|Dev: Insomniac Games|
|Pub: Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release: October 18, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Language|
by Josh Engen
I've always been a casual fan of the Ratchet & Clank franchise, but when Insomniac Games announced that Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One would focus heavily on co-operative play, I upgraded my devotion to the series. See, even with a steady stream of co-op games making their way onto the market, finding a decent co-operative experience is still pretty difficult, and Ratchet & Clank have a long history of making people giggle.
For those of you who have been following the series, All 4 One picks up after the events of A Crack in Time and the comic book series. Somehow, Captain Qwark has been elected President and is on his way to accept the prestigious Intergalactic Tool of Justice Award. Unfortunately, it turns out that the award is not prestigious at all; it's a thinly veiled trap set by Dr. Nefarious.
Nefarious, in an attempt to squash President Qwark, awakens a monster that appears to be half fish, half snake, half Vin Diesel. However, his evil plan quickly backfires, and he's compelled to join forces with Ratchet, Clank, and Qwark in order to save his own skin. Eventually, a more intricate story unfolds that involves an evil villain known as "the Creature Collector," kidnapping, and a high stakes intergalactic poker game. (Okay, that last one isn't actually in there, but I'm hoping Insomniac Games considers it for a future Ratchet title.)
This is probably pretty obvious by now, but I'll say it anyway. When you launch All 4 One, Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious will be your character choices. And, even though I dig the addition of Dr. Nefarious, I can't help but be a little disappointed that each character has exactly the same abilities. Everyone carries the same guns, runs the same speed, jumps the same height, etc.
One of the things that adds life to a really great co-op game is the complication that comes from individuality. Now, this is not to say that All 4 One is inadequate. In fact, the opposite is true, but this issue does seem to stand in the way of true co-op perfection. However, I also understand that Insomniac was attempting to create a game for all ages—something that parents and children could enjoy together—and giving each character a range of intricate personal abilities would pretty much ruin the enjoyment factor for the younger players. So, even though I understand their choice, I still can't help but wish things were a little different. Why do kids ruin everything?
All 4 One's gameplay is slightly different from its predecessors, but it still feels fluid and intuitive. The controls are simple and each element is spoon-fed to the player during the very long introductory scene. Anyone who can read will be an expert on the control setup after playing for a half hour.
Players who are familiar with the pervious titles will immediately notice one major difference: the nonexistent camera controls. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One employs a fixed camera that follows you around like a rail shooter. This was probably implemented to make co-op play slightly more manageable, but it has a tendency to teeter on the side of clunkiness when things get a little hectic.
However, the klutzy camera work is quickly made up for by the gameplay mechanics, which are varied and incredible. Before players have even completed the opening sequence, they've bolted through several different gameplay modes without even noticing. They've even driven a taxicab via the forces of gravity and swung across vast crevasses via an electric whip.
The gameplay mechanics are heavily accentuated by the ever-increasing catalog of weaponry. Ratchet & Clank veterans will probably recognize most of the arsenal (including the beloved Mr. Zurkon), but will also notice a few newcomers, like the pneumatic drill and reflector shield. And, even though many of these weapons may be familiar to longtime fans, All 4 One uses them in a slightly different way.
That's because co-op reigns supreme in this rendition of Ratchet & Clank. So the developers have included several team-play elements. For instance, when two players simultaneously fire the same weapon at an enemy, the weapons receive a significant damage bonus. This is the only way to take down some of the more powerful enemies, plus it looks cool.