Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Review (PS3)

As posted on ButtonMasher.

 

It looks like Ratchet & Clank. It sounds like Ratchet & Clank. But is this game really Ratchet & Clank?

To make my conclusion prematurely I would have to go with; it’s not Ratchet & Clank. This title was developed by Insomniac Games but it plays like a movie tie-in. If you thought All 4 One would be Ratchet with 4 player co-op you’d best prepare for disappointment.

If you’re in it for the pictures you can breathe a sigh of relief. The Ratchet & Clank games are always nicely animated, and there’s no exception here. Its pretty darn close to a Pixar movie even without the cutscenes. After a rather extended cutscene and a set of unusual circumstances, we find that Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, & Dr. Nefarious are captured and are now working together.

Starting back with the PS2 the previous six or so games were very intense platformers. All 4 One feels like a Ratchet game dumbed-down for kids. It’s like hopping onto a roller coaster then realising you got onto a merry-go-round. Now I’m all for its existence, but Ratchet fans are going to be extremely annoyed if they bought this day one expecting it to be… well, a Ratchet game.

Multiplayer isn’t exactly new to the franchise. In Deadlocked/Gladiator you had 2-player co-op. In the third game you had online multiplayer matches. I remember playing some rather neat 4-player splitscreen matches in… some Ratchet game — they all seem to blend together at this point. From the start this game in particular was built around four-player co-op. Though the word co-op is a misnomer here.

While you do have to work with each other, it often feels like the whole thing is some big competition. You have players racing to get all the bolts. And at some stage while you play a screen interrupts you saying how much better the other player players are. How they collected more bolts, more critters, they performed more co-op actions. I played online with one guy who more than doubled my score each time. And since bolts are the currency of the game you’re going to be stuck with the short end of the stick when it comes to shopping for upgrades and new weapons.

At least when you’re falling you have a slim chance of grappling onto another player and swinging to their location. But even with Griefing turned off in the lobby it doesn’t stop it from happening. To get to platforms further than you can jump you need to suck in another player with your little suck machine and spit them out over a large distance. Of course you can also aim for the abyss below. Which I did. Accidently. A few times

You have four players running about a single screen from an overhead camera point of view, confined to each other’s company. Even the later Lego games had the guts to let players deviate. Here, not so much. The levels are simple and linear. Shooting is auto-lock on and requires no aiming whatsoever. The puzzles you encounter are just as simple. There’s a few puzzles where you have to pull down some tubes for a critter to get through. The switches were all in a line, and already ordered. I would hardly call that a puzzle.

As with all Ratchet games there is a big focus on your arsenal. There are the standard gun and grenade throwing weapons, together with the all-crazy Mr. Zurkon,  flame thrower, electro-whip and what have you. Each level has vendors along the way which let you purchase guns and upgrades with what little bolts you managed to scab along the way. But none of the combat felt rewarding no matter what weapon I had equipped.

If you don’t have any offline pals, you’re going to have to jump online. While it is possible to play alone with an AI pal, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies. It would be more fun ejecting and inserting the disc, over and over again.

As for playing online you can wait endlessly in a lobby with the current level you’re up to, or you can jump into a game in session. The problem is this could be any of the game’s levels, no matter what you’ve played so far. But the story is so weak that I guess it doesn’t really matter. So feel free to jump into anyone’s game in session.

Closing Comments

If you have little ones they will probably enjoy All 4 One. It’s cute, colourful, and not too hard. The cutscenes are well produced and voice acted (but hard for me to watch personally). Ratchet fans (if you are still out there) I recommend skipping this one entirely. A Crack in Time might be the last great Ratchet game. Time to move on Insomniac.

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