Gosh. What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said. Of course, they’re going to call this a Smash Bros clone. But why is everyone surprised? It’s the same developer. So from what we could muster from our short time with the game, we’ve decided to to ask the very burning question that has been in everyone’s minds.
Is it fun?
Yes and maybe no. Yes, because you get a chance to play as Kratos. No, because part of your enjoyment will depend on how well you know these characters. Not everyone knows who Fat Princess or Sly Cooper is. In the demo, the playable characters included Nathan Drake, Parappa (from Parappa The Rapper, if you’re old enough to have played that game), Sweet Tooth (if you’ve played any of the Twisted Metal series), Big Daddy (from Bioshock) and Nathan Drake. Of all the characters, Nathan Drake and Kratos are arguably the most well known, but even then those characters can’t hold a candle to say the longstanding cast of Smash Bros who hold older (yet cherished) heavyweights like Mario, Zelda and Samus Aran. Hell, even people know who Kirby and Yoshi are.
So how does it play?
The wide camera angle and multiple tiered stages make it out to look just like Smash Bros but the button configurations lend it a less familiar feel. Each characters have three levels of attack albeit a high, medium and low attack but as far as choosing between the three, you can’t. Blocking it still the same for most characters (with the exception of Sly who basically turns invisible when the block button is held down). What separates itself from Smash Bros is a Super Attack that is based on filling up a three-level meter. Based on the current charge of the meter, is the level of special attack you can execute when you’re next to the opponent. The other nice part would have to be the absence of a life meter or the percentage of bounce meter – the percentage of chance of getting knocked out of the fight. This is good as it avoids colluding with other players to take out the top player.
I got a chance to play as Kratos and Sly Cooper. Kratos comes with a bevy of combos and brings with him the similar moves from the series but trying to pull of the moves requires some timing. Running with your opponent like a battering ram is there as well as hooking opponents with the Chains of Olympus is satisfying but takes some serious executing. Trying to make attacks from above and below have a bit of lag as opponents have an easy time seeing the short wind-up to the next super move.
Sly Cooper is a bit easier to play but has no blocking mechanism. The character has an easier time to perform combos but the invisibility that’s in place instead of the blocking acts as a double edged sword. So unless you’re a serious badass that can time the launchers and enter into a combo right after letting off the invisibility button, you can do some serious cheesy moves with Sly but I’ve also heard that Parappa is pretty cheesy too with his overpowering moves. Both Sean and I played the game as Sly and Kratos but got our asses kicked by Fat Princess – thanks to the game’s QA lead destroying us at every level.
Overall, the game still feels unfinished and the characters still feel clunky on screen. Trying to deliver counters after a block or during an attack seem limiting. There are also more buttons being used than what it needs. The team needs to employ the easy of control scheme of Smash Bros while not being tempted to make use of all the DualShock buttons. Games like this usually start off as a simple party game and transform into something deeper. That’s where this needs to go. There are animation delays on some of the attacks and trying to close in for a throw is frustrating. The game, visually, is still Smash-Bros-like but it’s simply not as friendly in the current button configurations. Then again, I’m a Smash Bros vet and all of these things may change.
Interestingly, the game didn’t have more well-known characters in the Playstation universe like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter from their self-titled franchises. How about putting in Solid Snake or Nathan Hale or the Chimera from Resistance?
In either case, the game has some appeal but we’re a little weary on this one. Let’s hope they can put some more time before we get a chance to see its next build.