Gamescom 2010: Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One First Look PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Aug 20, 2010
Insomniac Games pleased more than a few fans during their Gamescom 2010 presentation at Sony’s press event earlier this week by finally unveiling their latest franchise iteration, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (oh, and releasing the teaser trailer for Resistance 3, complete with a grimy blues rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”).
The story is classic Ratchet and Clank, with Dr. Nefarious yet again failing to rid the universe of the blasted duo, only this time, the three of them, along with Captain Qwark, are captured by a mysterious and powerful machine and forced to work together to escape. Franchise veteran T.J. Fixman is once again lending his considerably humorous talents to the game, and Insomniac is working on a comic book series that will bridge the gap between Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time and All 4 One.
Despite being a natural a fit for cooperative play, Insomniac never pulled the co-op trigger. Until now. But the developers didn’t just go, “Perfect. We have Ratchet. We have Clank. Two-player co-op it is!” That was the original plan, but as Insomniac’s James Stevenson explained during our interview at Gamescom, once the team started toying around with three and four-player co-op, there was no going back.
The result is All 4 One’s 1-4 player experience that takes everything fans love about the franchise—the humor, the characters, the writing, the platforming, the collecting, and, of course, the weapons—and delivers in a completely new, cooperative package. And while the game can be played alone (with another AI-controlled bot), it’s definitely meant to be played with at least one other human player.
Insomniac has scaled the game in such a way to make it enjoyable and fun for a lone player, but there are tons of incentives and bonuses (not to mention good old-fashioned horseplay) that can only be experienced with other players. One portion of the demo we saw required all four players to hold hands to form a human kite to ride the upward thrust of a wind tunnel to safety. You could do it with two players, but having to coordinate with three other players clearly made it all the more challenging and exciting.
Players can also use each other as weapons or as puzzle pieces depending on what the situation dictates. Let’s say you need to hit some giant pressure pads in order to bring down the shields of some giant mech trying to destroy you and your friends with laser beams. Just pick up your nearest pal with the game’s vacuum gun and launch them onto the unreachable platform. It’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s everything you’d expect from a Ratchet and Clank coop experience.
And while the game is very much about encouraging cooperation (and even offers big rewards for doing so, the details of which Insomniac isn’t sharing just yet), there are also plenty of opportunities for players to outshine their friends competitively as well. Like all games in the series, players collect bolts to purchase new items and upgrades, but collectively there are also special items and collectibles that can snatched up by individual players. Insomniac is working hard to strike this nice balance between cooperation and competition, and given the section of the game that I saw, I’d say the developers are well on their way.
A cooperative Ratchet and Clank game is about as natural a fit as they come, and from what Insomniac has shown off, it’s obvious that the team is cherishing the opportunity to realize a long held vision for what the franchise could be if given the proper time and attention. Definitely keep at least two pairs of eyes on Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One over the coming months.