’ve been done better was how surprised Booker and Elizabeth seemed to be when they found out that she was Comstock’s daughter. I thought we knew that from the beginning! Was that supposed to be a Shyamalan twist on the story, because I thought everyone was just aware of it. It’s revealed at one point that Comstock was taking credit for things that Booker actually did at Wounded Knee, but Booker won’t tell Elizabeth what he did. Why be so shy about it? You’re walking around a city that worships the guy that says he did those things, so why should you assume someone would judge you for being the one that actually did it? Well, she probably would have though… What you can’t judge me for is my reaction to the Vox Populi. (Good transition, Robert!) These guys want me to help them out right? Shouldn’t they start by trying to endear themselves to me? Y’know, instead of throwing me out of an airship when I already have a head injury? The other thing was one I had heard complained about before, but the items you find when searching things was sometimes odd, like finding a pineapple on a dead body, or coffee in a mailbox. Even stranger that I would eat a hotdog I just found by searching a trash can.

The only thing that I would say seemed problematic about the story to me was that I never really felt the impact of the choices I made. As best I can tell, there’s no good or bad ending to the game, but there are choices that make it seem as if you’ll have an impact on the game. I’m okay with both existing, but not really okay with them existing together. Why bother making me choose whether or not to throw a rock at a guy that was fraternizing with a black lady if the only thing that happens because of it is that later the show up and say thanks for not throwing a rock at me. I haven’t beaten the game twice yet, but my investigation on the internet leads me to believe that there’s only one ending to the game, which I’m torn about. Part of me says that I should have more control over a video game and be able to make choices that end me up in different places, but the other part of me appreciates that the game makers decided that this was the ending they wanted to represent their art. I guess I really just wanted a happily ever after…

Since I mentioned it in my review of Tomb Raider, I feel like I have to close it out here. My friend Phil was complaining that he had heard people talking about how spectacular the look of BioShock was when Tomb Raider existed, whose visual style was far superior in his mind. Now that I’ve beaten BioShock, I have to disagree. I wouldn’t say either game is far superior to the other visually, but I thought of a comparison to describe my feelings about the look. Both games are beautiful in their own ways, but I don’t feel that they should even be compared to each other. The difference to me would be like comparing the Mona Lisa to some beautiful photograph (I admittedly don’t pay attention to photography as an art form). Tomb Raider is photorealistic and an impressive work of art in that sense, where BioShock doesn’t try to be photorealistic and instead goes for an artistic style all of its own. Both beautiful in their own way. Going to Columbia is as spectacular as going to Rapture was, and similar in feel even though it’s much brighter and sunnier in contrast. Two issues with the look though. Why does everyone have to look at their wrists when they’ve been released from shackles? Can you not just feel that they’re off? And there’s one scene shortly after that where you walk down stairs that have water rolling over the steps. Very pretty, but pretty impractical. You must have people breaking their necks all day long.

Speaking of beautiful, I think the thing that made me get into the game most of all is that I fell in love with Elizabeth. No girl will ever live up to Elizabeth. No girl is as innocent, as adorable, as pretty, and as able to tear reality asunder. It was clear to me that they spent a lot of time giving Elizabeth such life in the game. Her expression always matches her situation. She explores the environment when nothing else is going on, she’ll have a seat on a bench when she’s been walking too long, she’ll buy cotton candy, she won’t go into the men’s restroom when you do and she’ll criticize you for going into the women’s restroom. She’s like a real person. And she only gets cuter when she changes her clothes into the gear that she’s wearing in most of the promotional stuff for the game. And the best part about her is that she’s always an asset and never a burden. Most people figured that you would have to drag her ass around, trying desperately to keep both you and her alive, like a new version of Ico. But in combat, she can’t be damaged. She just hides in the corner and occasionally throws you something you need, like ammo, health, and salt (that’ll make more sense when you play the game, which you should be doing already). You can even have her tear reality and bring a turret in to assist you. Even when not in combat, she’ll throw you money, unlock doors, and point out items you should pick up. She is a pleasure to have around in every way.

Not much to say about the gameplay here. It’s not really revolutionary to me because it’s not far removed from a regular first person shooter. And at first, I was resentful that the right trigger was fire and the left trigger was for your Vigors. The left trigger should always be aim. How many times did I use some ability when I was just trying to aim, having forgotten that that is done by the R3 button? …Eleven. But I got used to it pretty quickly … especially when I realized I rarely felt the need to aim. I just think that shooters need to get on the same page and the big things – like shoot, aim, melee – on the same buttons, and then the rest can be used for the stuff that makes your game special. I also took issue with the fact that I could only carry two guns at a time. That felt a little low for me. The big thing that set this game apart from other shooters was the Skylines, that you could jump on to for travel, shoot from them, and jump off to kill enemies. I was unimpressed by Skylines. They were fine, but I could’ve done without them just as much as I enjoyed them. It seemed more appropriate for the game just as a method of transport than something I ever cared to use in battle. Also, the Handymen in the game were not nearly as cool as the Big Daddy. Just as difficult, but not as cool.

