Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Review

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-4
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: October 18, 2011

PSN: Online multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates All 4 One E10+, but I don’t see any harm in letting everyone try this game. It features cartoon violence, but so does Super Mario Bros. The big difference here is that you use various weapons to shoot creatures, but it’s presented in such a harmless way that I can’t imagine anyone finding A4O damaging.  Online play is a different beast entirely, where the game could be M for mature given all the cursing I heard.

Plays Like: Most 3D action platformers.  The Super Mario, Jak & Daxter, etc.

Review Basis: Played through the campaign with a buddy and a large portion of the game alone.

Ratchet & Clank have starred in some of the best PS2 and PS3 games.  While other developers left their bread and butter to design expensive, AAA, mature software, Insomniac has kept its dynamic duo alive and well.  With Tools of Destruction and A Crack in Time, the series felt as fresh as it ever has.  If you’re a fan of the action platforming genre, those two games are without equal.  Now Insomniac changed things up by creating a next-generation Ratchet & Clank zeroed in on cooperative multiplayer.  They’ve tried the opposite before with the competitive multiplayer Ratchet: Deadlocked, and the results were mixed.  Does All 4 One break the mold, while retaining what has made the series so much fun?  In short, the answer is a resounding YES!

The Great:

Online and offline co-op.  I could list hundreds of areas where All 4 One excels, but the co-op soars above everything else.  Insomniac created puzzles and action focused on four-player co-op that’s scalable down to two players.  Not only did they succeed in doing this, they’ve proven this formula should have been executed a long time ago. From ingenious puzzles to imaginative boss battles, players have no choice but to work together, and in doing so play one of the finest action platformers of the generation.

The Good:

+ Ratchet, Clank, Captain…er, President Quark, and Dr. Nefarious united against a common enemy.  How can that be?  Hasn’t Nefarious tried to kill everyone multiple times already?  This crazy scenario leads to hundreds of laugh-out-loud moments.  The constant jabs at each other’s expense are priceless.  As always Insomniac knows how to make people laugh.

+ Seamless online/offline gameplay.  You can grab a buddy or three offline, and then the rest online for all-out chaos.  Any time players can drop in or out, making All 4 One a seamless experience.  This is how you do online co-op.

+ Same great gameplay.  You know the drill: collect weapons, power them up and destroy everything in your path.  Paired with the excellent shooter mechanics are fun and imaginative platforming sections.  Combined, All 4 One is a blast to play.  Did you expect anything else from Insomniac?

+ Weapons are as varied and fun as ever.  Old classics return, and are joined by creative new ones to round out the package.  Upgrading is handled a little differently this time, forcing you to use bolts to purchase new upgrades instead of merely using the weapons to level them up. This works well with the co-op focus.

+ Puzzles put the p in…oh never mind.  The puzzles are intuitive and require players to put their heads together.  Once you’ve experienced all All 4 One has to offer, you may question why more games don’t emphasize cooperative multiplayer as much as competitive.

+ Wonderful presentation.  The audio is as impressive as ever, but the visuals were understandably sacrificed for the benefit of smooth cooperative play. Still, the art is just stunning, so the series remains pleasing.

The Bad:

– Repetitive yammering. While I love the characters’ interactions, they eventually repeat themselves a lot. If Insomniac could’ve somehow prevented this, it would’ve improved the experience.

– Bizarre AI glitches.  If you play offline, your AI-controlled compatriot(s) don’t always behave as needed. For the most part this isn’t the case, but it happens and can be quite frustrating.

The Ugly:

A problematic camera. Because there’s no splitscreen and players are restricted in their movements, the camera is zoomed out so all four players remain within a confined area.  This isn’t Smash Bros., and the camera tends to hurt things.

The Lowdown:

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One suffers from a fixed camera, but the humor, fantastic weapons and awesome platforming/puzzles make this a Ratchet that everyone who enjoys these types of games should purchase.  I hadn’t had this much fun online in some time.  Awesome!

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: Best co-op on the PS3.  Imaginative puzzles and superb gameplay.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you go alone, there might not be enough to keep you satisfied, and the camera doesn’t help.

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