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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Public Beta Review

October 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The public beta for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale went live on the EU PlayStation Store a few days ago, opening up a very limited trial version of the game to everyone until the end of the month.

For the uninitiated, PlayStation All-Stars is a free-for-all brawler game, similar in style to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros series. Numerous commenters have dismissed the game as little more than a Smash clone, and yet, honestly, that’s the whole reason I got excited for the game in the first place. I enjoy Smash Bros, and I also enjoy the PS3, so bringing the two together? That’s a winner in my book.

So I was very excited to get my hands on the public beta to get a sneak preview before the game comes out. The beta is just the online matches for now, since the purpose is to test out the servers and fix any glitches and problems they may have, so naturally connection issues are prevalent, but more on that in a moment. The characters are limited to six of the 20-strong roster; Kratos from God Of War, Twisted Metal’s killer clown Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess from the eponymous PSN game, stealthy raccoon Sly Cooper, Killzone villain Colonel Radec and classic PS1 favourite Parappa The Rapper. The two stages on offer are Hades from God Of War and Metropolis from Ratchet & Clank.

I’ve had a play around with each of the characters, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute. A comment made by lead designer Seth Killian was that the game is fun even if you’re not winning, and this is very much true. I’ve had a blast just playing around, and while it’s not perfect (it is a beta, after all!) the core game mechanics feel very strong.

So let’s talk about how those characters play. Each character feels unique and true to their games, and despite accusations that certain characters are overpowered, I didn’t see it. My first match was against three opponents, all playing Kratos, and yet I won by a long shot. With Sly. There feels like a wealth of strategy involved although right now much of my playing has been to test out the movesets, so I haven’t delved too much into the numerous combos and tricks of each character so far.

I’ve had fun targeting Radec players who abuse the sniper rifle move, especially with “weaker” characters like Fat Princess and Parappa (seriously spent a whole match chasing Radec with FP). I’ve enjoyed stringing together combos with ease as Kratos. It’s been good to discover that there’s more to Radec’s move-set than that god damn sniper rifle. Only character I’ve not enjoyed is Sweet Tooth, but I get the feeling he’s a character that needs some practice to get good with.

However, the character I keep coming back to is Sly. Time and time again I keep wanting to jump into a match with him and make use of his speedy and sneaky play-style, which is seriously fun. Love making use of his rolls and slides, and the explosive barrel and cap mine moves are a joy to throw at people. Maybe this is due to my love of speedy and evasive characters in general, and his play style matches mine perfectly.

Of course, being a beta, things aren’t perfect. There are numerous connection issues, especially obvious in a match where I faced off against just a Radec who kept having seizures and teleporting around the map. Other times the game refused to connect at all, or would drop out in the middle of a match. These are generally forgivable at this stage since the whole point of the public beta is to catch these glitches and correct them before release.

Overall though, I have little to complain about in regards to how the game plays. Despite complaints from certain circles that the game is unbalanced, as previously mentioned, I honestly never got that impression. Every character has strengths and weaknesses and it really feels like a game you need to spend time with in order to get the most out of it.

The million dollar question, of course, is whether or not it’s as good as the Super Smash Bros games. Some would argue that comparisons shouldn’t be made, but as mascot fighters for two major console devs, it’s hard to avoid that. But while it’s difficult to say at this point since it’s not the full game, it honestly feels like it has a little more depth and complexity than Nintendo’s franchise, while remaining every bit as fun. The developers’ expertise in fighting games is clear, and I can’t wait until the full game comes out. Expect a full review when the games hits in a month’s time!

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is out on PlayStation 3 and Vita on November 20th for you lucky buggers in the US, while we in the UK get it on the 23rd. It’s developed by Superbot and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. And I cannot wait. TEAM RATCHET YO!

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Say My Name, Say My Name

October 18, 2012 2 comments

I’m writing this in response to a post by drewpan a few days ago about names. In his post he talked about the nature of names and how he chooses to pronounce his surname differently to other members of his family.

And I have to admit I’m pretty odd when it comes to names too. After all, I call myself Sven over on my movie blog, a joke name given to me by the woman who would become my girlfriend during a stream where I played video games for the Internet, connected to a Youtube account where I do more games playing under the name of Bob The Pet Ferret. Yes, there’s a ferret theme here, you may have noticed.

But then what name do I use on here? My real name, of course, since I intend on releasing writing under that name, so might as well use that name here on my blog too. But even then, I’m awkward with it. I call myself L. Haydn Price, which is my real name, but instead of crediting myself with the normal “first name last name” convention, I chopped off all but the first letter of my first name and dumped my middle name in there.

Why did I do this? Because I’m pretty ambivalent to my first name. It’s a rather boring name that tries not to be boring by being spelt weird. But when grouped with my surname and said aloud, its dullness reveals itself, and I cringe at the thought of that name being on the front of a book someday.

I have this weird, almost OCD-like issue with two syllable names when it comes to writing. In my head, inexplicably, it must be three syllables or more, and that’s why I made my name have four. Plus, as weird as it sounds, using an initial feels more like a writer’s name. Look at J. K. Rowling or J. R. R. R. R. R. Tolkien (yes, I know there aren’t that many R’s, he just has too many in the first place), or even more contemporary writers like Iain M. Banks. Initials everywhere! So why not be L. Haydn Price?

Plus I kind of like my middle name. Don’t really like the story behind my middle name, since it’s a paternal hand-me-down middle name that I’m expected to give to my son-that-will-never-exist, but hey, it sounds cool, and it looks cool. So I intend to use it as my professional name, if and when I eventually become professional.

See, names matter. Names are part of our identity, and we tend to choose how to present ourselves to the world through nicknames and variations on our names. Some people prefer to be known by their middle names instead of their first (almost my case, except I liked that first initial being there too). Some people drop their names entirely and choose new ones. Hell, I’m more interested in altered/changed names, since there’s usually a story behind it, while our real names may have stories that we only know second hand.

So I say everyone should be able to choose how they wish to present their identity to the world, up to and including altering the names they prefer to be known be.

Bad Hair Day

October 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Ever the dedicated follower of fashion (ha!), I’ve recently decided that I could do with changing up my hairstyle a little. The problem is, my knowledge of good hairstyles is pretty minimal and so I turned to the Internet for help.

One thing that became apparent is what fashion deems to be interesting styles for men are actually pretty horrible. Although part of me is wondering if this impression is because of the specific styles or if it’s because they’re being presented by models who look like they want someone to punch them in the face.

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