Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Review

by on November 2, 2011

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One ReviewGame: Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Developer: Insomniac Games

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Available on: PlayStation 3 Only

The Ratchet & Clank series of games are almost universally loved, their sense of comedy coupled with the impressive gameplay and stunning visuals almost guarantee it a place in every PlayStation owner’s heart, however, up until now they’ve always been single player affairs, the type of game that you lock yourself away with for a few hours because you don’t want to be distracted as you indulge in what is essentially a Saturday morning cartoon in video game form.

How does such an iconic single player game hold up when taking the plunge and deciding to venture into the multiplayer, and more specifically, co-operative play domain? Does it maintain that same charisma and charm that rose it to the levels that its currently enjoying or does it take something away from what is essentially the spirit of the game? That’s what we’re here to find out!

STORY: The story of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is one of the more stranger ones for people that have been playing the previous games in the series. The last time we met Dr. Nefarious, for example, we were working towards destroying him, this time we’re working with him in order to destroy a common evil. The enemy of my enemy is my friend…I suppose. That being said Dr. Nefarious isn’t all that happy about it and will do everything he can to get out of doing any actual work; all adding to the hilarity of the situation.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One - Beams

The game starts off normally enough, with Dr. Nefarious up to his usual tricks, but soon enough the tables are turned and you must all work together to fight against a new threat, one that the good doctor assures us is not one of his. The rest of the story follows the fairly standard rules of a Ratchet & Clank game, the world is in danger, you’re given the job of saving everybody, hilarity ensues and, hopefully, you’ll manage to save the day. Only this time you’ve got to work together in order to do so.

GRAPHICS: As we’ve come to expect from a game with the Ratchet & Clank name at the beginning of it, it looks great. All of the objects within the game are nicely modelled in a big and bulky fashion, just like the objects in a Saturday morning cartoon. All easily recognisable from a distance and after only having a small glance. Very important when a small glance is all you get before the next wave of enemies is upon you. The characters too are well modelled and instantly iconic, from the main characters themselves all the way through to the characters you may only see once or twice through the course of the whole campaign.

The main bulk of the game looks great but once you get close up on some of the characters, mainly during the numerous cutscenes, you’ll start to notice some slight discrepancies, it’s mostly the kind of stuff you’d see in most games of this generation, pixellation of the shadows, sharp edges on some of the areas that should be smooth, that sort of thing, but the rest of the game looks so good that it makes them much easier to see when they do occur.

SOUND: The sound in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is something that’s not really noticeable at all during most of the gameplay, you’ll be too busy smashing robots up and trying to force the other players to do what they’re supposed to be doing, but when the tension builds up and the music follows suit it’s certainly very impressive. As with all of the other Ratchet & Clank games all of the characters are voiced extremely well, the acting perfectly captures the emotions and, more importantly, the comedy of the title. All of the sound effects within the game are well made and help to bring the player into the immersion of the game experience on the whole, shooting lasers at robots while dodging, jumping and smashing never sounded so entertaining!

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One - Chasm

GAMEPLAY: As with all of the other Ratchet & Clank games, gameplay revolves around the platforming, walking between each of the set pieces and destroying wave upon wave of enemies that whatever evil genius is behind the plot that our faithful duo are trying to unravel, will undoubtedly throw at you. This new game in the series is no different in that basic aspect of the gameplay, however, there are a few extra things that players need to be made aware of. Firstly, you’re not alone, as you have been for the most part in the previous games, even in the offline mode, where you may think that you’ll be able to run around and play the game just like any other platformer, you have to contend with a second player walking around in the background and inevitably making things even worse. When playing with the A.I. co-op player the most frustrating thing was the fact that they would either keep falling off of the edge of the platform that we happened to be standing on or simply just constantly walking out into the path of enemy fire; not helpful in the slightest.

If you get too fed up of the A.I. character messing things up and forcing you to redo sections of the game because they’re being distracting with the whole falling off of the level thing, then you could ask a friend to join you in the fun, connecting a second controller to the console and starting up a second character helping you themselves instead of relying on the intelligence of the computer to figure out all the precise timings of the jumps. This is certainly the area of the game that Insomniac Games want you to be concentrating on, and definitely the area of the game that most of their time has been spent focusing on. The jump in, jump out functionality will ensure that your friends only need to play when they want and don’t have to feel that just because they’ve started a level they need to finish it. If they get fed up they can just let the computer take over, probably much to the disdain of the main player.

If you don’t happen to have any friends around at that particular moment in time, or they’re not interested in helping, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One gives the player the ability to jump online and find their own set of intrepid adventurers to play through the levels with them. The online mode works fairly well and, at the time of writing, there seem to be a good amount of players online and using the feature, however, it can sometimes take a long time to load a level and connect to the other players in the group, during which time you’ll be staring at the loading screen. Not a particularly exciting experience. Eventually the game will give you the option to attempt a reload or cancel entirely but it certainly does feel disappointing when you’re only looking for a quick 20 minutes level to pass the time and it takes half of that just to find a group and load the scenario.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One - Flamethrower

LONGEVITY: There are multiple ways of extending the lifetime of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Feel like upgrading your favourite character? Go right ahead! How about collecting all of the possible critters within the world in an attempt to flesh out the bestiary? Sure, why not? The entertainment value of the main game, coupled with how satisfying smashing the myriad of boxes open, means that many players will find themselves drawn back to the game even if they’re only playing it in the single player modes. Taking the game online is yet another reason to keep playing the game as players can choose any level and any area to go back to once they’ve been there before. If you’ve found a place that you particularly enjoyed playing through you’ll be able to go online, load that section and play with 3 other people online. You won’t get the same experience twice.

VERDICT: If you’ve played all of the Ratchet & Clank games on the PlayStation 3 to date then you won’t find yourself disappointed with this latest iteration, however, if you’ve never played any of the previous games then you would probably do better to go back and play some of those first. If you’re a player that tends to play their games on your own then you will find yourself frustrated with Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One’s forced co-operative sections, especially considering that that A.I., at times, can be extremely obstructive, with them often deciding not to stand on the pads or react to the numerous objects that require multiple players. Conversely, players who spend their time in multiplayer games will find no better co-op experience on the market at the moment. The charm that you would expect from a game in this series is all present and correct, the humour and the gameplay too. Whatever type of gamer you are, you’ll find something to entertain yourself with in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One.

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