If you’ve played on a PlayStation system since the PS2 era, you’ve probably heard of the Ratchet & Clank series. They’ve had a number of titles out over the course of the PS2 and the PS3. They are some of the characters that would come closest to mascots of the PlayStation. I’ve played most of the games, and today I’ll be looking at Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One.
The story isn’t all that different in basic structure from other Ratchet and Clank adventure. The game starts with Ratchet and Clank escorting Captain (err… President) Quark to an awards ceremony. The ceremony turns out to be a trap laid by Dr. Nefarious, but the trap backfires and all four are caught up in the trap. Upon getting out of the trap all four characters are caught by someone collecting powerful alien life forms across the galaxy.
This predicament requires all four characters, despite their former antagonism, to work together, figure out how to get home, who captured them, and maybe even save a planet or universe in the process.
The Ratchet and Clank games have all been action based 3D platforming games and All 4 One does not change that. The bulk of the game will be about running, jumping, and using gadgets to get through the level while blasting any enemies that get in your way.
The most significant difference between All 4 One and other Ratchet & Clank game is that All 4 One focuses on being a co-op game above all else. The majority of the other games in the series have been single player experiences, but All 4 One allows for up to four players to fill the shoes of Ratchet, Clank, President Quark, and Dr. Nefarious. Even if you play alone the computer will play as a second character for areas where you need another player to proceed.
While this does change a little of the Ratchet and Clank formula, it doesn’t change that much. You still get cool weapons that you get to level up and cause lots of damage with. Only with the co-op you get a damage bonus if you’re both using the same weapon on the same enemies. Also certain gadgets will require both characters in order to solve certain puzzles in order to proceed.
Other stalwarts of the Ratchet and Clank series also make an appearance. The regular bolts as currency that allows you to buy weapons and weapon upgrades. There are large collectible bolts that are color coded for each of the characters you play. These unlock different costumes for the characters. You will also discover critters that you can suck up with one of your new gadgets. Critters allow you to unlock test chambers. The test chambers are tests that upon completion will unlock a part of the RYNO VI, which in this iteration is a giant robotic armor.
The obvious theme throughout the game is teamwork. You can find this theme both in the story of the game and in the game play. Teamwork has really always been a part of the Ratchet and Clank games, focused largely on the teamwork between Ratchet and Clank. All 4 One expands on that a bit added the need to work with the sometimes villain, sometimes hero, but constantly bumbling Captain Quark and the super villain Dr. Nefarious. This adds a different layer to the teamwork theme, as it is not just friends working together, but friends and enemies who have to put aside past animosity and work together.
Teamwork is also evident in the gameplay. The game is much easier when you work together well with those you play with. While not a particularly hard game, working together and communicating well will make the game easier and more fun.
Other than teamwork, there aren’t any other major themes that I remember. It’s a fairly lighthearted game, with a few exceptions, built around the ideas of saving the world and battling villains.
- Personal Favorites – I’ll be honest, Ratchet and Clank are probably my favorite mascot duo from the PS2 era. I’ve always enjoyed the banter between the two characters, the gameplay, and the varied and unique weapons. This game is more of that even with the different gameplay elements.
- Intergalactic Humor Award- Ratchet & Clank games have always had a decent amount of humor and this game continues in that vein. I’ve always enjoyed the humor and this game provides more of the same.
- Fun with Friends – The co-op is fairly well done and was enjoyable to play with other players. While I do think there were some things that detracted from the choice to go co-op, as a co-op experience it was a lot of fun.
- Paper Weapons – While the weapons came in a fun variety of styles for this game, I felt that many of them lacked the power of previous installments. I wondered in part if this was due to the co-op focus. It seemed that the weapons on their own were not as powerful due to the need to use them in tandem with your co-op partners. I could be wrong, but that is how it seemed to me.
- Weaponized Clank – While Clank has punched and smacked people with a staff in previous games, I don’t remember him ever packing heat too often. If he had the ability to use Ratchet’s weapons all this time, why is he just now getting in on it?
- Willing to Try Something New – While I have mixed feelings on the turn to co-op, I have to say that it’s nice to see them try something new. Not that I’m particularly thinking they needed to mix things up, but still instead of following the formula they were trying to branch out in different directions which can be a good thing.
- Doesn’t Quite Live Up to Previous Titles – While I enjoy Ratchet & Clank and even enjoyed this game, it still wasn’t quite as good as most of the other games in the series. It reminds be a bit of Deadlocked in the PS2 era. A good game that simply isn’t as good compared to previous installments.
I enjoyed Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. While it had its flaws, my family had a lot of fun playing it together. While it was not a game I could recommend at a full retail price of $60, at its current price (which is around $20 as of writing) I would. It is a very competent co-op platformer. The main downside is that it isn’t as good compared to previous installments. It doesn’t make this a bad game, it may just leave you wanting a bit more than you received.