I had just a short bit of time to chat with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale game director Omar Kendall on the newly announced characters and stages at gamescom yesterday, but I fear that I spent most of it chatting about recent game leaks and Tekken techniques. You know, talking shop.
I did manage to learn a few things about new characters Dante, Ratchet and Clank, Spike, and Sackboy, as well as a bit about the two new stages.
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Dante (the DmC: Devil May Cry version from the upcoming Ninja Theory game) is a combo character in All-Stars, just as fans of Devil May Cry would expect. What makes him really unique is his cancel ability. Kendall explains that his square button attacks cancel into his triangle button ones, and in turn those cancel into circle attacks. If you're fast and accurate, you'll be able to come up with long custom combos of your own, just like in the Devil May Cry series games.
"We wanted to leave it open-ended because we know that open-ended combo discovery is such a huge part of Devil May Cry," Kendall said. "While we've got a bunch of combo characters like Kratos, he's not a combo character in any way like Dante is. We were able to give him a really interesting way to put his combos together that is unique only to him."
When you see red flashes of light, you'll know he's doing a cancel. Trying my hand at him, it didn't take long to figure out how this canceling worked, but the stuff I pulled off didn't look nearly as cool as what Kendall was doing.
Sackboy plays nothing like Dante. He's not nearly as fast and not very effective up close. Instead, he uses a ton of gadgets straight out of the LittleBigPlanet world to fight from a distance.
"We have Radec in the game who we call our long-range character, but I'd say more than any other character, Sackboy is the character that really likes playing a long-range game," Kendall explained. "He really doesn't want to get in there and mix it up with other people, so to that end, he has a lot of tools that help him maintain his range."
Sackboy's play style is pretty different from the rest in that he pulls from a Popit menu to summon tools to aid him in a fight. For example, a fan allows him to blow anything away, but it also serves a few other purposes -- by shooting into the fan, his projectiles will travel faster, and by jumping into its wind, Sackboy himself can travel faster. He can also throw cake with his Cakeinator, and a pit of fiery coals can be placed as a level hazard. Sackboy may be cute, but he's kind of a dick!
His supers are just as crazy as his normal moves. His Level 1 super takes advantage of his costume collection, letting him transform into a Sackboy version of PaRappa the Rapper, Nathan Drake, or Cole MacGrath to do different types of attacks. Level 2 is the previously mentioned fiery pit, which can also be used directly by dropping it on an opponent. Level 3 turns everyone and everything into Popit prize bubbles, which can be popped to either kill enemies or gather bonuses like items or energy.
Ratchet and Clank come in a two-for-one deal, and if you've played any of the series games, you'll go into All-Stars expecting to use their tools in fights. You'd be right -- classic weapons like the Combusto Pistol and Tesla Spikes are among the standard attacks. The Ratchet team does best in the mid-range, as a contrast to Dante and Sackboy, with beams and projectiles that can get in and cut others off easily. They'll get over you, shoot down on you, and hold you back. Clank can also get in on the action with Chronoscepter. Finally, one of the supers shown has the duo sending fire onto the playfield from the comfort of their ship, turret style!
I'm already sold on Spike, and it's not just because I'm a big fan of the Ape Escape series. He's well-rounded, making him effective at long range, but he's also able to get in and do some serious damage. Kendall explains that this particular Spike is from the Million Monkeys version, a PlayStation 2 action game that was a pretty big title in Japan but never released in the US.
Spike's attacks use his popular game tools, like his net and stun club. But it gets weird from there, and Kendall says that all this weirdness comes from how crazy the original game was. Spike has a bee launcher used to stun, an RC car to send out and do remote damage, and a Bananarang that lets him teleport, though Kendall says his ability to do this is nowhere near as good as Sly Cooper's. Also expect things like punching bags and hula hoops to pop up.
Spike's Level 3 super was taken from his strongest attack in Million Monkeys, and it's pretty crazy. He calls in a satellite laser from space, and you see it reposition in orbit, overlooking Earth. Then it sends an orbital strike attack down into the level, killing all.
Two new stages were also shown off in our meeting. One new stage is straight from inFAMOUS -- "Alden's Tower" is the biggest level yet as it scrolls upward, having you and your opponents scaling four levels. You'll start out on the bottom floor and have to work your way up its platforms, being mindful of your opponents and the crazy stuff the level throws at you.
"Stowaway" comes from Uncharted 3, where Drake had to fight from the open back of a flying airplane. The situation is the same in All-Stars, with only one fall-off point being on the far right at the end of dangling trucks. It's a tight space, and I found that whoever dominates the top of the leftmost truck was best off. And I didn't notice until Kendall pointed it out, but the background is peppered with BioShock references. How did I miss the huge Vox Populi zeppelin floating by?!