Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Interesting, Unexpected, and Fated To Obscurity

It’s Ratchet & Clank’s 10 year anniversary. Did you know that? No? Well that goes to show you all the problems that Ratchet and Clank have been facing over these past few years.

The iconic pseudo-mascot duo has fallen out of the public spotlight, and hard. In an age where everyone Is looking for the next big shooter, fighter, or action game, mascot-based platformers are overlooked by the majority of the gaming populace unless they star Mario or Sonic. So Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault isn’t a joyous birthday bash that celebrates everything the duo has done these past ten years; it’s a low-key party at the nerdy kid’s house down the street, interesting and quite possibly fun if only anyone cared enough to show up.

Where do two titans of PS2 mascothood go in the modern day of PS3 gaming? To the tower defense genre, apparently. Now, tower defense is great within an RTS context and as an iOS time waster. However, it’s just not what fans truly want from Ratchet & Clank, a franchise that has always sold itself on cartoony action and ludicrous weapons of all shapes and sizes.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Screenshot

So here’s the setup: Ratchet and Clank have been drafted by Captain Qwark to play intergalactic repairmen. They must travel around the galaxy, repairing planetary defense centers as members of the heroic Q-Force. Unless these automated defenses come back online, the evil Zurgo will be free to wreck stuff, or something.

And that’s just about all the plot has to give us. Granted, Ratchet and Clank games aren’t exactly known for their stunning storytelling, so this shouldn’t really surprise anyone. The story is really just a setup for the numerous jokes and references the game will throw at you. It’s very self-aware, referencing previous titles as well as cracking wise about things only longtime lovers of the series will recognize. Unfortunately, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Full Frontal Assault is just shallower than other entries in the series were. It doesn’t interfere with your enjoyment of the game too much, but you’ll be hard-pressed to remember what the heck this game was about once you put it down.

Every level of Full Frontal Assault is a maze with a mass of generators on one end. Enemies will periodically spawn and start marching toward the generator, and it’s your job to make sure that the enemies never get there.

You have two ways to combat the enemies. You can either go about it old school Ratchet & Clank style and combat them with your own ludicrous arsenal of cartoony weapons, or you can build a variety of turrets, barriers, mines, and other defenses that you can place at fixed points throughout the map. However, it’s not good enough just to survive. Your eventual goal is to take out enemy encampments and activate nodes that will allow you to re-activate the aforementioned planetary defense systems. So once you have your defenses set up, you need to take the battle to the enemy.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Screenshot

At the beginning of each map, all you have is your trusty wrench and a wide-open space in which you’ll start planning the slaughter. Unfortunately, this means that a good portion of every level is actually just a resource grid where you’ll be seeking out nuts, bolts, and weapon pods in order to arm yourself and set up your automated defenses. In the beginning, a lot of these tasks can be accomplished by simply heading out to where the enemy is and beating the crap out of them, picking up whatever items you find along the way.

However, as the game goes on and the enemy routes get more complex, protecting your base becomes more and more of a chore. In fact, you’ll find yourself frequently abandoning a location you were just fortifying to head back to your base and protect it from enemies that have slipped through your defenses, only to find that enemies have destroyed the fortifications you were working on by the time you get back.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Screenshot

Tower defense games were originally created with a top-down RTS-style view in mind. If a couple of the enemy units managed to bust through your defenses and get to your base, you were only a few clicks away from being back in your base and handling it. Full Frontal Assault, on the other hand, takes place in the traditional behind-the-back action view that we are used to from other Ratchet & Clank games. That means that simply getting back to your base can be daunting at times. You can easily get lose in some of the bigger maps, going the wrong way as enemies continue their trek toward your generators. You are equipped with Hoverboots that allow you to zoom around the map at high speeds, but they don’t do much other than make you get lost faster.

Full Frontal Assault is a lot of fun as an action game, but not much fun as a tower defense game. Your static defenses aren’t very powerful at all, and just about every serious threat needs to be dealt with personally. Some of the larger enemies in the game simply eat everything you throw at them without flinching. In fact, sometimes you’ll watch one of the towering enemies come into a section of crossfire so laden with turrets that you won’t even be able to see what’s going on, and it will still survive. You never get the ability to sit back and watch a well-planned defense do its job. You always have to be on the move, adding your own firepower to any conflict of import.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Screenshot

Believe it or not, Full Frontal Assault is actually much more fun in co-op mode. This way, one player can handle all of the static defenses while another player sets out and completes all the active mission objectives. This type of teamwork just feels natural and makes the game a lot less frantic. Competitive multiplayer is also a treat, as building defenses, spawning enemies, and attacking your enemy’s base all at once creates this nice tug of war style gameplay that we haven’t much in multiplayer games these days.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault is an okay little game. Overall, it’s fun, but the gameplay can get grindy, repetitive, and frustrating at times. It’s certainly a good idea that had a lot of potential, and at downloadable price it’s really not the worst deal out there. However, it’s not the game that R&C fans wanted to celebrate the series’ ten-year anniversary with. It doesn’t have the story, the action, or the overall feel of classic Ratchet and Clank adventures. Rather, it’s just a neat little side story that, while fun, is fated to be forgotten like many other contemporary R&C titles. This isn’t the big comeback Ratchet and Clank fans were waiting for, and if that comeback couldn’t happen on their tenth anniversary, I’m not sure it ever will.

The graphics are decent and have that natural Ratchet & Clank cartoony look to them. 3.5 Control
The game controls well, but falls victim to the normal flaws a behind-the-back tower defense has to contend with. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
It’s not the Ratchet cast’s best work, but it’s passable. 3.0 Play Value
It’s a short game with a sometimes frustrating premise. While fun, it is almost guaranteed to fade into obscurity. 3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Enjoy cross-play and cross-save compatibility with the PS Vita version of the game.
  • Competitive and cooperative multiplayer
  • A variety of classic Ratchet & Clank weapons to choose from.

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