Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a teamwork-based game starring our heroes Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious. Now, these aren't characters that typically work together, and given their history, can you really blame them? During Insomniac Games’ most recent preview event, held this week in Los Angeles, we were shown some of the opening scenes from the game, so potential spoilers ahead. RC: All 4 One takes place right after A Crack In Time. Qwark is the president and is focused on re-election, Ratchet and Clank are retired heroes, and Dr.Nefarious is, well he's still evil. Qwark has been sent an award, a giant ominous looking monster bearing his teeth. Don't worry. He's in cryogenic sleep, and we all know baddies never wake up from that. Turns out the award was a trap. I know! I was floored too. Dr. Nefarious was actually behind the award all along, however something goes awry, and the sleeping beast is now awake and angry. The monster begins to attack and the scene ends.
Ratchet and Clank wake up in chains. They are hanging upside down in a vast metal chamber. To your left is Qwark, swinging back and forth. You hear an old-timey radio; it's Dr.Nefarious. Qwark punches him, and he wakes up. No one, myself included, knows how they got there. Before the immobile foursome can begin to bicker, a voice is heard from below. It’s a young girl.. Why is she in this metal prison? I immediately thought of the scene in Men in Black when Will Smith instinctively shoots the little girl who was out of place. Whatever her reason for being there she frees the team and scene ends. I still don't trust the little girl.
In the next scene, the group is sitting around a fire. We now know they are on Planet Magnus. The planet is home to the Creature Collector, a giant machine that collects species from around the galaxy. No one knows who is controlling the Creature Collector or what they want. The best place to start is with Commander Spock. If you're like me, you're thinking, "Good for him! He finally got promoted...Oh, a different Spock." Soon all four realize they are dealing with a power greater than any one of them. Even Dr. Nefarious comes to his senses, and with the help of a demented parrot is convinced to work with the group, since it’s either that or get left behind with the parrot.
- Video Preview: On Location: Insomniac Games Community Day
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One isn't just about having four players that can each do their own thing. It's about co-op, co-op in the sense that everyone on your team has strengths, weaknesses, and a role to play when solving puzzles. Qwark can activate the quantum deflector, a shield. And Clank can slow down time. They also need to work in unison to accomplish many of the game's challenges. The next scene we saw took place on a river, aka the Octono Reef, with all four characters in a round boat. This idea of teamwork is put to the test as all four players must use levers in the boat to steer, break, and shoot. The guys from Insomniac called this a "democratic vehicle."
Next they showed a level called the Terawatt Forest. The forest had been struck by meteors, mutating the creatures and vegetation. As the team jumped around, the devs reiterated the importance of teamwork but as luck would have it, there is an "I" in team. Yes, you're constantly trying to work together, but you're also competing against each other for the most bolts. This in-game currency is what allows you to buy new weapons. You also get points, and more points are rewarded to players who use collaborative attacks to bring down enemies. An example being using your vacuum cleaner, yes you're armed with an Oreck, to launch a teammate to a platform they wouldn't be able to reach on their own. Or if you and another player aim and attack at the same enemy at the same time, you'll get more points for the kill.
In another scene Ratchet, Clank and the rest of the gang controlled a guardian, a giant mech. This scene was an example of the many types of gameplay styles the game will feature. The guardian is similar to the megazord from Power Rangers. All the characters control their own gun from atop the guardian to ward of enemies.
After all these cinematics and having to watch the professionals play, I finally got my hands on the game The level I played was called Seaside Village, and I got to play in glorious 3D. Typically, I'm not a fan of 3D, but I thought it looked cool, for lack of a more sophisticated word. The graphics weren't in your face or popping off the screen. It just felt like the characters were their own entity, not just another part of the background. I probably would have forgotten it was even in 3D if the glasses weren't so big on my face. Lots of people have small heads; this is a real concern.
I played the game the way it was meant to be played, with four-player co-op. Each person on the couch was a different member of the team, I was Qwark. In an effort to keep everyone on screen at once, the game uses a director's camera angle, which means it’s third-person but at an angle, similar to God of War. Luckily, I was the giant green character and easy to track. The players on the couch next to me often blamed their deaths on not being able to keep in mind who was who. Amateurs.
Seaside Village was pretty straightforward. There was some minor platforming and a few puzzles. Once we all seemed to get a feel a for the controls, circle to use your vacuum and R1 to use your weapon, we were speeding through. You actually have quite an assortment of weapons. Pushing down on the right joystick brings up the weapon wheel. As the game progresses, you'll earn or purchase more weapons. Mechanical looking enemies were placed throughout the level, but they were never too much of a hassle to kill. The real threat to your life bar is falling off ledges. There are plenty of chances to walk off the side, plummet into nothing, or even swing across a ledge at the wrong time and upon landing be pushed off. In the end, we got through the level, and I scored the most points on my team. You’re welcome, team!
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a PS3 exclusive set for release this fall.