With an impressive track record of (almost) entirely single player games, Ratchet & Clank have managed to cobble together a hugely enjoyable adventure with each new title without fail, and without even having to stray from their trademark formula. So far so good so safe. Insomniac have delivered the whimsical space adventure to eager gamers for years now, and with the announcement of their latest R&C game ‘All 4 One’, it looks like they are experimenting with things this time around.
All 4 One is unlike any of the previous R&C titles because it is built upon a strong co-op play style. While we are used to jumping around with Clank strapped on our back and lending a hand to the evil-ass-whooping wherever needed, we’ve never had to accommodate a co-operative experience (save for the fantastic multiplayer on Ratchet: Gladiator), and it appears that in All 4 One we won’t have a choice.
Understandably some people will find this uncomfortable and strange news because they’ve grown to expect what a R&C game delivers in a lot of ways. However we can’t really judge until we know a little bit more about it all, and Insomniac are keeping tight lipped about it at the moment. Arse. What we do know though, is that Ratchet’s sworn enemy Dr Nefarious is trying to destroy Captain Quark when something goes a bit wrong (as usual), and for some reason all 4 of them are captured and held prisoner on a mysterious planet at the edge of the galaxy. Suitably comic, I’d expect no less.
Suddenly Nefarious is forced to team up with the iconic duo and their pet muscle man in order to escape the dangerous facility. But while the gameplay is designed to make players co-operate, it is also competitive at the same time. Basically underlying the whole ‘team’ thing is a collect and reward system to keep in mind throughout each level. Players want to get the most bolts, kills, and rare items in order to pimp out their character (similar to an RPG perhaps?) with cooler upgrades than their buddies.
All 4 One is set to feature all sorts of bizarre co-op/competitive weapons and gadgets to aid/punish teammates, with things like the ‘Vac-U’ being used to pick up other characters (then either throw them off of something tall or across a perilous gap). Chad Dezern (from Insomniac) explains that “each level unveils new mechanics…in one sequence, characters join hands to create enough wind resistance to float up a wind tunnel. In another, they load themselves into a cluster-cannon”. So we don’t need to worry about whether Insomniac are being their usual insane and creative selves, but instead ponder how something like this might play out in relation to what we’ve already had from R&C games.
Hopefully the quality bar that the developers are famous for will make All 4 One worth picking up even if it isn’t what we’re used to.
The co-op system works with local and online play, and it does look rather fun. Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is due for release in Autumn 2011.