Guess whose back? Yup, its Ratchet and Clank, and the dynamic duo’s creators Insomniac Games have given us a new R&C title to savour. This time, however, it’s an all-new 4 player adventure in which we play as Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and our former enemy Dr Nefarious. All 4 One marks the first time in the franchise that you can have 4 player co-op platforming fun, so let’s look a little deeper and see what’s under the bonnet.
The story takes up a few years after the last game (A Crack in Time), we join our President, Captain Qwark, who’s set to be honoured with the perfectly named: Intergalactic Tool of Justice Award, and so naturally, he asks Ratchet and Clank to accompany him. In fact, the whole thing turns out to be a trap by Dr Nefarious to capture Qwark and unleash the Z’Grute from its frozen sleep. When Nefarious hits the Z’Grute with the reanimation ray which causes it to life, however, the Z’Grute proves to be uncontrollable and turns on its master. This makes Dr Nefarious join our heroes and Qwark to try and stop it. It’s a little bit flimsy a reason for Dr Nefarious to switch sides and joins the good guys, but it’s still believable, just. And the revelations don’t end there, play a little more and you see a higher evil is at work as the story becomes deeper and takes some surprising twists.
Despite this being an off-shoot to the regular R&C games, it’s clear that consideration has been given to the sotry, and it actually turns out to be one of the better ones in the franchise. All 4 One’s control system is similar to that in previous R&C games, shooting your weapons is the same as before and jumping is via the X button – be warned, you cannot accurately aim as you have to make do with a lock-on system. Pressing X twice gives you a higher jump and you also have the stomp attack. The goal is to kill all the enemies that come at you whilst collecting bolts. Bolts are the game’s currency, and with them, you can buy some serious firepower.
On closer inspection, the game actually turns out to provide some immensely good multiplayer fun. You and three friends can enjoy shooting at its best, even though a lot of enemies will come at you and the screen gets very full, you never lose sight of your character. On the downside, however, the fixed camera does make All 4 One seem more restricted than the previous games. The vast openness of A Crack in Time has definately been sacrificed to squeeze in the game’s four player aspect.
This game is not only a shooting frenzy, as there is a good deal of puzzle solving and driving to add some variation to the gameplay. The vacuum is your weapon of choice for most of the puzzles and you can use it on fans,or to suck up enemies and then use their abilities to power generators. A good aspect of All 4 One’s gameplay, is the way you need to work with your team-mates to solve some of the puzzles. Even if your playing with AI companions, they’re actually pretty good at helping you not only in puzzle solving but shooting. However, there were times when they ran off a ledge, which really isn’t very helpful at all.
The famous R&C weapons are back and they are the usual mix of insane and pretty good. All are crafted with the usual love and attention you expect from Insomniac, but the problem I had was with the way you choose weapons, which requires you to hold the R1 button and cycle with the right stick. I found this to be clunky and during fighting sequences it did get in the way. You have at your disposal such guns as the Frost Cannon, Plasma Bomb Launcher and Warmonger, along with older weapons like the Combuster. The damage they deal, however, is not what you expect, as the weapons you anticipate would do the most damage don’t do that much.
The graphics are very bright and the levels themselves look great, it has to be noted that the stunning looks of A Crack in Time have been toned back. It’s a shame, as the graphics in that game were a great improvement and I thought that they would get better and better. I understand that it was a decision that had to be taken to accommodate the four play aspect, but even so, I definitely felt the visuals here could have at least been a touch better. It’s still a Rachet and Clank game, but because of the slightly sub-par graphics and awkward fixed camera, it’s one not quite as we know it.
All 4 One will give you a good 10-12 hours of solid gameplay. There are so many collectibles from the normal golden bolts to critters and skill points. Another cool point is that, when you finish a level, you are graded against the other players to see who came out the best, who killed more and who collected the most.
Overall, All 4 One is a good addition to the franchise. The focus on the four player co-op is a nice variation on the standard R&C formula and adds some variety to the old gameplay formula. I am disappointed in the graphics, however, as the dazzling looks of A Crack in Time are just not present. The change to play with friends and the sheer number of collectibles add a lot to this game which brings something new to the franchise. So go gather those bolts.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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