If you haven’t had a chance to play the Ratchet and Clank series you are missing out. I didn’t catch onto the series until this console generation, but when I discovered Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction I was blown away. The game was incredibly creative, entertaining and funnier than any game I have ever played. The retail sequel, A Crack in Time, delivered the same level of enjoyment. During my time with these two games, I never once wondered what it would be like to play cooperatively. With the release of the Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One beta I decided to find out if co-op makes a difference.
Ultimately, whether or not you enjoy Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One depends on several things, but before I get into that let me give you the details. All 4 One is a four player co-op game set in the Ratchet and Clank universe. Players are given the opportunity to play as Ratchet and Clank as well as two other series regulars, Captain Qwark and Dr. Nefarious. The beta only has two levels to play through, Luminopolis and N.E.S.T., both of which seem short, but allow players who enjoy short gaming sessions the ability to pick it up and play a few levels quickly. The beta gives players no story elements and there is no explanation as to why Ratchet, Clank, and Captain Qwark are working with long-time series villain Dr. Nefarious. All players are told is what is going on in the level and how to handle it. As far as the beta goes, that is really all you need.
As I said before, whether or not you will like All 4 One depends on several things. First, can you handle the fact that this is clearly a co-op game? The game is designed for multiple players and that is the way it has to be played. Even when there is not another human player, you are given an A.I. partner to assist you with co-op tasks. Everything about the level design is suited for co-op. Second, are you willing to go at the pace of the group? One screen and four players means that someone will inevitably charge forward leaving other players behind and crammed into the edge of the screen. If you are like me, you like to go it at your own pace, break every box and collect every bolt. Some other players may not do it like that, which means you can either go at the pace of the group or fight to control the screen.
Third, do you have friends to play this game with? I think this may be the most important factor as to whether or not you’ll like All 4 One. If you do not have friends to play with, there is the ability to join or host games that other players can drop in and out of. Dropping in and out of games is easy and does not get in the way of the general flow of the game. Some players will request the host to restart the current section as a new player joins, but that is up to the host, and even that does not interrupt the game much. If you have friends to play with, or get a good group of players, everything will be fine, but anyone who has played online co-op knows that that is not always the case.
For example, I was playing a session with three other people online, and at a part that required all four players to stand on specific pads to raise the elevator, the player controlling Clank consistently jumped off the platform leading to the other players swinging their primary weapons at Clank who continued to jump off the platform until he/she dropped out of the game. In a situation like that, the game comes to a screeching halt. Having friends to play with may be the difference between enjoying the game and hating it.
Finally, do you like Ratchet and Clank? All 4 One has everything that has made Ratchet and Clank a hit for so long. The commentary is funny, the game play is enjoyable and there are tons of crazy weapons (only a few are available for the beta). If you have enjoyed Ratchet and Clank over the years, and you like gaming with other players from your couch or online, than you will probably enjoy All 4 One.
It is important to remember that this is only a beta and the final game could be changed in any number of ways. Yet, if the beta is any indication of what the final game will look like, gamers should be excited. The Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One beta is different from other Ratchet and Clank games, but it is fun and does co-op well. If you have enjoyed the series, then All 4 One may be worth your time when it hits store shelves on October 18, 2011.