I’m worried about Ratchet & Clank. Now that Insomniac Games are a multiplatform developer with a creative impetus that now goes beyond that of JUST the world of Playstation, one can only wonder what will become of Ratchet, Clank and the beautifully rendered and undeniably charming whimsical intergalactic adventures they’re created over the last decade. Does Ratchet and Clank have a future? It’s hard to tell. The duo’s latest outing marks a refreshing if somewhat intrinsically familiar departure from what we know of R&C. It’s not about you anymore, it’s and you and everyone else. Let’s just hope this isn’t that last time we get to do anything R&C. As finale’s go, this wouldn’t be the most befitting of these two Playstation heroes.
Co-op is king in All 4 One. You can wander through the wacky wondrous worlds presented before you alone if needs be, but that would completely defeat the purpose of this project. It’s about getting around with your friends (3 to be exact) and it’s quite competently executed. You can play as any Ratchet, Clank, Quark or Nefarious, each one with their own skill-set and abilities to layer and vary the co-operative experience. Collectively, you’ll solve puzzles, manipulate the environment, navigate moving vehicles, traverse exposed gaps in the scenery and take out any number of huge alien monsters. It’s core R&C gameplay multiplied by four. That’s not a bad thing.
R&C’s core mechanics are retained in All 4 One; this is still the platformer you love in all but company, that being, you actually have company for a change. The crazy weapons are, as ever, integral to proceedings and doubling up on enemies makes for clever and creative kills. But it’s not just the weapons and the characters; the charm and wit from previous titles is here in abundance, and then some. You’ll chuckle through your play-throughs, every piece of dialogue, every joke and even some of the throwaway comments are hilarious. Nefarious (as ever) is on top form.
Visually, it’s gorgeous. It’s the kind of stuff that Pixar Studios would give two thumbs up. The animations, the colours and the environments and levels are fantastically rendered. It’s not CG, but you could be fooled. In saying that, the stationary cameras actually take away from the beauty just a little bit. You’ll appreciate the beautiful levels and beautiful environments but you’ll miss looking at the over the shoulder close up action. It’s a small gripe but it’s the only way to accommodate four characters on screen at once. There’s a lot going on and sometimes the game’s willingness to get you to co-operate actually holds certain gameplay sequences back. Co-operative tasks come undone very easily. The camera hinders certain jumps and crossings, and cheap deaths are the norm. Its abundantly frustrating at times and sucks some of the fun out of the experience. In fact, I think the game is actually broken in some places, be it a tether swing or an elevator that just won’t let you live. It can get messy and these are unfortunate game breakers.
The story itself is quite good, the only reason you do battle alongside Qwark and Nefarious is to battle a mysterious machine called The Collector that threatens everyone’s collective existence. In saying that, the pacing is a bit off. It’s quite a broken experience and honestly, why your working together becomes a secondary thought once you get into the thick of things. It’s too fragmented for my liking. If you play this game alone, then you’ll struggle to get to the end, it’s tailored for co-op and as such, should really only played this way. It’s just not as fun as a traditional R&C game on your own. When you do get four players going at the same time, there’s a number of odd drop in and drop out choices that really boggle the mind. If you are playing local co-op and your buddy collects a billion bolts (slight exaggeration there) and upgrades a bunch of weapons, if he drops out, he loses everything. Only you, the console owner, retains everything you earn. It’s unexplainable and annoying. Imagine dropping in to a fire-fight near the end while three of your friends have nuclear sub-atomic BFG inspired killing cannons and you have the intergalactic equivalent of an elastic band with cleverly folded paper bullets. Your friends start from the start every time basically. What’s the point?
Frustrations aside, All 4 One is consistent with R&C games of old. It’s fun, user friendly, looks fantastic and it’s a great way of teaming up with your friends to get some good co-op gaming in. But, if this is R&C’s swan song, then it’s a disappointing way of saying goodbye. Don’t get me wrong, All 4 One is a good R&C game, but it’s not the kind of send off R&C should be getting. Where Insomniac Games takes the franchise from here is anyone’s guess. Let’s hope there’s another core Ratchet and Clank game in them. In the mean time, All 4 One is a great way of bridging the gap.
TGL SCORE 7/10
Format: Playstation 3
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
LIKE THEGAMINGLIBERTY ON FACEBOOK HERE