Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is the newest entry in the Ratchet & Clank franchise. Most of the over the top baddie blasting platform action is back. Best of all, 4 players can join in for co-op blasting goodness.
Ratchet & Clank + Multiplayer = Awesome
My kids, wife, and I have enjoyed Ratchet & Clank since the first times we laid eyes on them. For us, Ratchet & Clank is to the PlayStation what Mario and Luigi are to the Nintendo. Finally, we can all enjoy the great platforming experience together. Ratchet & Clank has great potential as a multiplayer game. At the very least, it is not a kart racer.
Big Booms Sound Good on Big Speakers
For me, the biggest excitement in R&C came from ganging up on the bigger enemies. When players focus their fire on a single enemy, they get a damage multiplier and a meter on the enemy begins to fill. When it gets to a certain point, the enemy blows up. If you have a proper sound system, the KABOOM! is fantastic. While it was the same boom every time, it never got old to me.
The Ratchet & Clank series has always been one of the most aesthetically pleasing games on the PlayStation consoles. The environments are vibrantly colored, there are all kinds of objects to look at, the character skins and movements are great, and the explosions are absolutely wonderful. This latest entry does not disappoint in the visuals department and reminds us all why high definition and 3D were simply meant to be.
Can we fix the interface next time around?
Insomniac Games has come up with a very intuitive system for selecting weapons in the Ratchet & Clank and Resistance series. Unfortunately, it fell apart in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. The player selects weapons and gadgets from a wheel that comes up when the player presses the right analog stick. There are a few different wheels to select from, which can be sorted through by pressing L1 and R1. Pretty straight-forward in theory. When you are playing though, your finger is likely on the R1 button when you bring up the weapon wheel. This can lead to you selecting a different weapon than you intended. Add the frustration of having the game pause when multiple people open the wheel at the same time and you constantly have the wrong weapon selected. I tried to use the hot-key system, but then I found that I was constantly trying to swap things in and out of my four hot-key slots. If it is too much of a pain, it should not be.
As far as innovation goes, All 4 One is a step backwards in the R&C franchise. Multiplayer is great, but why does it have to be at the expense of great gameplay? The platforming has been oversimplified for this entry; perhaps to make it easier for multiple characters at one time. At the same time, the arsenal is less fun than it has been in previous games. Where is the Groovitron? Why isn't Mr. Zurkon that great of a weapon anymore? The lack of more or new makes this game seem as if it would more appropriately fit in with the oldest entries in the franchise.
I Want Six-Axis Control
I miss six-axis control. Since the beginning of PlayStation 3, the six-axis has gotten a bad reputation. Now that The Move is out, the six-axis is long forgotten. Our controllers still have the functionality though and Ratchet & Clank was one of the few series to put the functionality to good use. With a little bit of creative thought, we could go back to having segments where the heroes are controlled with six-axis movements instead of directional buttons. Sure, it can take a little getting used to, but cleverly placed six-axis control segments adds to the level of immersion in the game.
Wait a second.....this isn't a Ratchet & Clank game!?
When the first announcements for R&C: All 4 One came, I wondered to myself, "Why isn't 'Future' in the title?" When we started playing the game, the answer became immediately obvious. All 4 One is not here for the story. It does not bother to follow the Ratchet & Clank storyline at all; nor does it attempt to make excuses for it. At times, I wondered if this were truly a Ratchet & Clank game or just another top-down shooter with Ratchet & Clank character models dropped in.
PS3 Multiplayer Done Wrong
Game publishers should look to how local multiplayer is implemented in the Little Big Planet games in order to gain a good idea on how to do it right. Most often, when I am playing a multiplayer game in my house, I am playing with my kids whom also have their own profiles on the PlayStation. All of the bonuses we earn for playing together on my profile should also be reflected in their profiles. To be fair, Little Big Planet is pretty much the only game I know of to do this. I understand that implementation of a design could get sticky; but really, we could work a system to allow character progression in the particular player's profile.
Did it Save?
Especially when just starting to play R&C: All 4 One, it is not obvious when exactly the saving is taking place. After a while, you learn it is after points are counted, but even so, there were times that it seemed like we played the same area over and over again because the game simply did not save. We can fix this easily, but nobody seems too concerned. The text "SAVING" with the icon would be a lifesaver for the fans, but instead we insist on having an icon that looks similar to every other icon that appears in that exact location on screen. Is it saving now? Oh, no, that was the stupid loading icon again.
For a four player game, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is great fun. Anybody that has played the other R&C games will love to have a shot on the co-op. Unfortunately, fans looking for some new weapons and gadgets and some innovating platforming will have to keep waiting.