Ratchet & Clank: QForce PS3 Review

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe  Developer: Insomniac Games  

Genre: Action  Players: 1-4  Age Rating: 7+  Other console/handheld formats: PS Vita

It seems that developer Insomniac Games have wanted to experiment with their Ratchet & Clank series in recent years. Last year’s Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One was a cooperative spin on the series that, while not one of the stronger games in the series, was certainly a lot of fun. This year, we’ve had the release of The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the series, which, being a collection of HD updates of PS2 games, was a compilation of how the series began. Being such a milestone anniversary, the titular duo have also got a new game in the form of Ratchet & Clank: QForce.

Combining action and tower defense elements, Ratchet & Clank: QForce is not a Ratchet & Clank game in the traditional sense, although there’s still more than enough here to remind us all that this is indeed a Ratchet & Clank game we are playing. Some may be pining for the return of a return to the roots of the series, although others will approve of the boldness of this experimentation.

QForce features Cross-play and Cross-Buy, meaning, when the delayed Vita version is released in January, you’ll be able to download it at no extra cost as well as play online multiplayer against those on either system.

The story is still very silly and, at times, highly amusing, although there isn’t a lot of it in QForce. The game seemingly wants to quickly rush you away from watch mode and into play mode, and all you basically need to know is that, as part of team QForce, the feline-like Ratchet and the mini robot that is Clank are defending planets from a nasty villain.

The smooth and responsive action definitely captures what a Ratchet & Clank game should be all about, with familiar characters, weapons, and those all important bolts, all making an appearance. As mentioned earlier, it’s the tower defense mechanics that really shifts the series into a new direction.

As you have a base on each of the five large open levels, it’s up to you to make sure that any invaders are dealt with before they are able to destroy all five of your generators. As tower defense goes, you’ll be buying defenses (the currency you will be using is the series’ bolts) and will also be able to repair any damage that your important generators take from the enemy onslaught. You can set-up turrets, mines and barricades to defend your base from any attacks.

It’s not all tower defense though, as you’ll have to leave your base in order to carry out your own tasks, of which largely involves activating the key nodes in each level, and finding bolts is also a must if you are wanting to add those important defenses. During your time outside your base, enemies sometimes launch an attack, which will have you frantically rushing back to help out your defenses or to perhaps place a new turret or a mine to assist with the effort of ridding your base of these pests. You are equipped with a pair of rocket boots, which is handy when speed is of the utmost importance.

At the start of each level, you’ll only have your wrench to protect yourself with, although your arsenal can be bolstered by coming across weapon pods, of which are accessed through a mini game, and this, in turn, unlocks new weapons to use against your enemies. It’s a system that makes it feel as instantly gratifying as the rest of the game, with you no longer having to buy additions to grow your arsenal.

The campaign can also be played cooperatively with another player, online or locally, although sadly it doesn’t change the fact that, while fun, Ratchet & Clank: QForce, with its repetitive tasks and structure, does become repetitive over time, and that’s even when the lowly number of only five levels is taken into consideration.

The game features a promotion system, in which you’ll unlock various perks to improve your character with.

Besides playing the campaign cooperatively, Ratchet & Clank: QForce also has a competitive online mode for up to four players. This mode works through three phases – racing and fighting for nodes (the more nodes you own, the more bolts you’ll earn to spend) in the first round, in the second round you have the opportunity to spend your bolts to increase your base defenses, while the final round is of course the actual assault. Like the campaign, the competitive multiplayer is fun, although it does become a little repetitive.

So the game could have benefited from less repetitive missions and a more diverse structure, but Ratchet & Clank: QForce is still an interesting experiment, and one which largely works. With only five missions, the campaign is short, but the budget price must be taken into consideration and the fact that the game has a likeable multiplayer mode. In the end, this isn’t the strongest outing for the famous pairing of the feline-like creature and the little robot, but it’s certainly one that is worth a look.