Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: SCEE
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: Singleplayer, Offline Co-op, Up to four player online Co-op
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Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is the first PS3 Ratchet and Clank game to feature multiplayer/co-op, a frequently requested feature by fans of the series. Rather than just make a game with multiplayer competitive game modes like the previous R&C games, Insomniac Games have instead created an all-new adventure designed for you to play with up to three of your friends, helping each other throughout the story, but also competing to finish the level with the most bolts, or critters captured.

When the game is first inserted into your PS3 there is a fairly lengthy initial install of nearly 2.5Gb. While the game is installing an introductory video plays helping to shorten the wait time. This is obviously better than most other games that leave you staring at a progress bar, but the intro doesn’t last for the entire installation, so once the video has finished only about 35% of the game has installed, meaning that you still have to wait a while for it to complete. This introductory typically well-made video sets the story up for the game, so if you miss it you may not completely understand the plot line at all times.

The game features a lengthy story, spread across various planets and environments, and each planet/environment is split into various sections, generally 5 in total, giving you a fairly large amount of gameplay and varying scenery. There are 9 planets in total, each one with a huge amount of detail, both in the foreground and in the far distant backgrounds, giving the game a wonderful feeling of depth and scale. Every place you go is bursting with colour, ranging from deep blues in the Polar Sea, to ranges of bright neon lights in the city of Luminopolis, as can be expected in a Ratchet and Clank game. The environments feature creatures specific to each, and even the critters you collect change in each area, meaning you’ll never become bored of seeing the same enemy over and over again. Each level/section has an end checkpoint, giving you bonus bolts for the number of bolts acquired there, the number of enemies killed and number of critters collected. The levels also have a “tick” checkpoint at various points, which you will restart from if you all die. When one player dies the others can revive them using the vacuum gun, but there's a limited time in which to do it. One annoying point about these checkpoints is even if you pass one, when you quit the game and start again, you will start from the beginning of that section, which is expected for an online as everyone may finish at different points, but when trying to play it offline it does get a bit tedious having to replay the same bit over again just because you quit, however your number of bolts and critters is saved when you quit, along with any weapons or upgrades purchased after the start of that section, so you don’t need to worry about having to buy them again.

The end of each environment/level generally features a boss battle, as is customary for a Ratchet and Clank game, and these battles are where some of the co-op features like bonus weapon damage can come in really useful. The four playable characters are Ratchet, Clank, Captain Quark and, bizarrely, R&C’s nemesis Doctor Nefarious, although the reason he’s come along to help is explained in the introductory cutscene. Each character has his own special abilities; Ratchet can deploy a decoy which distracts enemies and draws their fire for a limited time, Clank can throw a grenade which can slow down time, Quark has a reflective shield which can protect the other players, and Nefarious can activate a cloaking device to hide himself for a short while.

The story is helped along by cut-scenes, usually before the start of a level, but also fairly frequently throughout. The story is well told and easy enough to understand but not everything in the story may be as it seems. For those of you who’ve played previous games, there are some returning characters, aside from the playable characters, and for those people who’ve been playing Ratchet and Clank since the PS2 days, a familiar face makes an appearance, as he has in all previous games, helping out in a moment of need.

The game still features many of the components of a single player Ratchet and Clank game. Gold bolts from previous games are now known as “Hero Bolts”. They still function the same as Gold Bolts however, unlocking various character skins, such as my favourite the Snowman. The game still features a wide range of wacky weapons and tools, and encourages you to use teamwork to kill enemies, giving you bonus damage when multiple players are shooting an enemy with the same gun.

The familiar cartoon-style videos are back for the weapon Vendor, showing the four characters using the weapon, often in an amusing way. Once weapons are purchased there are three available upgrades for each; Ammo, Power and Elite. Elite can only be bought once the other two have been purchased and costs a lot, often more than the gun itself. This Elite upgrade is similar to upgrading your gun in older Ratchet and Clank games, giving the gun better stats.

All 4 One features one important new tool, the Vac-U, which is basically a vacuum gun, it allows you to suck crates towards you to break them, it can suck bolts towards you, it can suck one small enemy up which can then be fired out, and can suck a teammate up so that they can be fired across to an area that would have otherwise been impossible to reach, or just off clean the map if you’re feeling mean! Three other tools are also obtained during the game, the Quakehammer, the Glob Lobber, and the Reflector, whose names kind of give away what they do, the Quakehammer can smash rocks and is basically a pneumatic drill, the Glob Lobber throws lumps of Glob, and the Reflector blocks lasers functioning very much like a shield, but you can’t move while it’s being used.

Small critters can be found throughout the levels in each environment and can be sucked into the vacuum gun and collected. These are used to enter secret labs once a certain number have been obtained between the four of you, and you then have to use the vacuum gun and your other tools with various contraptions to help a critter to get to the end of the puzzle, through various pipe-like tunnels. Each completed puzzle gives you a reward of a weapon part (those of you familiar with the series can probably guess what it is but I won’t ruin it for the rest of you).

The game can be played both online and offline, though you’ll have considerably more fun playing online with others than offline by yourself. When playing in offline mode, you can have up to four players split-screen, and each player can choose his/her own character, but if you feel inclined to play on your own there will always be at least one AI-controlled character helping you.

Online is very similar to the offline, but obviously with real people rather than AI playing with you, and if you manage to get hooked up with players with headsets who like to communicate then so much the better. The online game supplies a lot of laughs, even when they're at your expense. You can either create a game or join an existing one. Creating a game allows you to choose the level to play, and to enable any cheats unlocked through previous play-throughs. Joining a game allows you to search for a game according to your choice of criteria, such as choice of location and players not currently in a game. If you try to connect to an existing game currently ‘in play’, it can take quite a while to join, and we experienced occasional lag during certain sections of gameplay, but this almost certainly depends on the quality of each player’s Broadband connection. Playing with other players introduces a much more competitive (or “co-opetitive”) element to the game, with your bolt score being tracked at the top right of the screen. At the end of each section bonus bolts are awarded to the player who collected the most bolts, killed the most enemies or got the most co-op points. These bonus bolts and stats are shown as a bar graph, and after all the bonuses have been awarded, the player with the most is crowned the winner of that section. Awards are also given to each player according to achievements in the last section, such as the “n00b” award for the person who died the most.

Overall Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a high-quality co-operative game, with lots of fun levels, and plenty of things to keep you coming back for more. It is most fun if you’re playing with friends, but can be less frustrating if playing by yourself. It is let down slightly by the sometimes stupid AI, the smaller than normal range of weapons and the frustrating checkpoint system. Despite these small downfalls Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a very enjoyable game. If you’re into co-op games, or a fan of Ratchet and Clank then this is a must buy.

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Best Bits

- Fairly long story mode.
- Beautiful environments.
- Wacky Weapons.
- Teamwork bonuses.
Worst Bits

- AI not very clever offline.
- Reminder about EULA every darned time you connect to an online game.
- Limited selection of weapons.
- Can take a while to get into an online game if you’re picky.

by: coolalien

Copyright © Gamecell 2011