Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Ratchet is back with his friends and foes to help defeat...no, wait for it, not Dr. Nefarious, but Commando Spargan. In development for three years, Insomniac games brings us another title in the Ratchet & Clank franchise. The events take place after Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time. Rather than fighting Dr. Nefarious, they team up, along with him and Captain Qwark, to undo Nefarious' plan to destroy them, which goes awry. Will they be able to work together as a team, or become their worst enemies again?
Ratchet, a Lombax from Fastoon, is a spontaneous mechanic who is out to protect the universe, with a special wrench as his trusty weapon. By his side, has been a small robot named Clank. Clank offers his knowledge and his use of many attachments to help Ratchet in his ventures.
When one thinks of a large ego, any fan of the series would automatically think of Captain Qwark, who is another player in this four-player co-op game. Qwark is the egocentric, and now, president of the galaxy. He sometimes gets the hunch that Doctor Nefarious is planning to assassinate them.
Doctor Nefarious is Ratchet's antagonist and wants to turn all enemies into robots, like himself. He plots to defeat them, but when the entire plan is interrupted by a more sinister plan, he finds himself side-by-side with his enemies and is forced to work with them, rather than against them.
The four players, who all dislike each other (all but Ratchet and Clank themselves) are forced to work together since they have been captured by Athimerus the Creature Collector. Stranded on a planet called Magnus, the four are set to fight Commando Spargan. Not only are they fighting together, but they are also fighting amongst each other, as they try to defeat the enemies of this unknown planet.
All 4 One is brought to life with cinematic visuals. The characters and the environment are intricately crafted to provide the player with a unique experience, while also offering quite a bit of eye candy.
If one has ever wondered what it was like to play a game that felt as though they were controlling a character inside a cartoon, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One offers that feeling. No one does that better than Insomniac Games. They create this cartoon character look flawlessly. The player will see that a lot of creativity was put into the development of the stages of this planet and its enemies.
Another welcomed artistic feature is when you are presented with new weapons to purchase. The graphics then take on a comic book appearance. It's a pleasant compliment to the infomercial-type section, created by GrummelNet (the weapon vendor of Polaris Galaxy), that offers you the details and specs of the new weapons.
The game also features full stereoscopic 3D functionality. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is well-formed and quite stunning, however the game's feel is greatly intensified when played in 3D. When you are sliding down curvy pipes, and jumping over fire, you can see the depth perception of the objects coming up. If you happen to slip up on your jump, you catch on fire. This slight action viewed in 3D is unbelievably concentrated that it makes your jaw drop. The mere act of riding the rail alone, looks incredible, along with many other scenes and levels.
The sound effects work well with the weapons that they have created, like the sound of the Warmonger rocket launcher, or the Pyroblaster. When the player activates Mr. Zurkon, he says, "Yoo hoo! Mr. Zurkon is looking to kill you," along with other phrases, as he assists his user by shooting the enemies.
The game has pleasant adventure background music. It sets the mood that you are going to have one heck of an adventure. However, the strong feature of the game are the character's witty or funny comments. The same voice actors for the main characters are back in All 4 One. When you hear each individual character's charisma and comical commentary, you will find yourself bursting out laughing. Nefarious and Qwark were amusing to listen to as Qwark is inadvertent to Nefarious' constant criticism.
I absolutely love the music that plays when the player is offered a new weapon to purchase. It makes the item, that much more alluring with the excitement the music creates.
All 4 One allows a player to play alone or with his/her friends and/or family, whether they are sitting right next to them, or playing from the comfort of their own home, over PlayStation Network. Working together is key, while playing with other players. While innovating some great new ideas into the title, there was so much more that could have been elaborated on. The pipes that you ride on were brought back in. It would have been more of an experience to have intertwining pipes that maybe the player has to choose his path wisely, to get to the end, or even have where each player has to go down separate pipes to reach their destination, in a more adventurous way. The pipes are always a great experience in Ratchet & Clank titles, that I would've loved to see more of. Another new and interesting part was the inclusion of a type of electro-sphere where the players turn into a metallic ball that conducts electricity, when between two electrical towers. All four characters must position themselves to line up perfectly between two electrical towers. It is important that they are spaced out accurately for the electricity to flow throw them from one tower to the other. The introduction of these spheres was quite enjoyable. This is another gadget that I would've loved to see more of. There is a giant robot that comes to aide the player. A more diverse offering would be to allow the player to use him more, as he is a character that can easily gain adoration from the player. Maybe even allow Clank and Nefarious to team up to fix a robot that was injured in battle, to allow the four to hop on and take control of them. It would be interesting and quite testing to have each player controlling various functionalities of the robot, like walking, shooting, turning, and so on. The player, whether a fan of the series or a new-comer, will definitely have a lot of fun with the various inclusions in the game.
The character controls provide an ease of use. The characters are given a double-jump feature and are initially equipped with a type of boomerang-type weapon, until more weapons are introduced as the game continues to unfold. During boss battles, or hectic times in the game, it can sometimes be difficult to select your weapon of choice. The weapons are selected by rotating the right analog (and sometimes hitting the right bumper, when the first section is full of weapons) to make your selection. The game can be halted while players select their weapons, however all players must be in the selection mode for this to occur.
For those who played previous games in the Ratchet & Clank series, they will miss the feature that allows the player to upgrade each weapon through usage. All 4 One offers upgrades through purchase, with the in-game currency (bolts collected when smashing boxes and defeating enemies).
While playing alone, the game was very fun. Two to three players was even more enjoyable. Adding four can get a little hectic, as it seems more difficult to keep track of your player in the chaos. When a boss is killed, the animation will slow down to give a dramatic feeling, that will offer the player more of a gratification for a job well-down.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One will have the player wanting to take the experience online with different friends. The game does require the redemption of a Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Online Pass to access online features. This is a setback for households with more than one player. As I played with my husband and two of my sons, I was the only one that had an Online Pass. This created a problem, since the other players were not allowed to sign in to obtain the same Trophies I was receiving.
Since there are four playable characters, it is fun to go in and give the other characters a try. The title offers a large variety of weapons for the player to take out their opponents. Since the weapons can be upgraded with the bolts that the player collected, I found myself wanting to go back and play the game with different upgraded weapons. This changes the experience up, since each weapon performs differently. My favorite weapon was the Critter Strike. It transforms enemies into pigs, who then in turn, assist you with any other enemies you were fighting around them. I tended to set a personal goal for myself to try to max out all the weapons, which provided many hours of replay value.
While playing alone, the game was very fun. Two to three players was even more of an enjoyable experience. Adding four can get a little hectic, as it seems more difficult to keep track of your player in the chaos. The lasso allows players to keep together and the vacuum gun, Vac-U, lets one player shoot another to a far platform, for those that are too far to jump.
The drop in and drop out feature while playing with friends, will allow you to continue the game, without interruption. I played with my husband and my sons. It is definitely one that can be played and enjoyed by gamers of all ages. My youngest son is five and he was able to get the hang of the game with no problems. The cinematic visuals and humorous characters will offer hours of fun for a single player, a family, or a group of friends. If you are looking for the perfect game to take your family on an amazing adventure or bring life to a party, then this is the perfect title.