The achievements are roughly the same as I remember from the other BioShock games. The greater majority of them are not insurmountable. You have some collectables that you actually want to get because they make you better in a fight or give you insight to the story behind the story. A couple of easy to get combat related ones too. The only one that seems to be a problem is getting through the game on 1999 mode (which is what they called Very Hard for some reason). Getting started is very rough on this mode before you get the shield, and then it’s more about playing it safe. Also, you can’t use a vending machine that I never used because I saved my money to buy upgrades to weapons, so that was much easier.

BioShock Infinite is amazing. It’s not only the best game I’ve played this year, but it’s the best I’ve played in some time. I would expect to see this game again when the end of the year reviews come up. The story is great, deep, and mind-bending, and the combination of the great story and the fantastic visual style of this game makes it lean closer to a work of art than simply a video game. I don’t only want my readers to play this game; I demand it. Seriously, I need someone to talk about this game with without spoiling it. Get this game now! BioShock gets “You’re still fuckin’ reading? Go buy this game!” out of “…No seriously.”

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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)


Sony’s Super Smash Brawl All-Stars Royale with Cheese.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)When I learned of the existence of today’s game, I scoffed.  I had no interest in playing this game.  Well, that’s not necessarily true.  I actually have had interest in playing this game many times before, and I’ve enjoyed playing.  Problematically, I enjoyed playing these games when they were called Super Smash Brothers.  But this time PlayStation was doing it.  I still only decided to play this game because I have a somewhat underused Vita and my roommate gave me a code that would get me this game for free.  Consider yourself endorsed, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, developed by SuperBot Entertainment and SCE Santa Monica Studio, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and including the voices of Eric Ladin, Sean Pertwee, Tim Phillipps, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Unshô Ishizuka, Josh Keaton, Max Casella, Sanae Kobayashi, Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North, Dred Foxx, Quinton Flynn, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Stephen Fry, Stephane Cornicard, Kevin Miller, Marc Silk, J.S. Gilbert, and, of course, Mario.  No one is going to read through all those names to see that one joke.

…story…Hmmm…  Well, a while ago, a company made a game called Super Smash Brothers because they had been around long enough and had enough iconic, exclusive characters that a game could justify it.  Years later, another accomplished company took their few iconic exclusives, added some exclusives no one gives a shit about, and acted like another character or two were exclusive, and pretty much jacked Smash Brothers blatantly.  And you use those characters to reach the end and beat a disembodied head to make your character glow blue in his epilogue.

You will find that the biggest problem I had with this game is that it is Smash Brothers.  It is so blatantly and unforgivingly Smash Brothers.  I feel like I will use the word Nintendo in this review more than I will the word Sony.  I felt like the credit sequence was so painfully long because they also had to thank everyone involved in Super Smash Brothers.  It lasts like a half hour!  I could bust through the story in less time than I could the credits.  And to refer to what it had as a “story” is true exaggeration.  Every character, no matter how different, hears that something is happening where characters from different worlds are collecting.  They go, they fight, they have a brief, one-stage-long rivalry with a character, and then they fight a disembodied head.  Winning gives them some sort of power that makes them glow blue, in the still-frame ending movie, and then a half hour of credits.  And the final boss was so disappointing to me.  The disembodied head has nothing to do with any Sony product I’ve ever experienced.  It DOES have something in common with a certain Nintendo product that ends with a pair of disembodied hands and polygonal, colorless versions of the other characters in the game.  I will eventually remember the name of that game.  But I believe Sony missed a huge opportunity to make the final boss Kevin Butler.  That would have been fucking perfect!  …SMASH BROTHERS!  That was it.

