Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.

Ratchet and Clank has saved the universe for the last time.  They have decided to finally hang up their Combusters and let President Qwark take up the task of being a hero in favor of retirement.  However, Dr. Nefarious has other plans.  Qwark has been selected to receive the Intergalactic Tool Award and brings Ratchet and Clank to the ceremony.  Unbeknownst to our heroes, the ceremony is actually a trap!

Dr. Nefarious’ faithful henchman, Lawrence, unleashes a gigantic Z’Grute from cryo-stasis.  Upon being freed, it immediately turns on Nefarious, absorbing the energy from his vehicle and forcing him to join sides with Ratchet and Clank to take it down.  However, this is only the beginning; as the unlikely allies finally subdue the creature, a gigantic probe appears over the city of Luminopolis and captures Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Nefarious.  Could someone or something out there be more nefarious than Nefarious!?

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a 3D platformer and the tenth game in the Ratchet and Clank series.  It takes place after the highly acclaimed Future Trilogy, yet it is a departure from the series in that it’s a game that focuses heavily on co-operative play.  Many of the puzzles and obstacles that you encounter require multiple characters to work together in order to progress through the many levels of play.  Up to three of your friends can join you locally or across the PSN as Clank, Qwark, or Dr. Nefarious, and are able to drop in and out at will.

Don’t be fooled, however.  The game does support single player functionality, with Clank acting as your AI partner.  I was actually quite amazed at how well Clank’s AI reacts in the game, whether it’s in a fight against enemies or triggering switches to help you across environmental obstacles..  While to the watchful eye you can see that these are scripted events, they flow so well that it very much feels as though one of your own friends is right next to you controlling Clank’s actions.  Adding to the depth of the AI character is the dialogue that takes place in the game as you move along.  As you quickly dispatch a group of evil robots, Clank will give you a nod of approval while telling you, “Not too bad, for a carbon-based life form!”

Dialogue is a huge part of Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One.  The voice acting is of the highest grade, with a voice cast of well known veterans.  David Kaye (Arkham City – Commissioner Gordon/Ghost in the Shell SAC – Batou) reprises his role of Clank, with James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: Clone Wars – Obi Wan Kenobi/Syphon Filter – Gabe Logan) returning as Ratchet, and Jim Ward and Armin Shimerman back as Qwark and Dr. Nefarious respectively.  The cutscenes aren’t too cumbersome, with the script doing a great job of moving the story along, while providing tons of laughs.  Also, the in-game dialogue keeps the gameplay from feeling too mechanical and dry.  The superb writing makes All 4 One a game that’s entertaining for adults and kids alike, with humorous references that are too obscure for a child to fully comprehend (which in some cases is a good thing), while still entertaining them.

Graphically, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is absolutely gorgeous.  Although I think it could have only benefitted from some 1080p love, the 720p world you have to explore is simply stunning.  Bright colors and lush environments are abound throughout the game, with even some of the most melancholic environments having a touch of pink, blue, and purple so as not to seem too cold and lifeless.  The enemies are gigantic in scale compared to our quirky heroes, with entire levels dedicated to chase them down, or to escape from their grasp as they take after you.  The unique look of the world and its inhabitants only further adds to the sense of wonderment and adventure.

While Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is entertaining, it isn’t without a few oddities of its own in regards to gameplay.  From an adult perspective, the control scheme is relatively easy to learn and works exceptionally well; however, for a child under the age of about ten, the controls are very complicated and cumbersome.  This seems to go against the art styles and story which appears to be directed more for our little gamers.  However, with co-operative play being available, it’s entirely possible that the game was developed with the intention of parents playing the game with their little ones.

The weapon selection wheel is a little clumsy as well.  The icons are small enough that they could have put all of the weapons and utilities on the same page.  Unfortunately they didn’t, instead electing to put them on different pages, making you flip back and forth as needed.  This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t need to do just that.  Many levels require you to pull out a utility – for example the jackhammer (or as they call it in All 4 One, the Quake Hammer)is required throughout most of the level in order to progress, usually with enemies in the immediate area afterward.  This means you need to constantly hit the inventory circle, page over, select the item needed, and then switch back again.  As you can imagine, this gets to be quite frustrating after a time.

Another quirk that I noted was with the online play.  If you’re very early in the game locally, and decide to pick up an online game for the heck of it, you’ll sometimes find yourself thrown into a later level.  This isn’t a problem so much as you will now see in your level selection list all of the levels from where you left off locally, to what you played online and everything in between.  The problem lies in the fact that there’s no indicator of what levels you have played, so you won’t necessarily know easily where you left off in your offline campaign.  While this doesn’t really break the game, it is an eyebrow raiser, so I’d recommend leaving the online play alone until you’ve completed the campaign by yourself to avoid spoilers.

With that aside however, the gameplay is pretty tight and responsive.  The auto-targeting feature works excellently as it intuitively picks out the closest or best line-of -sight enemy to home in on.  This allows you to concentrate on having fun instead of running around like the Mad Hatter trying to get a lock on a specific target.  Moreover, when you and your cohorts target the same enemy, you receive an incrementing attack bonus, which is indicated by a growing circle starting from the reticule and working its way outward while your weapons begin firing faster.  This culminates in a Matrix/Bullet-time-like explosion ending either with the demise of the poor sorry soul you just doomed to the burnie place, or starts all over again if the enemy is strong enough.

For the completionist, there is a veritable treasure trove of things to do and collect to upgrade your weapons, or work for the holy grail of the game, the RYNO VI Protosuit!  As you progress through the game, you’ll come across platforms with an icon of a creature and a number indicating how many creatures you need to capture in order to enter Dr. Croid’s series of secret labs.  In these labs you’ll have to guide a creature through a maze on the wall opposite from you by using a series of switches.  When the creature makes it to the finish, you are awarded with a piece of the RYNO IV Protosuit.  Once you have assembled all six pieces, this lovely suit of mass destruction can be yours!

Along with the protosuit, there are also skill points which are earned by performing particular tasks in the game.  These range from taking out a certain number of enemies with a specific weapon, to throwing your buddy Clank into an incinerator.  Hero Bolts are scattered throughout the levels as well.  These earn you unlockables (such as alternate skins for your heroes) or will unlock special features such as concept art or behind-the-scenes clips.  It’s also nice to be able to go back and view all of the cinematics again as they become available for you as you complete each area.

In the end, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is an absolute thrill ride of non-stop action, lighthearted humor, and a ton of replayability either online or offline.  It’s also a great excuse to sit down with the kids for a couple of hours and get some quality time together.  Younger kids may have a harder time with the controls, but they’ll enjoy the characters and story nonetheless.  If you’re looking for a game to enjoy on your own or with the whole family, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One should definitely be at the top of the list.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One receives a 4.25/5.0

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

October 30, 2011 - 10:40 am