Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (Available on PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Genre: Tower Defense
Release Date: November 27th, 2012
Parent Talk: Comic mischief and fantasy violence are the only warnings the ESRB give parents and for very good reason, the franchise has always been aimed at the T crowd and under, and this game is no exception. Full Frontal Assault is about as damaging as a Pixar movie.
Plays Like: In a bizarre turn of events this latest entry in the venerable R&C series plays very little like its predecessors and much more like a tower defense game you’d find on tablets and smartphones. All of the action takes place third-person, but instead of exploring, collecting unique weapons and taking on other-worldly bosses, you’re trying to keep your base secure while defeating the enemy base as waves of enemies rain down on you. It’s confined, linear and likely not what you expect.
Review Basis: Played through what little content was there.
Let’s get something out of the way right now. I want another disc-based fully featured Ratchet & Clank. I adore the series, but am starting to get annoyed by all these “experimental” games Insomniac has released over the past few years. Last year’s All 4 One wasn’t too bad, but I still found it annoying that it wasn’t a real R&C. Whatever happened to spending countless hours looking for that last gold bolt, or being floored by entering a new planet and being amazed by it’s sheer visual fluidity. The charm and magic of the core series is slowly disappearing thanks to what amounts to quick cash-ins on the popular IP. Full Frontal Assault is the worst culprit yet.
The online multiplayer is clearly where it’s at. Available in either co-op or competitive, players attempt to destroy the opposing teams generator nodes, while doing everything in their power to ensure at least one of their nodes survives. Players begin by taking control of as many nodes as possible, which grants weapons, and bolts over time. The objective is to use these bolts to enhance your defenses before the assault phase begins. It’s at this point where players have to determine whether they have enough defenses to leave their base and assault their opponent, or stay and guard it as waves of enemies attack. This was clearly how the game was envisioned and works relatively well if you’re playing with other players, sadly things fall apart if you aren’t as the gameplay structure changes.
+ Some of the best weapons in the series make a return, including Mr. Zurkon, and the Groovitron. The new weapons aren’t quite as memorable, although they’re never really put to the proper test.
+ Nice animations and improved visuals over All 4 One. The same witty voice actors also return to help make this feel like a true Ratchet and Clank.
+ The PS3 Blu-ray disc version includes the PS Vita version. Two for the price of one is always a plus in my book.
– Single-player is repetitive and short-lived, featuring only three distinct maps.
– While more bolts are generated over time, you never have enough to make proper defenses while in single-player. You spend the assault phase constantly babysitting your base, while your defenses should be doing the work for you. It becomes tiresome after a short period of time.
– Enemy waves are sporadic and seem to happen at the most inconvenient times, forcing you to race back to your base in order to protect it because of the shameful defenses.
– Ammo is scare, and weapon upgrades don’t help very much.
The franchise just celebrated its tenth year, and it deserved much better. Hopefully a true installment in the series isn’t too far off, because we all miss spending 20+ hours with these characters, not half an hour of frustration.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault isn’t a bad game if you play it with others, it’s just not the game players have been asking for. At only $20 it’s worth checking out if you know you have other players who can help you out. If you’re only going to be playing it alone, skip it.
Final Score: 5/10