Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – E3 Preview

Ratchet and Clank have been around for almost a decade now, but never before has multiplayer been an important element of the duo’s series. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One will be the first to break this barrier, and is being headed by the extremely talented group over at Insomniac Games. Despite releasing later this year, little is known about the game other than the basics and premise, but thankfully E3 2011 allowed us to really see what the title is all about.

Two stages were available in the playable demo, but before we made that decision we had to pick our characters. Ratchet, Clank, Captain Qwark, and Doctor Nefarious are all available for play, and each is modelled wonderfully. More importantly, each of these characters have their own special ability. For example, Nefarious is able to become invisible and can then ambush an opposing enemy for massive critical damage. I was able to try two of the special abilities, and both of them were the most enjoyable in the arsenal of roughly a dozen different weapons, which means a lot considering the standard weapons are extremely varied and pleasuring to use.

All of the staples of the series have carried over to this co-op title, including bolts to collect, the artistic look, family-friendly humor, and more. While this isn’t going to be a particularly story-driven game, it does follow the events of the last release, and will satisfy die-hard fans.

As we progressed through the first stage, more co-operative based objectives began to appear. These range from using two players to unlock a door, to using the ability to have two or more players at different locations at the same time to complete puzzles and objectives. While these were a great fit, nothing was more enjoyable than utilizing both the vacuum and tether features during play. The vacuum is what you’d expect, and allow players to pick up one of their buddies and launch them a great distance. This is used for many different situations, and was critical for defeating the boss I encountered at the end of the first stage. Similarly, tethering does somewhat the opposite, and essentially allows players to zipline themselves to the closest friendly target on the fly. Both of these abilities are very fun to use, and together create some enjoyable group experiences.

Upon completing a stage, scores are tallied, and a victor is determined based on collectibles and performance. To help keep everyone happy, the game notes something that each player excelled at, whether it be kill total, or even most boxes demolished. As with the rest of the game, post-stage moments are very fun in a group setting.

Simply stated, the characters and universe are a leg up from the last release, A Crack in Time. Everything is beautifully rendered, and both levels available in the demo were completely different in design, something I hope and believe will carry over to the final game. It is unclear how many levels will be in the final release, but if there are a lot – and Insomniac Games is known for going the extra mile – then this is one co-op game that will last a good while.

I would also like to note that drop-in, drop-out is fully implemented in the game, and allows both local and online players to join based on your configuration. Also, if you don’t have someone to play with, don’t worry, because the AI will place itself in your game to make sure you can play even when your friends aren’t around. With that said, this is a game you will want to play with people you know, and it’s extremely charming, so its audience is pretty much everyone.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One releases mid-October exclusively for the PlayStation 3.