- Publisher: Sony
- Developer: Sony
- ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
- Genre: Fighting Game
- Pros: Great Characters, Inspired Level Design, Variety of Gameplay
- Cons: Rewards Mashing Over Strategy, Lackluster Story Mode
20 video game characters are included on-disc with many more to come in future DLC (Kat from "Gravity Rush" has already been announced). As in all fighting games, the gameplay is simple. Pick a character and either take them online or through an Arcade mode that purports to do a bit of storytelling about why Kratos would be killing poor Parappa the Rapper and Sackboy. Essentially, the game plays like a Sony fighting game's dreams brought to video game life. Even the arenas are mash-ups related to worlds in the games from which its characters have been drawn. The myriad of combinations of character and location in 4-player battles makes for a game that offers some serious replay value for those not concerned about its lack of playable depth. It's essentially a masher -- punch, kick, combo, special move. When you're fighting three other players in an arena that is dangerous itself, strategy gives way to frenetic button-pressing and I wish the mechanics of "Battle Royale" had been refined to the point that I felt the best player and not just the fastest one had the best shot to win.
The variety of level design and its bizarre mash-up structure ("God of War" meets "Patapon" on a level with a background demon that can kill you as easily as your enemy), "Battle Royale" certainly gets points for creativity. And it should be noted that the fighters have a refreshing degree of individuality. Nathan Drake uses guns. Kratos pulls out his blades. I'm not even sure what the Hell is happening with Fat Princess. And each character builds up points in a three-tiered super-move system, the ultimate of which is typically a clever animation of total destruction. This is certainly not one of those games in which all of the combatants are basically variations on the same animations. A punch from Sweet Tooth looks different than a punch from Sackboy.
And yet it doesn't. "Battle Royale" starts to blend into a cacophony of combat mere minutes into one's advancement through an Arcade mode. It starts one-on-one, moves to three-player, and quickly becomes four-players fighting to multiple deaths. Death in "Battle Royale" merely leads to an instant respawn and whoever kills the most and dies the least at the end of a fight "wins." There's a lack of a real sense of victory or progression. Only the changing arenas and increasing difficulty give the player any sense of achievement.
Of course, like most fighting games, it could be argued that "Battle Royale" isn't designed for solo play. You need friends either online or in-person to really enjoy it. Honestly, it's a game best-played on a couch with someone to yell at in the same room. Find some friends, pick your favorite characters, and prepare for chaos this holiday season.