Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One PlayStation 3
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Insomniac Games
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a Ratchet & Clank game that's best experienced when played with three friends either locally or online. The series has always been known for its highly enjoyable single-player experiences and its fairly enjoyable multiplayer options, so the shift in focus here is a little strange, but that's not to say the end result isn't a satisfying one. There are some significant changes in All 4 One however and not all of them are for the best.
Quark is now president and in an odd twist of events Dr Nefarious is now on your side. Nefarious attempts to remove Quark by unleashing a Z'Grute but when the monster is unleashed Nefarious becomes the hunted and not the hunter. To make matter worse, all four of them are later taken prisoner. In a nutshell the game's storyline is bizarre but what else would expect from a Ratchet & Clank game? You have a choice of either playing as Ratchet, Clank, Dr Nefarious or Quark. It doesn't really matter who you choose to play as however as all of them play in exactly the same way and have access to all of the same weapons and upgrades, which is rather disappointing.
All 4 One offers a mix of melee and ranged combat (and as usual there's an impressive range of weapons here) along with rail-grinding and the occasional control of various vehicles throw in for good measure. You'll even get the use of a jetpack during the game and this is certainly one of the more enjoyable sections to be found here. The weapons don't automatically upgrade the more you use them however and all upgrades have to be purchased when they are available. There are still bolts to be collected here of course and as you would expect, you'll need these to fund weapon purchases and upgrades.
As a multiplayer experience All 4 One has been well designed. Players can drop in or out as they wish and the game will continue regardless. The stronger enemies require players to fire on them simultaneously because the individual firepower is usually insufficient (it's a shame you can't select which target you're auto-aiming at however). There are various puzzles in the game which require players to work together and the boss fights also require that you all pull in the same direction, if you're to be successful. There is a problem with the bolt collecting however. The one who finds them keeps them. As a result it's only those who find the bolts who will be able to afford to improve their weapons. This is OK of course providing each player shares the responsibility of eliminating the enemies and collecting the bolts, otherwise it will seem completely unfair and encourage the more devious players to simply collect the bolts.
Whilst the game has been primarily designed as a 2-4 player co-operative experience, it can be played as a single-player game. Solo players will find themselves accompanied by an AI companion. In truth it's not one of the better games in the series when viewed from a single-player's perspective. The AI companion does little to actually assist you and is more of a source of annoyance than anything else. It would have been better if the levels had been reworked to accommodate a Solo player in the event you have no one to accompany you rather than suffer an AI companion.
Visually there can be no denying that All 4 One represents a step back for the series. Character models aren't so impressive here as in previous games in the series on the PlayStation 3. The fixed camera angle makes sense of course but the poorer viewing distance it offers can be annoying. This would be a serious problem if it were not for the fact that you automatically lock-on to your enemies meaning that it's not much of a problem to hit enemies you can't see clearly. It's also annoying that there's no accommodation for allowing players to wander off-screen. The latest LEGO games dynamically split the screen to give each player more freedom and it's disappointing that All 4 One doesn't do something similar.
All 4 One is subtitled, although by default the subtitles are disabled. The opening cut scene, when you first load the game and it begins to go through the lengthy install procedure, isn't subtitled. Thankfully you can view this cut scene again, once the subtitles have been enabled, from the cinematics section in the extras menu. The main dialogue in the game is subtitled, so you'll be able to follow the cut scene dialogue and the important comments made during the main game. Unfortunately there are a lot of comments that aren't subtitled however. The comments your characters made during the main game are not subtitled and you'll miss out on a fair amount of their dialogue. Tutorial messages are shown in text and you can view text objectives from the pause menu that appears when you press the start button. You're also visually notified when objectives have been completed. In short it's a decent, if not ideal, experience for deaf gamers.
The focus on co-op play makes a pleasant change for the Ratchet & Clank series but it's a shame that, in some respects, the Ratchet & Clank experience has been diluted a little. Whilst it's great that you can play as one of four characters, there's not much point to it when all of the characters are essentially the same in regards to the abilities they have and how they play. At least there is fun to be had with All 4 One as a multiplayer experience and it helps that the game manages to retain its usual charming humour. As a single-player experience however it's tough to recommend and significantly below par for the series. If you are going to be playing the game with friends, online or locally, it's still an enjoyable experience, despite some of its shortcomings, but it's certainly not up to the standard of the previous games in the series on the PlayStation 3.