I was vaguely surprised to see that Sony had actually pulled off a fairly strong set of characters for their Smash Brothers rip off, but they cannot justify it nearly as well as Nintendo could.  Kratos, Nathan Drake, Cole MacGrath, Sweet Tooth, someone from Killzone, Big Daddy and Dante (neither of which are Sony exclusive, by the way.  And didn’t Bioshock originally come out as an Xbox exclusive?), Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, PaRappa and Nariko (why does anyone remember these two?), Raiden (the least favorite of all Metal Gear characters, since Nintendo already had the most popular), Sackboy, Sly Cooper, Sir Daniel Whogivesafuck and Toro Whatthehell from Huh? for Red October.  I lost focus near the end.  I started wondering if Xbox could pull this off.  My research pulled up Marcus Fenix, Master Chief, Blinx, Alan Wake, Joanna Dark, the Viva Piñata characters, the dude from Condemned (which admittedly might be a little dark for a Smash Brothers rip off), and no, they can’t pull off this kind of game.  Of course, they might be able to pull it off if they add in characters that are not exclusive to Sony (such as Big Daddy and Dante) or if they actually had the audacity to make Cole into 2 different characters, justified by being a good and an evil version of the same character.  Hell, I guess Microsoft could pull of this kind of game.  There are like 10 different Carmines in Gears of War, and they could always have Master Chief and crestfallen Master Chief.  And, strangely, the characters I enjoyed playing as most were the ones I didn’t know or didn’t give a shit about.  I liked Sir Daniel from the game I can’t even name because I gave all of my shits away to the orphans in Africa.  I liked the strange cat thing, Toro, from whatever the fuck crazy Japanese thing it spilled out of, partially because he felt like this game’s version of Kirby.  I even liked playing as Nariko.  Certainly more than I liked playing as her in the game she came from.  I kind of defaulted to Kratos most times, because I wanted a character that played well that wouldn’t embarrass me.  I liked the Big Daddy too, but watching a Big Daddy get suplexed by Sackboy is not something I endorse.    I do endorse beating the crap out of PaRappa, especially when he keeps shouting about how you’ve gotta believe.  Believe this, PaRappa: I hate you.

The gameplay in this game was as good as it was a few years back on the Nintendo, but they again failed to live up to Smash Brothers.  The biggest problem was that beating up enemies served no good purpose.  In Smash Brothers, you beat people up because weakening them makes them easier to knock out of the level.  There is no ring out in PSASBR.  In other fighting games, you beat up your enemies to take their life bar down to zero.  There are no live bars in this game.  You beat people up to build up super moves, and super moves are pretty much instant kills.  So, basically, your ability to win is only as good as your character’s super move.  Kind of takes a little bit of the fun and strategy out of it.  There were other issues, like how annoying it was to double tap on the screen to pick up an item instead of just pressing a button to do it, but I think I hate most games that force touch screen use on you.  The big problem I thought of in regards to playing this game is I don’t see any reason to do it.  With Smash Brothers, you did it on the big screen on a console that could support four players simultaneously.  On my Vita, I play alone unless I want to go online (which I never really do).  Of course, this game is also available for the PS3, so I might have liked it more that way.

Graphically this game was fantastic.  Sony will always have that over Nintendo because the decision makers in Nintendo really have gamers figured out.  But this graphical improvement comes at a cost.  The load times between levels are awful, and really take you out of the pacing of the game.  You play a level, taking three minutes tops to beat it, and then you can put the Vita down and go get a sandwich waiting for the next match to start.  The levels are also nicely designed.  They start off as one person’s level and, over time, get invaded by a character from another game.  Like playing in Ratchet and Clank’s Metropolis and having the Hydra from God of War pop out of the ground, or having a Metal Gear slice its way into the Patapon level.  The game was musically delightful, but there was a problem with my game and the sound at first, but I don’t really fault the game for it because it was patched while I was still playing it.  And after that, I got to listen to the music from Uncharted from time to time, and I am always ready for that.

Of all the categories that this game comes second to Nintendo in, there is one category that Nintendo could never touch Sony in: trophies.  Sure, one could argue that Nintendo did not do a Trophy or Achievement system, but that feels irrelevant.  The trophies in this game were super easy, and not even very time consuming.  It’s not much more complicated than beating the game with all the characters and using their Level 3 Super Move in their own level.  Then just grab Toro, go online, and get an easy triple and double kill with his Level 3 move that seems to kill everyone on screen no matter what.  Easy Platinum.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a decent enough game that was ripped off wholesale from Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers, and without very much by way of improvement.  Their characters aren’t nearly as iconic and the gameplay feels pointless and unsatisfying in comparison.  But, this game is not without its charms.  If you don’t own a Nintendo system, if you’re looking for an easy Platinum trophy, or if graphics are more important than gameplay, I could see there being reasons to play this.  Ultimately, I wouldn’t have paid money for this thing, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend it to you.  PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gets “Super Brawl Brothers” out of “Melee.”

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