Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One Review

By Morgan Webb - Posted Oct 18, 2011

If you're looking for a gift for a kid, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One could be a good choice. If you are a hardcore fan of this series, you may find this a satisfying snack until the next title comes out, but proceed with caution.

The Pros
  • There are enough classic Ratchet elements to hold fans over until the
  • next Ratchet title
  • Varied gameplay keeps you interested
  • Full length story and the desire to level all the characters makes it replayable
The Cons
  • Kid-friendly tone will disappoint fans of the series and turn off newcomers
  • There are some single player framerate issues and some minor online
  • multiplayer glitches
  • Puzzles are so easy they barely warrant being called puzzles

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One Review:

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One is a four-player co-op action platformer that can be played together online or in your living room. Ratchet, Clank, Captain Quark, and Dr. Nefarious team up to thwart an evil plot and save the galaxy.

Wait...we have to work together?

You can use your weapons cooperatively to take down enemies faster, or combine their powers for a devastating attack. It is also essential to revive your downed compatriots, and work in tandem to solve puzzles. Also classic Ratchet are the unique sequences that break up the standard running and shooting, like manning a turret on top of a giant mech, or using a jetpack to navigate tunnels. These sequences are for the most part truly fun and keep you interested in seeing what comes up next.

The weapons, also a classic of the franchise, lack some of the true joy we’ve seen before. It may be because with four players on screen and all the requisite flying bolts, they couldn’t also add a thousand saw blades. You often end up using the same few standard weapons over and over again instead of experimenting, especially because weapon upgrades are purchased rather than earned through use. There are also a surprising number of short range weapons for a game with very few short range enemies. However, you can still turn an enemy into a cute animal, so its not all bad.

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When you are jumping and shooting and snowboarding and jetpacking you’re having much more fun than when you are solving cooperative puzzles, or, as is more appropriate in this case, completing tasks. Calling them puzzles unfortunately feels a tad generous. You have to hit this switch while your buddy plugs this thing in, then you both push this lever and we’re on to the next electrical outlet. These tasks will not be challenging to any teen or adult player, and it will feel like busy work. This is especially true in comparison to A Crack in Time, which had some brilliant and challenging puzzles.

There are also some bonus challenges you can unlock by collecting critters. These are fun enough but feel oddly tacked on to the main game. I couldn’t quite figure out what the collectible critters had to do with anything, and even though I am a sucker for loot I eventually stopped worrying about these puzzl...no, not puzzles, tasks.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

I never thought I would say this, but I miss the crotch jokes.

The tone and dialogue skew much younger than previous games. The series has always been appropriate for teens and pre-teens, but All 4 One lacks the puns, winks, and double entendres that served to make this a truly all-ages franchise. It was the bawdy irreverence that made the series so great. This does not mean All 4 One is insipid or cloying (OK there is one character that is insipid and cloying, you’ll know her the instant she opens her precious little mouth) and there are funny moments and some clever laugh lines, but without any edge it feels like Ratchet without the soul. Combine this with a more cartoonish art style and adults and older teens will likely be turned off. Unfortunately, since younger kids just want to play what their older brother is playing, I don’t think this is ultimately a winning strategy for the franchise.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

So there’s this thing called a video game, it’s like a movie but it’s interactive...

I know not everyone is the most experienced gamer in the world. Some people play more video games than others. One thing I do know is that kids are idiot savants at video games. Well, maybe I could have left out the idiot part, but you get what I mean. You want to get smoked at Modern Warfare? Play a 10 year old online. You will get annihilated. So even though this game thinks I am 10, why does it think I am a moron? THE HEALTH BAR IS RIGHT HERE, SEE IT? IT IS HERE, IN THE CORNER, WHERE IT IS IN EVERY GAME YOU HAVE EVER PLAYED. IT TELLS YOU HOW MUCH HEALTH YOU HAVE. ITS RIGHT HERE. DO YOU SEE IT?

Yeah. I got that. Health. Can we get on with it? More annoying than that little indignity is that every time they introduce you to a new enemy, they stop all gameplay, zoom in, and tell you its name is Grove Beetle. It really breaks up the gameplay, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why they did it or what purpose it could serve, other than to stop any fun in its tracks.

While we’re hanging out in Morgan’s Nitpick Corner, I’ll mention that you can’t reprogram your weapon slots. Also you can’t use the back button to back out of pause, you have to hit start again. Also I don’t like the color they used on the floor in the first level, I would have gone with #7F99A5. Thanks for visiting Morgan’s Nitpick Corner.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

Hell is other people

While the game is geared towards multi-player it still needs to hold up as a single player game, because there will unfortunately be times when even the most popular people (like you and me) won’t have anyone to play with. The game is fun in single player, but the financial rewards are scant. When you are playing with others, the game is a bolt bonanza. You have hundreds of thousands of bolts and you buy and upgrade your weapons without a care in the world. Click click click spend spend spend! Throw it on the charge card! Who cares? I’m made of bolts!

When you play in single player it’s a different story. You must carefully consider each purchase, and this is when you wish you had more information about the weapons and upgrades. Is it long range or short range? How much more ammo capacity do I get with the “ammo” upgrade. How elite is the “elite” upgrade? It’s important to have a balanced inventory so this is a big consideration when money is tight, and it’s unfortunate this information is not available. I have no doubt this decision was made to keep weapon selection rapid in multiplayer, and let’s be honest, no one wants to wait for that one guy to weigh 4 more ammo against a 10% damage boost, but I wish a better balance could have been struck. My first solo playthrough I got stuck with a bum weapon load-out and there wasn’t much I could do to fix it.

Additionally, some sequences, for example one in which you navigate a ship through an asteroid field, were fiddly and annoying when played alone, but fun and intuitive when played with others. Just be patient. These are usually relatively short and you’ll get through them, and think of how much you’ll enjoy them when you play with friends.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One

Memorieeeeees, all alone in the mooooonlight! La La La La La Laaaaa Laaaa!

All the pieces of Ratchet are here - there are fun weapons and rail slides and giant robot bosses, but it all feels a little paint-by-numbers. They knew that Ratchet games have rail sliding segments so they added those in, but it seems like they didn’t understand the real reason the games were so successful in the first place. For a long time fan of the series, it feels like something you loved got hit over the head with a focus group and then squeezed through a pastry bag of kid friendly-ness. Why a pastry bag? I don’t know, it’s the best I could come up with. Alternate metaphor suggestions are welcome.

If you’re looking for a gift for a kid this could be a good choice. If you are a hardcore fan of this series, you may find this a satisfying snack until the next title comes out. I enjoyed the Ratchet-ness of the game because it reminds me of other Ratchet games I’ve enjoyed more. However, if your experience won’t be colored by happy memories and nostalgia, skip this game. If you’re a hardcore adult gamer who has always been curious about this series, I would recommend that you start instead with the excellent Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time. I promise you won’t be sorry. As an added bonus you’ll be able to pick it up brand new for under $30.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?