Tuesday, February 7, 2012

R&C: A4O

Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I love Ratchet and Clank. I started playing the series with the very first game on PS2, and I’ve played very nearly every title since—only the titles that were farmed out to another developer have passed me by. In fact, Insomniac inspired me to strive to work in game development in the first place and heavily influenced my choice when the most recent generation of gaming consoles first came out. When Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One was released, of course I was going to buy it.

That’s not to say I went in blind to the game. I’d known for some time it was going to be a different experience from the usual R&C fare, but that didn’t and still doesn’t bother me.

So how does All 4 One rate?
It’s not the best of the series, to be sure, but it’s not the weakest, either. That said, it’s very different from the previous games, and I have to commend Insomniac for that. They are nothing if not ambitious and willing to learn, which unfortunately isn’t always the case with some developers.

Let’s start with the gameplay itself. While I only played on my own, I could see the intent of cooperative multiplayer in much of the game. I often found myself wishing I had a few friends available to sit down and fill the other 3 spots, and I have to say I’d be glad to play the game again if the opportunity arises. Playing alongside an AI wasn’t bad, but it would occasionally act like an idiot and stand in a corner or (even worse) directly in front of enemy fire. Being able to talk and strategize with friends would have made some segments much less of an exercise in frustration. This would have been especially nice in areas where the difficulty curve took a sharp rise out of nowhere.

As in other R&C titles, the game encourages and rewards exploration with unlockables like character skins, concept art, and making-of videos. Unfortunately, it also really punishes the player for exploring with sudden-death drops and a fixed camera. I’d find myself wondering what might be hidden out of sight only to fall to my doom and, in one occasion, find the one place where I would continually respawn directly over the same fall and die again. This sort of thing eventually killed my interest in finding hidden things. Similarly, point-multiplier crates are often placed at the far end of a room, so that you only notice them once you’ve already picked up all the bolts in an area.

Now for the story. It was a decent plot, all told, but it’s probably nothing you haven’t seen before—although the ending did actually manage to surprise me. But things felt rushed, and we’re introduced to a character early on who ends up disappearing for most of the second and third acts. The plot just seems a little hurried and slightly forced. I was also a little confused as to why Nefarious was chosen as a fourth team member, considering both of Talwyn’s robot guards (Cronk and Zephyr) are constant voices in your ear throughout the game; Talwyn is even mentioned by them at one point. Nefarious does get some of the best lines in the cinematic sequences, but I can’t help but feel he just doesn’t fit here.

I don’t feel like I really need to comment on the artwork. It’s fantastic. Of course it’s fantastic. Everything is beautiful and the designs and animation make enemies and objects easy to recognize and respond to. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here for Insomniac.

For all my grievances, I still think it’s at least worth picking up once, and it’s probably a better experience if you’ve got a game night with some friends; should I ever get the chance to have a multiplayer go, I’ll see how my opinion changes. Right now, I’d say it’s better than Deadlocked, but not as good as A Crack in Time.

No comments:

Post a Comment