What happens when some strange disembodied head from another dimension decides to try and take over multiple worlds (oh he's not just your average megalomaniac heck no!) and attempts to enslave the worlds heroes and make them do his bidding?
Well he gets them to battle each other for a start to see who is the most dominant. Of course our heroes and heroines are not going to take this lying down, no siree!
They will resist and fight back, even if it means fighting the others that have been dragged into this mess. Yes I know that sounds paradoxical and I guess it is, but who says that all games have to make sense in every aspect?
Indeed the star choices are varied to say the least. From kick ass heroes like Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series, Cole from InFamous, to more understated heroes like Jakk and Sly Raccoon, Sack Boy and the borderline ridiculous, with PaRappa the Rapper, some cat like creature called Toro and Fat Princess to legitimate bad boys, like God of War's Kratos, the psychopathic Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, Evil Cole from InFamous, and even a Big Daddy from Bioshock!
There are several others but I'll leave it up too you to find out the rest of the (for the most part) all star ensemble on offer. If you thought that Sack Boy could not kick ass, then think again! OK, he may need a little help from weapons that can be gathered as you fight but even he can deliver some serious damage when the need arises.
Each character has their own unique move set and combos. As they attack and deal damage they will fill up a gauge that has three increments. Each step of the gauge that is filled delivers a powerful blow, stage one may be a powerful kick (as in Sweet Tooth's case), Stage two maybe a nasty over head slam and impalement with blades (Kratos) right up to stage three which may have you turning into a giant that can deliver death with one blow (Kratos again) or stomp around the arena in a battle suit made of an old truck, whilst wielding the grand daddy of all mini guns! (Sweet Tooth).
PaRappa makes folks implode after singing his hit single "I Wanna Believe!" and as for the Fat Princess, well you'd never guess that so much damage could be dealt with a sponge cake!
It ranges from the truly bizarre to the totally lethal with all kinds of degree in between.
You'll have to spend some time to experiment with different characters and their skills, which you can do in the training options. But all of the characters have their own individual story lines to progress through, as well as the challenge modes that are on offer. These range from using only circle button to attack, to performing a certain number of grapple attacks in a duel.
Each duel has two to four characters fighting in arenas based on various game worlds from the Playstation Universe. From PaRappa the Rappers dojo, a cargo plane from Uncharted: Drake's Fortune to the dizzying heights of Columbia from Bioshock Infinite.
As you fight, our disembodied friend tries to make his presence felt by influencing the battlefield. Sometimes a huge robot may appear in the background, or a giant Hydra that spews fireballs onto the battlefield.
You'll be leaping all over the place, delivering damage as you jump over hazards, such as land mines, and from platform to platform, or ledge to ledge. You can pick up weapons that again range from the frankly bizarre to the utterly lethal. A Kratos like double headed scythe for one, or indeed something as odd as a giant fish to slap around someone's head!
Add rocket launchers and guns too the mix and you get a real potpourri for sure.
Bright, colourful and range from the cartoon style of PaRappa the Rapper to the more detailed and textured domain of Bioshock Infinite. Where needed, textures are well rendered.
Smoke and fire are nicely detailed where needed. Overall it has a fairly dynamic presentation, and although not as polished as some games on offer, it still pleases the eyes.
Objects react to being hit as well do characters in reaction to the force behind the blow or blows. (There are some truly hard hitting combos and power mode attacks)
Characters bounce off surfaces well, considering that they really are not meant to be bouncing off walls after being thrown or blasted by a well aimed rocket or machine gun salvo!
Each arena has a theme that represents the area. For instance a techno beat for the Rapper's dojo, to a direct sample of the InFamous soundtrack or indeed music from Sack Boy's world. To be honest there isn't much original music I recognize here but there are some characters from games I have not played so the music in some cases did not resonate with me.
Of course the main themes are played as you select the character you want to use.
Kratos's dramatic theme for one to the charming music from Little Big Planet, and the moody, threatening theme for the Big Daddy. It's a good selection and all in all, it works well.
The pace is fast and frenetic (even on the easiest mode) and blows are delivered thick and fast in a way that would make even Chuck Norris' head spin.
Damage is gloriously over the top in some of the max power attacks and the animations when they kick in, range from cartoony to dramatic (I am a big fan of Kratos turning into a Clash of the Titans sized giant).
As you progress it takes on a RPG style theme. You'll collect ranking points, and this unlocks backgrounds, alternate costumes, icons and even little characters that act as 'cheerleaders'.
This is where you can compete in ranked or unranked matches. Ranked matches are actually contained in seasons. Rewards are given for the highest ranked players at the end of each season. Unranked matches are made of up to four players of different skill levels so be aware of this. Ranked matches are well balanced I found.
Online play is smooth and I have not noticed any lag or frame rate issues. It is enjoyable and challenging as it should be. The challenge mode again gains you experience and unlocks items, and is a good way of actually learning each characters moves, although there is a dojo mode where you can try the same moves but without the challenges and the rewards for completing them.
So is this game fun? Yes it is. Does it have long term appeal? For some people the answer would be yes, others may take a little more convincing. Online play and challenge mode certainly adds spice but does challenge mode add enough spice? I'd say perhaps not for me, but others may find that it does.
As far as platform gaming action goes it moves at a cracking pace, combat is varied but can, and I have to be honest, can be a little too frantic at times. True you have an icon over your head that tells you where you are but you can lose track of where you are in an arena.
By the time you have got your bearings, you'll find your opponents have you trapped in a corner and are picking you apart. It's a mixed package and I find playing it is fine, but not for long periods of time.
It does not engage me as much as say, Mortal Kombat or Soul Calibur but then it is a different beast than those titles. It is different yes, but anybody who has played Super Smash Melee on the Nintendo systems will find it familiar and may get to grips with the tactics for each fight quicker than others.
Yes I did enjoy it provided I kept sessions relatively short in single player. Multi Player I found myself on line for longer than intended as it is quite addictive and for me that is where the most appeal lies.
It's bruising, hyper speed combat across a wide range of battlefields and there are plenty of offensive weapons to add spice to the menu. Whether it has the long term appeal to keep lobbies open like Mortal Kombat or Tekken Tag Tournament 2 remains to be seen.
It may not appeal to traditional beat em up fans, but it does provide a welcome change from the traditional one on one street fighter style game.