The Ratchet and Clank series has become one of the most prominent platformers of this generation. When Sony and Insomniac announced that All 4 One would not be a traditional sequel for the series, a lot of people were rightfully unhappy about it. All 4 One is a four player co-op affair that happens to feature your favorite characters. It is more of an arcade action-style game than a straight up platformer, but it still retains that Ratchet charm. If you can get past your initial concerns and take it for what it is, All 4 One is definitely one of the better co-op action games I have played in recent memory.
Getting these four characters together took some truly quirky storytelling, but it worked. Captain Quark is now president, and the game begins with him accepting his most recent award: Intergalactic Tool of Justice. He joins Ratchet and Clank at the ceremony only to be thwarted by Dr. Nefarious. Amazingly, another enemy enters the fray and unleashes a massive creature on the city. The four of them now need to join forces to defeat this common foe. Sure, it is contrived and a bit out of character, but we needed a catalyst for the co-op activities.
Co-op and combat are the stars of All 4 One, and it wouldn’t be a Ratchet game without plenty of weaponry. Many favorites make a return, such as Mr. Zurkon, but there are a slew of new ones as well. You can coat enemies with the new slime gun or pound them into oblivion with the pneumatic drill. Switching between each one is as simple as rotating the right analog stick, and unlocking and progression are standard fare. My one downside is that all four characters pretty much carry the same arsenal outside of a few choice weapons. You can purchase armaments at stations located in each level, and ammo stations are littered such that you rarely run out of bullets.
Once you decide to fire up the game, there are a few things to note. This can be played solo with an AI controlled Clank, but hopping into it with friends is the way to go. Whether you choose the classic couch co-op or hop online, conversation is key. Like a lot of recent co-op affairs, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One uses a fixed camera for all players, meaning no one can wander off on their own. This can become bothersome when one player is fighting an enemy or trying to collect an item while the other players are moving on. I am not a big fan of fixed cameras in co-op games, but I understand why they do it. Still, falling to a cheap death because the camera is not cooperating can be a pain.
Playing as a team is the way to go, but there are some competitive aspects as well. For example, bolts, which are used to purchase weapons and upgrades, are not shared. This means whoever breaks the box, gets the cash, thus creating a race to smash boxes instead of working together to fight the enemies. This can lead to arguments, people quitting online and flat out confrontation. It is not so bad playing locally, as you are usually playing with people you are more comfortable with, but online, things can get ugly.
Taking it solo fixes that issue, but you miss out on a lot of the fun of working together. The problem with going solo is that the game design begs playing with multiple people. The AI Clank does what he needs to, and for the most part, handles his business, but as anyone knows, AI is never a substitute for someone actually playing alongside of you. Puzzles requiring multiple players are usually not an issue for Clank, but even then, you feel more like you are going through the motions than actually having a good time. The game is enjoyable, but you have to curb your expectations with the name on the box.
Graphically, the game is what you would come to expect from Insomniac and the series. The cartoony visuals mixed with sci-fi locales create a beautiful mix. The animations are top-notch, and each environment bleeds style. The weapons all have unique effects, and the amount of action with a steady frame rate is impressive. If there is one issue, it is that the camera is pulled back and action gets frantic onscreen. Things get lost, and oftentimes, you are left wondering where your character is. Outside of these instances, though, the game is gorgeous.
Sound is, again, what you come to expect from the series, which is to say excellent. The humor is still here and in full force, complete with a GlaDOS impersonator that delivers on all accounts. The soundtrack is fitting, and effects are familiar. There is nothing revolutionary, but the trademarked humor is definitely accounted for.
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is not your standard Lombax adventure, but what it does, it does well. If you can holster your expectations based on the name, there is a great game here. The co-op action is some of the best I have experienced in a while, and the humor is just as fantastic as it has always been. Playing with others is the way to go, but I strongly recommend playing locally or finding gamers online with headsets.
This game received our “Dad Approved” award. This honor is awarded to games that are not only good games for kids to play, but also need to be titles that have enough enjoyment to keep parents coming back. The ZTGD Dad Approved award is reserved for games that parents will want to play with their children, and are friendly and accessible to even the youngest of gamers.
Review copy provided by publisher.