Characters from across the PlayStation universe have assembled in the name of fun to beat the stuffing out of one another in what has proven to be a great modern battler.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has a roster packed with familiar faces, ready to roll. God of War's Kratos beating the stuffing out of LittleBigPlanet's Sackboy? Check. Tekken's Heihachi smacking the shifty look off of Sly Cooper's face? Enjoy it. It's there.

Though PS All-Stars owes much to Nintendo's Smash Bros series, it would be unfair to dismiss it as a wannabe without looking beneath the surface. It's a deliciously complex fighting game, thanks to deep and diverse movesets for each character. Pulling the moves off isn't hard either, with simple button taps leaving your mind free to process all the other information coming at you.

True to the title, Battle Royale, there's a lot of action to get your head around - especially in four-player free-for-alls. Each fighting stage is inspired by two PlayStation titles and, just like your enemies, the scenery's out to get you. Try keeping on top of up to three enemies while a beast from the guts of Hell is throwing his weight around as well, and you'll appreciate how challenging the action can be. The super bar has three levels and once each tier is reached by landing hits or picking up ability point bonuses, you gain access to super-attacks which are the only way to disable your enemies and win matches.


There's one notable flaw. Yes, Kratos is really cool and we love that chalky old soul, but he is the most powerful character in the game by a considerable margin. Online battles can be spoiled by cheesy players who employ him or either version of inFAMOUS' Cole MacGrath in their quests for easy victories. Then again, since I can use Sackboy's square-button suplex to build up his super bar quite quickly from the midst of an all-in rumble, maybe I can't talk.

PS All-Stars ranks as possibly the best pick-up-and-play Vita game yet, at least as good as the excellent port of Mortal Kombat released earlier this year. The controls are neatly mapped over from the PS3 version (which gives you a free version for your Vita with purchase) with the select button and touchscreen stepping in for the PS3's L1 and R1 respectively. Aside from a bit of squinting on the handheld the experience is not all that different between units, meaning the vaunted Cross-Play capability can deliver on its promise.

It's a must-have. Get cracking.

Stars: 4/5
Platform: PS3, PS Vita
Rated: PG