It’s perhaps a little unfortunate that Ratchet & Clank’s first real dalliance with co-op gameplay should hit the shelves at a time when several huge multiplayer titles are scheduled. Nevertheless, Insomniac Games’ latest instalment is a fun shooter, with plenty of platforming and puzzle solving to keep things interesting. The focus on multiplayer is however a bit of a change of direction for the long-running series and may ruffle a few fans’ feathers.
A suitably nice cut scene reintroduces us to Ratchet & Clank who are expressing their desire to take a bit of a break from their heroic exploits of past games – only for the evil Dr Nefarious to rear his ugly dome-shaped head with a typically dastardly plot. Luring our heroes and the lumbering oaf Qwark to a mock award ceremony, Nefarious unleashes the terror of a giant Z’Grute, a light eating beast intent on wreaking havoc and disposing of the three. Problem is, the doctor’s plans go slightly awry.
For the first time in the series, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One features a four player co-op mode – which is available both on- of offline. This means that the unlikely group of Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Dr Nefarious must work together to find out what the heck is going on and rid the world of a weird machine, the Ephemeris Creature Collector, and whoever is in control of it! The Collector snatches the universe’s most dangerous beasts and deposits them on an already hostile planet.
As you’d expect from the series, it’s chock-full of jumping, swinging, smashing and shooting. As ever, Insomniac has also crammed in loads of awesome – and bizarre – gadgets and weapons to brandish – from the Vac-U 4000 for throwing your teammates to different platforms, to the Pyroblaster, Frost Cannon, Warmonger, Blitzer and Arc Lasher.
This is a really entertaining platformer cum shoot-em-up with plenty of puzzles, pads, switches and buttons at every turn. Blasting enemies and collecting bolts to power up your weapons is the name of the game – simple but effective.
Played alone, the levels and enemies are varied enough to keep you entertained, but it’s the multiplayer aspect that really injects some excitement. Should you be unable to find some colleagues to play with, the AI provides some decent support to your quest. With a few other allies onboard, however, everything improves tenfold.
It’s an attractive looking game – perhaps a little too busy at times – but colourful and nicely drawn, with great tones and colours. The animated backgrounds add plenty of depth too. Some of the enemies are fantastic too and well drawn, requiring different techniques to beat them. The screen constantly filled with bullets and bad guys, exploding objects and crates. When the four main characters are in action – and all confined to a single screen – it does seem a little crowded and those bullets get a little harder to avoid.
Nevertheless, the camera angles work particularly well, spinning around to focus on the action. It all feels very dynamic and movie like.
The sound effects are great, with strong voice acting and satisfying bangs and explosions. The humour of the previous games is still prevalent and there are some funny lines crammed in there. It all combines nicely with the dramatic soundtrack that plays away in the background.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a bit of a crossroads for the series. Co-op multiplayer is the headline grabber here and it is a welcome addition, particularly with its drop in/drop out mechanic. It all has a kind of old school vibe about it.
Using Nefarious’ failed plot so that four very unlikely characters can “set aside petty squabbles and act as a single unit” works really well. It really is great to be able to play a strong local co-op game for a change. However, although this is the first time you can truly play with your pals, some may argue that All 4 One’s multiplayer has come at a cost, losing a little of the series’ greatness as a single player game. Personally, I think it’s a great move by Insomniac, and well worth picking up. It’s not too taxing a game by any means but it’s absolutely perfect for a few laughs with friends.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Get a few friends together and this is a real blast. All 4 One is bright, bold and sounds fantastic. Oh, and the weapons are brilliant. Collecting all those bolts is addictive!
Some say it's moved away too much from its roots. Screen can get a little too busy if all four characters are playing. It's not the toughest game and won't take too long to play through