Written by Micah Messer
Sorry for the delay folks, I was distracted by Orcs Must Die and Infamous: Festival of Blood. Bastards! In any case, here’s the review for Ratchet and Clank All 4 One!
Insomniac has been very busy recently. With the freshly released Resistance 3, and the still-in development Overstrike; perhaps the title getting the least amount of attention is Ratchet and Clank All 4 One. The long-running Sony-exclusive series has been around for almost ten years now. That’s right, your favorite Lombax and sentient robot duo have appeared in over ten different titles over that amount of time. Seven of them being official releases developed by Insomniac themselves for Sony’s home consoles (PS2/PS3), with Ratchet and Clank All 4 One marking number eight for that group. The Ratchet and Clank series has always been a blast; but after that many games, it’s understandable that the formula could start to become a bit stale. Insomniac attempts to mix it up a bit by adding 4 player co-op into the series for the first time in All 4 One. We’ve seen co-op before in Ratchet: Deadlocked, but not like this.
I’m a big Ratchet fan. I’ve played all of the official Insomniac releases to completion except A Crack in Time(which I hear is great.) I was very sceptical watching gameplay previews for All 4 One throughout it’s development, but also fairly intrigued to see how well they’d pull off 4 player co-op gameplay. I’m pleased to report that Insomniac has done a great job of implementing co-op into the Ratchet and Clank series, though the formula had to be tweaked a bit to do so. Things like the new shared camera angle make for some chaotic fights where you can lose track of your character at times. While it’s not the deepest experience ever, you’re definitely not wasting your money buying it. It can be a hell of a lot of fun, especially with friends.
Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
Co-op is the name of the game here. It’s how the game developers wanted you to experience this game, and it’s also where you’ll have the most fun. You can play as either Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, and even Doctor Nefarious, each with their own character-specific weapon. Attacking the same target with the same weapon as your party members will grant you a bonus to damage and rate-of-fire, so it pays to work as a team.
The Ratchet and Clank games are well known for their cartoon art style and undeniable charm and humor. Unfortunately, some of this charm is lost in All 4 One, as the plot feels forced; like it was a just last minute excuse to get all of these characters fighting together. I never bought it. It just didn’t click with me in the same way that previous installments did.
Introduced in All 4 One is a new tool called the Vac-U. It’s a gadget that lets you suck things up (including other players) and then shoot them in a direction of your choice. The Vac-U introduces some pretty cool platforming mechanics where you have to use each other as projectiles as well as grappling targets in order to get past obstacles.This might sound bad to the single-player Ratchet enthusiast, but it’s actually quite a lot of fun to sit down on a couch with a few friends and launch each other across gaps (or off a cliff) with your Vac-U’s
Why isn’t Qwark at the top…?
Scattered throughout All 4 One are sequences that require actions from at least 2 characters at once. Insomniac didn’t want to exclude the player that just wanted to sit down and play a Ratchet game by themselves, so they pair you with an AI controlled buddy. Now, I know that hearing me say that probably brought back some horrible memories from Resident Evil 5 that you’ve since tried to block out, but I can assure you that the AI controlled ally in All 4 One is fantastic. I played through a lot of All 4 One solo, and my buddy clank did a great job. He basically just does everything he should be doing at any given time.
Although All 4 One is a lot of fun, it does have some things that I was disappointed with. For instance; the shared camera feels restrictive and occasionally awkward. Also, quite a lot of depth has been lost in it’s transition to co-op. Weapons no longer “level up” as you use them, instead it has been simplified to three weapon upgrades that you can spend cash on. You can purchase bonuses for the gun’s ammo, power, and an expensive “elite” upgrade. There are plenty of guns that you come across throughout this 10-hour adventure, but once you have a team of two people using upgraded elite Critter Strikes (a channeled beam that turns enemies into fire-breathing boars that fight beside you) there’s seldom reason to use anything else.
The Thundersmack gun can create powerful lighting storms above enemies.
Overall Score: 82
All 4 One offers fun, engaging co-op gameplay. It isn’t ground breaking, but it is a lot of fun. If you and your friends like Ratchet and Clank, this is a must buy.
Genre Score (Action-Platformer): 85
Ultimately, All 4 One is a downgrade from previous Ratchet and Clank installments. It removes some of the things that make the Ratchet games so good, but the ability to play with your friends adds some great entertainment value to the genre.