Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Review
Before I got my hands on Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, I was concerned. I don’t know what my concerns were, exactly, but I knew something just deemed a bit off about it. I was worried that this game, with its co-op focus, wouldn’t feel like a real Ratchet & Clank game. Try as I might, I just couldn’t make myself get excited about this game.
I was right to be worried.
It’s not a bad game. On the contrary, if you load this bad boy up with a couple or three friends on the couch, you’re probably mostly going to have some fun. I don’t want to give too much credit to the game for that, though; there’s a fine line between a game being fun because it’s fun and the game being fun because you’re playing it with people you like. I’d say it’s most the latter than the former in this case.
All 4 One is the story of how Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Dr. nefarious are all kidnapped (accidentally? It’s never explained why they were nabbed) and marooned on the planet Magnus, where somebody is stealing all sorts of creatures from across the universe and sticking them there for some strange plot.
Our four heroes must then work together in order to survive, but they aren’t content with just surviving; they must get to the bottom of this plot and stop the bad guy from doing whatever it is he’s going to do. And it really does feel that vague as you play through it; the villain’s plans aren’t made clear until the very end, and even when you find out what it is you’re left wondering why it is we have to stop it. But whatever.
The story is told through cutscenes you can neither skip nor pause, and I consider that an unforgivable sin, especially when checkpoints take place right before a cutscene, and there are a few places where that happens. Seriously, though, at this point in history you have to let us pause or skip cutscenes somehow, and there’s not good excuse for letting use do neither in your game.
The entire game is playable in co-op, and it’s clear some sacrifices were made to make that happen. For one, there’s no sense of exploration in this game, because it’s entirely linear. Too, it all takes place on one planet and its moon, which is disappointing because I’d kind of gotten used to zooming around the universe looking for things. That sense of discovery that we expect from a Ratchet & Clank game is sadly missing here.
Also, it feels like Insomniac got a little lazy in some of its level designs; too often you’ll find yourself trapped in a small rectangle of space battling endless hordes of enemies. Many of these areas also feel geared toward playing with four players, because if you have only two or are playing by yourself, you’ll often find yourself running out of ammo with no way to defeat the remaining enemies. Most of these battles toe a fine line where you can just barely get through, but when you don’t know what you’re getting into in each area it’s easy to screw up and use all your ammo before it’s over.
Thankfully, you will have plenty of weapons to choose from, as you would expect of a Ratchet & Clank game. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be that one great weapon you’re just dying to use that blows your mind when you finally get it. For the most part I defaulted to the Combuster and just used whatever else I had at random when I ran out of ammo for that.
There are some, for lack of a better word, minigames in which you must navigate some sort of craft down a river or through an asteroid field, etc., and these are hellish, but in a good way. They’re hectic on screen and in your living room, but being a guy who loves yelling at people I had fun with this.
Also, there are a few great set pieces in the game. My favorite part has you and your friends riding on top of a giant robot across a massive crater, and you’re in control of some turrets, swatting enemies out of the sky. This is the game at its best, certainly.
Though this is a co-op game through and through, you can play it by yourself, and a lot of work clearly went into making that possible and not unpleasant. Your AI partner is as skilled as any I’ve ever seen in a game, and he never really gets in your way, although he did seem to wander off cliffs with alarming regularity. Then again, you’ll probably walk off cliffs plenty on your own, so it’s hard to call that s flaw in the programming. Still, props to Insomniac for creating an AI partner that seriously works well.
It’s hard for me to recommend All 4 One because, thanks to its lack of linear nature and constant arena battles, it doesn’t quite feel like a legit Ratchet & clank adventure. We have high expectations for this franchise after the last two amazing efforts on PS3, and this game just doesn’t really live up to that. Still, you could do worse. It’s just s shame that this didn’t turnout to be one of the premier hang-out-with-your-buddies games for the year, like LittleBigPlanet 2 and Portal 2.
- It is co-op
- Some good set pieces
- Great AI partner if you’re playing by yourself
- No exploration; perfectly linear
- Annoying arena battles.
- Can’t skip or pause cutscenes
- Missing that one great weapon
Final score: 75/100
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