Platform | Release Date
PS3 | October 18, 2011
Developed by Insomniac Games
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
We find our heroes in the midst of a dilemma of intergalactic proportions when Dr. Nefarious’ latest evil plan goes awry leaving Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Nefarious himself caught in the snare of a powerful and mysterious machine. Begrudgingly, the Galaxy’s biggest do-gooders and its most sinister criminal must work together to discover a means of escape in this action-packed installment of the Ratchet & Clank series.
I am a Ratchet fan, and have been playing the games since the beginning of the series. Ratchet & Clank has always possessed charm, carried by clever writing, fun inventive gameplay and a cast of likeable characters. With multiplayer and co-op play dominating the current market, Insomniac Games have taken the obvious path with their newest instalment in this popular franchise and included 4 player coop. This leaves the question, was this the right path to choose?
After putting it into my PS3, I was greeted with a message warning of a mandatory installation to the hard drive. This was followed by a 2 minute cut scene after which an installation screen appeared with the progress bar at 15%. After another 8 minutes I was finally able to play. The main menu gives a choice of online or offline play, which both consist of the exact same gameplay and levels. In fact, while playing the single player, I was surprised to see that all the contraptions in each level were built for four, rather than the two players that are available while playing solo; Ratchet played by you, and Clank controlled by AI. The game was clearly built completely around the co-op aspect, and that’s how I played majority of the game. Fortunately the co-op is creative and fun.
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. I love games that require teamwork and in All 4 One the concept is implanted into your brain from the beginning. This game is all about teamwork, not even being able to move from point A to point B without the help of your teammate and a 2 person grappling hook type move. While using your weapons, teamwork gives you an extra boost of power. Every cutscene encourages working together for success, leaving me confused as to why the developers chose not to share the in-game currency, bolts, amongst all the players. The fun teamwork aspect seemed to fade quickly as my three companions raced me to each crate of bolts, trying to collect the most in each stage to then earn a bolt bonus at the end of the round. This competition would have been fun if it was a race for points rather than a race for currency used to purchase and upgrade weapons.
Unlike other Ratchet titles, the weapons are not upgraded by use but rather by purchases made with bolts. Though there are many different weapons, I found myself sticking to one (the strongest) and using all my bolts to upgrade that gun. With plenty of ammo drops using just the one is not only possible, but a perfectly acceptable way of playing the game. Along with weapons, tools also play a part in All 4 One, the most frequently used being the vacuum. You can use it to collect animals around the planet for bonus bolts or to vacuum up your teammate and shoot them across the map. The vacuum is one of the most creative gameplay elements I have seen in recent years.
Don’t get me wrong, if this wasn’t a Ratchet & Clank game I would have been happier. With beautiful animation and near flawless technical execution, the game is incredibly well made. But coming into it after playing the previous titles, I was left unfulfilled. The story seemed scattered and characters I had grown to love were only shadows of their previous selves, including the strange teaming with Dr. Nefarious. Though it falls short as a Rachet & Clank game, newcomers to the series will enjoy the creative co-op, a plethora of weapons and tools, and variety of gameplay. However, if you are a long time R&C lover, don’t expect the ride you have come to expect.