As someone who prefers to play games solo most of the time, I always get a little bit annoyed when a developer makes a new game in one of my favourite single-player franchises multiplayer focused. Recently, it happened again with Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, but I’m such a fan of the titular furball and his robotic companion that I was willing to give it try anyway.
Well, for that reason and the fact that, although it’s meant to be a multiplayer game, the developers have included a pretty slick interface to allow solo gamers to go through it too. The story scenes are as entertaining as ever, and there’s plenty of them to view. This time, it seems that Dr Nefarious is still sore about Ratchet beating him Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time, and hatches a surprisingly small-in-scale and sure-to-fail plot for revenge – inviting Captain Qwark and his bodyguards, Ratchet and Clank, to a phony award ceremony. Things don’t go quite according to plan – surprise, surprise – and Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Dr Nefarious wind up having to join forces to clean up the mess.
This is where the multiplayer element comes into it. Up to four players can team up, either four players on one PS3 or four players from anywhere in the world playing together online, each one taking control of one of the four characters. Apart from the fact that there are one or two weapons exclusive to each character, there’s not much difference between them. From there, it’s standard Ratchet & Clank fare – blasting hordes of enemies, collecting mountains of bolts (money) to afford new weapons and upgrades and using gadgets to solve bizarre puzzles. The developers have masterfully enforced co-operation between players by making some tough enemies much easier to defeat with the concentrated fire of all the players and by making most of the puzzles co-op specific, requiring players to do things like, say, hit seperate switches at the same time or toss explosive fruit to each other to blow something up. And there’s plenty of variety in the challenges and puzzles you’ll end up facing – suprising variety at that.
But I know what some of you are thinking – where does that leave single player Ratchet fans? Fear not, you can still play the entire game by your lonesome. The way it works is that you pretty much play solo, and a CPU controlled ally will show up whenever you need to complete a co-op objective. This CPU ally is usually pretty intelligent, even going so far as perform some surprisingly complex strings of actions automatically when they are required to. Sometimes they can be really dumb too, but that’s rare.
The graphics and sound are top notch and the game is packed with personality, to the point where I’d readily recommend it to any R&C fan, whether you intend to play it with friends or alone.