This is the first game in the Ratchet and Clank series to offer multiplayer. In fact, you can have up to four players playing online or together on a single console. The game starts out with Ratchet and Clank declaring their retirement on the news. They later accompany President Qwark to the Tool of Justice awards ceremony, where Dr Nefarious releases a light-eating Z’grute upon our heroes, and circumstances force Nefarious to join up and help defeat the monster, and so the team of four is created.
Just as the heroes (and one villain) manage to take down the Z’grute and save the city, they are all captured by a mysterious machine and whisked off to places unknown. Needless to say, Ratchet and Clank are forced out of retirement to save the galaxy once more.
The local co-op works on a single screen (rather than split screen), though this does restrict the camera angles somewhat. Still, it works rather well and a friend can drop in or out at any time during a level. If you can find an online game with decent lag, there’s plenty of fun to be had with friends or complete strangers. To avoid too much confusion, each character has a very specific colour for their targeting reticule, which helps a lot when the air becomes thick with enemies and bullets.
You might run into the odd problem with the multiplayer camera – all players share the same view, whether you’re playing local or online coop. This means that the camera centres on player one, whoever that might be. So if you are going in a different direction from player one, you might get dragged off a ledge or even right off the screen (resulting in your untimely death and loss of bolts). Even if you’re not doing this intentionally, a laggy online game might have you dying often because of this. (Jump pads often disengage players, leaving them miles behind while everyone else launches to the next game area.) Unfortunately, sometimes the game won’t respawn you when you die too far off the screen and you may very well be kicked out by your peers.
The levels are all designed with cooperative play in mind, so there are plenty of puzzles that require two people to solve them and weapon effects become more powerful when more players use the same weapon on the same target. This doesn’t mean you’re disadvantaged if you are playing alone – one of the other characters will appear to help you when needed. (Clank stops being a backpack when you are in a fight or need someone to toss around in the Vac-U.)
(I’m sorry, the what?) The Vac-U is a vacuum that also blows. (Oh this is going downhill….) Suck a small enemy onto it and blast him at his friends, or over the edge of the map. You can also suck your friend into the Vac-U and catapult them to hard-to-reach ledges and buttons, or give them the lift they need to bop an enemy on the head.
Your four characters – Ratchet, Clank, Dr Nefarious and Qwark – are linked to your profile, so you only have to unlock weapons and level up once for each character. There are lots of things to collect and plenty of weapons and weapon upgrades to purchase to help you on your adventures. Depending on which characters are on the screen, they exchange witty banter and make other character-specific comments, which can be quite entertaining. (Dr Nefarious’ cackle and retort as someone dies, is truly brilliant.) Each character also has their own unique weapon so there’s reason to play with each of the characters at least a little bit, and this also helps to give each character a unique feel and tactic.
Your Vac-U also acts as a storage place for helpless critters. While running around the world, you get to fight over who gets to suck up the next poké…er…critter. Hidden through several levels are a few challenges that you can only access if you have collected enough critters. These challenges test your various skills within a time limit, as you have to complete various tasks to stop a critter from plummeting to their doom. Get this right, and you unlock a piece of a large, awesome weapon that awaits you…
Retired heroes Cronk and Zephyr serve as tongue-in-cheek mentors for the group, and facilitate your shopping and upgrading needs. The pair will even admit to “looking on the Internet for a walkthrough” to help with some of the boss beasts. When a new piece of equipment arrives, Zephyr and Cronk explain how they work with highly-stylised, hilarious artworks and animations.
The game is light, fun, family friendly and easy to pick up and play. This also means that the puzzles are fairly easy, but the cooperative aspect adds a bit of challenge, especially if you’re playing with people of varying skill levels. The first half of the game is excellent. The story and characters are entertaining, engaging and highly enjoyable. The levels are varied and visually interesting as well. However, you may start to forget how great the beginning was as you get further into the game. The latter half really seems to drag as the storyline gets a bit drawn out and frankly, a bit unbelievable. Similarly, the combat, which is challenging but fun throughout the game, starts to increase in difficultly almost suddenly, and can quickly become irritating. Needless to say, the game would have benefitted from being a few hours shorter.
A barrel of fun with easy to grasp controls and a user-friendly interface. Camera niggles sometimes make it hard to explore the area fully, or result in a player dying as the camera leaves them behind.
Design and Presentation: 7/10
The visuals in this game are clean, bright and colourful. The in-game environments are beautifully rendered, as are the characters. The cartoon look works well and fits the off-beat humour of the gameplay. Unfortunately, the obvious freeze when the game loads a cinematic is far too long.
This game has a fair amount to unlock and achieve and will be a great way to spend an afternoon with your friends. Multiplayer does appear to be fun, but may be too laggy for your liking, sometimes making it downright impossible to play.
This is a highly entertaining game… to start with. The second half lets it down somewhat, but overall it is still a fun experience. There is plenty to collect and unlock, whether you’re playing alone or with friends.
Last Updated: November 11, 2011