The lights are on
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One came out a few months back. While I go through the game, I just wanted to touch on some aspects of the adventure.
Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious all got snatched up after a botched evil plan, and after an improvised escape from their holding vessel, with the aid of a new character named Susie, they all land on a planet where their sacred creatures have all been pilfered, and at the risk of crumbling. Ratchet, Qwark and Nefarious are reluctant to help at first (for different reasons), but after Ratchet learns about what happened, Nefarious is convinced by Clank, and Qwark realizes being a hero could help his PR, they're all on board for another grand adventure. Cartoon logic aside, the three unwanting heros seemed to be swayed in a rather swift and unconvincing fashion (All three changed their minds after hearing merely one line of dialogue each.) Regardless, this is the springboard (and the characters' sole motivation) for the rest of the game.
This is actually two firsts for the Ratchet and Clank series. For one, this is the first Ratchet game to be made by Insomniac's new North Carolina studio (They still go by the basic "Insomniac" moniker, but know that the people making this game are only half-comprised of the older Ratchet games' members). Secondly, this is the first multiplayer-focused Ratchet and Clank (There was multiplayer in Ratchet: Deadlocked, but it wasn't a main focus, especially considering the limited user base it reached back on the pre-universal-PSN era).
Despite the firsts, the game manages to retain all of the Ratchet and Clank staples: well-designed and inventive weaponry, a simplistic shooting system, colorful environments, and a well-explained and comical storyline. it seems that nothing that Insomniac have built their name on has been ruined, sacrificed, or forgotten.
The issues mostly arrive from the new gameplay mechanics. The game supports up to four characters to play, cooperate, and compete (somewhat) throughout the entire game. Unfortunately, firefights involving very explosive weaponry can easily become a clusterfuck. In the old Ratchets, your character was outlined with a silhouette, which made him easier to identify. With four characters, all in different locations, this remedy is no longer sufficient, and I believe it isn't even used, taking a further step back. And with the environment having such a varied color palette applied to it, using the backdrop as a difference isn't even a possible option. And since time no longer pauses during weapon switching, it's not too smart to change out your gun during these times, and the small view three-weapon wheel system controlled by the right analog stick isn't helping too much. Death still isn't common, due to a very lenient respawn system, but since any big firefight will simply result in two minutes of explosions before continuing, even the most grave of boss fights and encounters lack weight. So you can be sure almost anything involving a gun will become a sightseeing tour rather than a pitched battle of epic proportions.
The platforming segments feel roughly the same way, but with four players, a camera trying to accomodate everybody, and a tethering method to rescue players who fell from a ledge, there wasn't much else it could turn into. Frankly, during some moments, the camera's panning, rotating, and zooming all to give the players a good view of the scenery. And without the explosions all around, yes, it looks quite wonderful.
There are a slew of multiplayer elements in the game, both cooperative and competitive. Most of them are simply moments in the category of "Stop here while your friends catch up" gateways that merely set everyone at a roughly even position before continuing. There are also plenty of times where there's a small prize only achievable by a duo or more. While both of these aren't serious annoyances, they're also not serious additions either. Not to say this is all the cooperative field has to offer. There are a few parts where the gameplay switches completely to something new, and the cooperation of everyone is required for progression, such as every member controlling a separate engine on a four-directional raft, or collectively moving to create the necessary wind resistance to float up an air shaft, and a few more activities that'll surprise along the way. The main draw of the multiplayer aspect is in the semi-competitive mechanics. Guns, upgrade, and just plain bragging rights are all earned by gaining more bolts, creatures, and enemy destructions than your allies. And considering how awesome the guns are in this game, it's often tempting to grab soem bolts before your allies with the very same intentions. This is genuinely the main draw of the game, and it feels like a challenge compared to the easy street that is the regular game's progression. While playing through the game alone with an AI partner is possible, and still an enjoyable experience, causing mayhem while underhandedly taking rewards from your so-called friends adds an extra layer of fun to the whole game.
After everything, this is a good game, but it's not breaking the mold in any way. Great for a family, great for a decent way to pass two hours, great for people who can't get enough lombax-and-snarky-robot in their lives, not much else.
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