Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Cover
Platforms PlayStation 3
Genre Run, Gun, Bug
MtAMinutes to Action 10
Keep Playing? No
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Since picking up copies of PC Gamer back in the mid 90s, I’ve only ever played a few game demos that actually made me want to buy the final product. The free demo should be the ultimate introduction to the game, the perfectly crafted first hour. But for whatever reason, being tossed into the middle of the game just doesn’t sit right with me. Whether it’s out of context cutscenes or repetitive gameplay, it doesn’t take me much to cross it off my list.

My only previous experience with the Ratchet & Clank series was a demo for one of the PS2 titles (it’s hard to nail down which one since they were released every 12 months like clockwork) which opened with what felt like a 20 minute cutscene. Unskippable cutscene. I didn’t even make it to the gameplay before the console was reset out of anger and annoyance. I don’t play a Ratchet & Clank demo to learn about its amazing storyline, I play for whatever shooting/platforming/clanking it has to offer.

So here I am with the first hour of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One for the PlayStation 3. Released late last year, it’s still the newest game in the series... no, wait. Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault was released last week. So now we’re playing an out-of-date version of a has-been series. Here we go.

Ratchet up those Clankin’ Minutes

02 - An interview of Ratchet and Clank is being conducted on the status of Dr. Nefarious, they don’t want to be heroes anymore. The interviewer asks another hero, President Qwark, about the Doctor. He seems like a pretty awful ruler.

05 - I reach the main menu and hit the options, always need to check my Y-axis settings. Time to begin the game proper. I can actually pick what character I want to play as between Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Nefarious. Guess I’ll start with Ratchet. Seems like this is a multiplayer heavy game, but I’m playing alone.

08 - Ratchet, Clank, and Qwark hop out of a ship and begin arguing. They approach some frozen monster and Dr. Nefarious jumps out from behind it. Something goes wrong with monster reanimation and it starts ravaging the city with the four of us looking on.

10 - I gain control... finally.

15 - Pretty linear so far, run down platforms bopping enemies, at least I can double jump. Clank is helping me fight, too. I can see the giant monster destroying stuff in the background.

17 - I’m supposed to press R2+Square to throw my weapon at a bell, which I do once and it rings, but nothing happens. I keep trying to ring the bell to no avail. I think the game is broken.

20 - Well, I’m back at the main menu after the game bugged out on me, guess I’ll try playing as Dr. Nefarious instead. Oddly enough, he starts out at the exact same spot as Ratchet and Clank.

Ratchet and Clank all 4 one z Grute Boss

25 - This time Clank rings the bell too (he’s tagging along with Dr. Nefarious too for some reason) and the taxi actually comes to pick us up. I’m guessing this was intentional but the game feels a lot like Lego Star Wars.

30 - First I navigated the taxi myself by shifting my weight (running the character around) and now I’m grinding Sonic Adventure 2 style on some pipes dodging hot air. This is like Derivative Game #1.

38 - Just defeated the Z’Grute monster with my Combuster gun, the game has a kind of cool timed shooting feature, but it’s just executed by holding R1. Now he’s chasing me on a pipe.

45 - After more boss chasing, we finish him in an extended turret sequence. In that mission I collected 4000 bolts and killed 70 enemies. Some more story stuff happens and then it’s on to level 2.

55 - More of the same until I get a vacuum tool. Vrooooooooooooooooom!

Ratchet and Clank all 4 one Looking sad

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 10

I played a couple of first hours in a row one night, and All 4 One was at the tail end of the mini-marathon. This didn’t work out very well in the game’s favor as not only was the first hour extremely mundane, but it was just that much more mundane compared to something like Saints Row: The Third. My earlier comparison to the Lego Licensed Property games is also unfortunate, as being a linear slog through boring environments isn’t very fun if you don’t have some notable cultural history to spice things up. Bland all around.

And a game breaking bug 20 minutes in? This is what happens when you pump out a new game every year.

Bias: I’ve always seen the Ratchet & Clank series as Sony’s middling answer to Nintendo’s popular properties, but with a heavy-handed attempt at making it more “mature” with guns. All 4 One certainly did not impress me one bit, and I’ll just have to take fans of the series’ word for it when they nostalgize about it on the internet.

Would I Keep Playing? No, Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One was a lackluster, sometimes boring, mostly just run of the mill, glad-the-first-hour-is-over platform/run-and-gunner. The forced reset bug didn’t help its cause at all either. Maybe the game would have been more fun with another player or two.