I got a chance to play three rounds of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and I have to say that while it's very similar to the Smash Brothers series in look and gameplay, the controls and movement are very different, giving it its own distinct feel.
The demo on display at the Sony booth gave us access to 4 levels and 8 characters. The four levels were in the game's original reveal announcement a couple of months back, including a Ratchet and Clank/God of War crossover, a LittleBigPlanet/Buzz! TV crossover, a Patapon/God of War crossover, and the fourth which I think is a Jak and Daxter level. The levels all seem very interactive and have their own hazards which should be avoided at all costs. In addition to the original six characters announced with the game's reveal, E3 brings two more competitors: Uncharted's sly hero Drake, and Bioshock's iconic Big Daddy.
The first thing I noticed is how different the game felt to play compared to how it looked. It'd be easy to claim the game is identical to Nintendo's cross-franchise brawler, but after playing it, I can assure you it's got its own feel. The control scheme is identical for all characters, but each move is unique to each character. Circle, Square, and Triangle are all different attack buttons that appear to be able to be chained together in combos, and X is for jumping and double-jumping. Left analog stick and the D-pad are both for movement, while the right analog stick is for grabbing and throwing, which was an interesting change of pace. The shoulder buttons are for taunting (L2), Picking up/throwing items (L1), and performing your special moves (R2).
To score points, rather than knocking the opponents off the screen, you gain them by making kills. To get kills, you have to attack your opponents using regular attacks until your meter grows enough to get up to three special levels. A level 1 special attack tends to only have a small hit radius and can only be used once; a second level move has a much larger range and can hit multiple targets at once; and the level threes are massive abilities that can kill everyone on screen (multiple times, if the timing is right). The only requirement to get a kill is to successfully hit an enemy with a special move; no building damage seems necessary.
There are no health bars or increased damage, the characters remain at the same stamina until their deaths, and from what I played it does not appear you're physically capable of being knocked off the screen on either side or by falling. I played on the God of War/Patapon level and the Jak and Daxter level. If the score is tied at the end, you have to complete overtime battles, which are one-minute matches to see who wins. Since these are based on score and not a last-man-standing or first kill basis, these overtime bouts can repeat.
The lack of a run option (as far as I could tell) and the fact that you press X to jump make the game seem a little slow and sluggish compared to its Nintendo counterpart, but with time and experience I'm sure I will get used to it; in fact I was already almost used to it when I finished up. So far it's a pretty fun game, but I'm sure once people get their hands on it, it will quickly emerge with its own identity due to its unique feel in spite of its inspired look.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is due out this fall for PS3 and Vita, and will be cross system compatible both in gameplay and in saves.