If you think reading is for chumps check out the video review https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtraR99bzek
Ratchet and Clank All 4 One come to us from Insomniac Games’ North Carolina studio. Not the one in Burbank who are really the only people outside of High Impact Games who have actually made a good Ratchet game. So North Carolina’s studio really has no one coming from Burbank expect the writer TJ Fixman so let’s just hope that the team did a good job.
In terms of gameplay the Ratchet and Clank Future series was divided up like this 60% combat 25% platforming 5% clever mini games and 10% puzzle solving. But All 4 One is 80% combat 13% fun but drawn out co-op gimmicks 5% platforming 2% optional puzzle solving. This obvious focus on combat wouldn’t be bad if they hadn’t stuffed up the gun play and the entire control system. So the circle button is now a fancy vacuum that allows you to suck up bolts, critters, energy balls and your companions. So the entire thing now turns into a half grieving device and an actual useful tool. Triangle is now also mapped to a proprietary gadget the trusty swingshot. The right analogue stick now is the gun wheel that is now a tiny circle around your character. And now the elephant in the room that the right stick is now being used for something other than your camera control and now the entire game is basically on-rails. From time to time there is a very rare occasion that the game lets the leash loose for a little while and while you collect your bolts the game tugs you along and says c’mon we’ve got credits to roll. It’s also annoying since the game features a lock-on mechanic which is tighter than your mum’s panties, which really doesn’t prove a major problem in single player since the AI will use the same gun and lock onto the same thing as you do like the good little compatriot dog as they are. But in multiplayer this can prove a big issue since you’re trying to target something but game is so stubborn it won’t let you shoot there. There is also no nanotech leveling system so gunplay gets sometimes dull and not engaging unless you’ve recently purchased a new toy from the Grummel- Net Vendor. There is some good here though the Dr Croid Labs have a good amount of puzzle solving and platforming. This game should be looked at on its own but the combat sequences do drag on a bit.
All 4 One also uses competitive mini games like how can turn the right stick faster to award you co-op points. Larger ‘Hero Bolts’ can be collected to unlock new costumes. The standout for me was definitely the platforming and the occasional grind-rail segment. The gameplay is a flawed beast and although my complaints obviously far outweigh the positives it still as a decent foundation that saves the gameplay from being an abomination.
The art style has taken a shift from the slightly cell shaded but realistic look of the future series for a very stylized especially on our four main characters. Ratchet head, ears, feet, hands and eyes has been up sized twice over and there is no longer any of that lovely fur detail. Clank has had a similar treatment with facial features, head, hands and feet all being up sized but a striking feature is when you compare Clank to his fellow adventurers he had a massive growth spurt because Clank instead of being 2ft to Ratchet’s 5ft Clank is now up to Ratchet’s nose. Nefarious is now obviously started putting his finger down his throat because he now looks like a model working for Ralph Lauren. With only his head being the size of his normal self. Qwark has been relatively unchanged other than the shine on his suit which now makes him look bland. Qwark has also been put in a shrink ray because he still looks solid and everything but his 10ft figure now is more like 7ft.
The game has also took a visual hitch when it comes to the locals probably to accommodate the more hectic 4 player co-op. Enemies and NPC’s still have a creative look to them. This might sound like All 4 One looks bad it doesn’t it’s just not as good as A Crack in Time. Most of the graphical steps down can be overlooked expect the obvious art style because the framerate runs smooth as butter.
The story has been stripped down with no real deep level that was present in The Future Series. The game is four player co-op all the time so nothing can really make these characters die or get seriously injured or even sit out for a while. The writer TJ Fixman still has some witty banter and dialogue that reference events outside of this game. Qwark and the Nefarious bicker in every cutscene which sometimes results in slapstick comedy. It’s weird that Nefarious only tries to kill Qwark once by pushing Qwark off an elevated platform. Why not kill him with one of the many weapons?
The game’s score is well done with creepy themes in dark forests and a more upbeat tone in a level lighter in tone. The score is ultimately forgettable though. All actors do their job well but the script felt to kiddy resulting in some lame jokes. The gun effects sound mostly meaty and the various monsters feel appropriately ambient.
The loading times are decent and there is no menu loading so thank the lord. Matchmaking and finding is good so the menus aren’t broken.
All 4 One is not a bad game just a game that is dwarfed by the games that came before it. It feels like a game where there were all good components and ideas but it all fell apart. Hardcore fans of the series and kids might get a kick out of it but still ultimately disappointing. If you’re new to the Ratchet franchise and want to get your feet wet I’d easily recommend The Future Series or the Ratchet and Clank Trilogy.