Game Rant's Anthony Taormina reviews Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One
Like the Three Musketeers, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One works much better when teamwork is involved. All one simply need do is get together three of their closest friends, put them into one of four characters from Insomniac Games’ platforming series, and shoot, jump, swing, and vacuum their way to victory.
It’s a simple concept, the multiplayer party game, but never has it been done in quite the way that All 4 One does it. Sure, there are missteps along the way, and the game falls apart without teammates, but Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is surprisingly engaging.
The subtle hints of Ratchet and Clank mechanics can be found in All 4 One, although they are skewed a bit more towards cooperative play rather than all-out creative destruction. Instead of giving players a wealth of handy weapons with which to dispatch enemies (though there are still plenty), All 4 One provides incentives for the group to work together.
The gunplay rewards teammates for using the same weapons, on the same enemy, with the opportunity to do greater damage -- only if your team coordinates their efforts. However, it’s in the cooperative element that All 4 One’s biggest flaw reveals itself.
As your team works through the forgettable plot, they will be placed in situations that require various degrees of cooperation - tasks like piloting a boat or moving a glowing rock formation. However, the game incentivizes rogue gameplay (especially online) by ranking players and presenting numerous opportunities to earn valuable bolts. As a result, it’s hard to convince online players to work towards a common goal.
Not to mention, if someone chooses to go it alone (instead of joining the multiplayer route) they are thrown-in with one very cooperative AI teammate and are forced to trudge through sequences that, although not repetitive at first, begin to devolve into a stale pattern. It’s not a “win” in either situation, playing online multiplayer or single player, but at least flying solo allows gamers to take in the title's extremely well done level design rather than concern themselves with every stray bolt and power-up.
Thankfully, there’s one more way in which to experience All 4 One (and it is by far the most enjoyable of the three options): playing locally with friends. Even with just one other player-controlled teammate nearby, All 4 One really shows itself as a fun party game that is as competitive as it is cooperative.
As mentioned, there are moments of repetition - but with friends all around, the monotony is reduced significantly. In fact, Insomniac put together quite an array of team-based puzzles and scenarios, which the game’s trailers actually don't highlight enough. Players can, in one instance, be vacuuming one another up in order to shoot them across chasms or tether themselves together to swing into the next play area.
Couch co-op is preferable, since without being able to communicate in close quarters, and knowing that your teammates aren’t only trying to level up their character, the experience can only go so far. However, with friends there is the opportunity to both play around with some clever weapons (although it should be noted All 4 One’s arsenal is the most uninteresting of the series thus far) and to do some real team-based platforming — something that is very rare in video games these days. If you can find some friends who like the Ratchet and Clank milieu of creative combat and varied platforming, you’ll find a party game that is much more a winner than it is a loser.
By its very nature, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a dish that is best served to multiple people but because video games are both single and multiplayer, it has to let players fly solo. With that idea in mind it’s hard not to see the flaws on both sides of the coin — a somewhat repetitive series of gameplay mechanics for the single player and a competition that just isn’t much fun in the online multiplayer.
Ultimately, with too much emphasis on cooperation, and a decreased focus on using a variety of weapons, this title left will likely leave players longing for the singular Ratchet and Clank titles Insomniac does so well. Still, if you can get a couple friends together, some solid gaming will be enjoyed.
Have you had a chance to check out Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One? What do you think of this toned down, more party-centric version of Insomniac Games’ platformer?
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is available now exclusively for the PlayStation 3.