Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One PS3 Review

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Insomniac Games – Genre – Action – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 7+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Take for instance Resident Evil 4’s radical reinvention from a slower paced and more cerebral offering into a straight shooter, and Grand Theft Auto IV’s darker narrative approach and mechanics that are more grounded in reality, a contrast to a series that was once OTT in nature. When a cherished series gets dramatic changes, there’s always ire from some of their staunchest supporters. Ratchet & Clank is the latest franchise to get a reworking, introducing the series to one of this generation’s most liberally used of features: co-op.

With its outlandish weaponry, generously hued visuals and amusing sense of humour, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One still very much carries the DNA of Insomniac’s series, but its unfamiliar emphasis on co-op is certain to diversify long time devotees of Ratchet & Clank, that just desire more of the same.

The co-op element is drop in/out and supports up to 4 players, both local and online, though the screen tends to get too busy in the more chaotic situations with three or four players, and is much more pleasant with two players. The co-op has few real surprises in its mechanics. It has you working together to advance through the game, taking down enemies along the way. Using the same weapon as each other on a single enemy will reward you with additional damage, and drawing the fire of certain enemies, whilst another player flanks them is an occasional tactical requirement. Each character also carries a hoover too, of which can be used to suck up another player to discharge them over to an otherwise out of reach area. There’s also a wonderful competitive aspect that has you contesting to reach bolts and hoover up critters, amongst other things, all of which is tallied at the conclusion of a stage.

When playing solo, you’re accompanied by an AI companion, of which is mostly capable enough, but do walk off ledges to their doom a bit too often. It has not been affected by shifting its focus to co-op in the way that the Resident Evil series did with Resident Evil 5, and it can easily be played alone, even though it fails to offer an experience that’s as enjoyable as the co-op and you’re essentially only getting half the experience.

You can take charge of Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark or Dr Nefarious. But you’ll have much the same experience whoever you opt for, though each has a single weapon unique to them as well as their own unique animations and dialogue. But it’s mostly a missed opportunity in creating four distinct characters.

The weapons are typically outlandish. There’s a Combustion Blaster, Plasmabomb Launcher, Warmonger Rocket Launcher, Mr. Zurkon, Arc Lasher, Flame Thrower and Freeze Ray. There’s plenty of variety, though there’s not really much new and some of the ones that are, are merely re-imaginings of others.

The weapons upgrade system functions differently to what it did in previous titles. They no longer level up through use and instead by spending your hard earned bolts, you’re able to upgrade them in one of three areas: increasing damage, the ammo it can hold, and transforming them into the elite versions.

There’s a variety of enemies, though unfortunately they don’t require a variety of tactics to defeat and, much of the time, any weapon is effective against them. In this way it doesn’t encourage experimentation, though an occasional switch of weapon can help to stop the game from becoming too monotonous.

The earlier PS3 entries of the series were likened to Pixar films with their visual quality, which was no small praise, but Ratchet & Clank: All 4 one, whilst often an appealing looking game, doesn’t manage to equal this. The fixed camera can occasionally be problematic too, sending you tumbling into an unseen abyss.

Whilst not one of the highlights of the series, with Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, Insomniac has not forgotten much of the key ingredients that make a Ratchet & Clank game, though at the same time the addition of co-op has resulted in it being a very different game, but it’s nonetheless successful at steering the franchise in a fresh direction, that being a simplistic but enjoyable co-op experience set in the memorable Ratchet & Clank universe.

Fans, let the raging commence.