Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is a game for the PlayStation 3 developed by Insomniac Games. It is the 9th installment in the Ratchet & Clank series and takes place two years after the events of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. The game is a platformer shooter; however, it relies on a four player co-operative system where the players can choose to play as either Ratchet, Clank, Qwark or Nefarious. It is the first spin-off game in the series by Insomniac Games.
The game began when Galactic President Captain Qwark went to the city of Luminopolis to receive an "Intergalactic Tool of Justice Award." He asked Ratchet and Clank to escort him which, in reality, was a part of Nefarious's latest plan. During the "ceremony," Nefarious unleashed a Light-Eating Z'Grute on the city of Luminopolis, which was eventually defeated by Ratchet, Clank, Qwark and Nefarious, who after being abandoned by Lawrence had no choice but to help the heroes fight the creature. However, the rare creature attracted the attention of Ephemeris the Creature Collector, and the foursome were kidnapped and dumped on planet Magnus. When Cronk and Zephyr failed to successfully reach the planet and rescue the four, the team decided to band together to find their way home. They later found out Ephemeris was using Magnus as an open-air reserve for the universe's most dangerous creatures, which terrorized the locals. The team was rescued by a little girl. Although hesitantly, Ratchet and Clank postponed their retirement vacation and set off to stop Ephemeris. With no other way to get home, Qwark and Nefarious begrudgingly joined the two heroes. After the team traveled to the Deadgrove, they found out Ephemeris was guarded by Commander Spog. The team found N.E.S.T, a base of operations for Spog, and after a long battle found out from a beaten Sprog that Ephemeris was controlled by Nevo Binklemeyer, a long-time friend of Frumpus Croid.
After leaving N.E.S.T, the team found out that only Dr. Croid knew how to defeat Ephemeris and headed over to Terawatt Forest, beyond Octonok Cay. They also found Dr. Croid's first holo-diary, which showed critters and tharpods living together on Magnus in happiness and peace. In Octonok Cay, the team found Dr. Croid's next two holo-diaries. They revealed that Dr. Nevo Binkelmiyer, Dr. Croid's colleague, had betrayed him, ravaged his laboratory and stolen the plans to a protomorphic energy extracter as well as Dr. Croid's companion, Mr. Dinkles, who Dr. Croid sent a smaller version of Ephemeris to rescue. A fourth holo-diary found by the team in Dr. Croid's research station showed that Nevo had seized control of Ephemeris and modified it to seek out lifeforms on other planets. The team then traveled to the Hall of Paradoxology in Terawatt Forest and found that Dr. Croid had moved his laboratory to the Phonica Moon, having expected Nevo to make an assassination attempt on him. Once the team had reached the moon, they found that Dr. Croid had seemingly gone insane. After accessing the lab's computers, Nefarious discovered that Ephemeris had a charging dock stationed on the Vilerog Plateau just outside Uzo City. The team took Dr. Croid's escape pod to the Vilerog Plateau, but on the way, Ephemeris attacked them and they crash landed into the Polar Sea, unable to contact Cronk and Zephyr. When they finally discovered a railway station, they found that it was broken. However, The Plumber appeared and fixed the station so the heroes could travel to Uzo City.
When the team reached the core of Ephemeris, they discovered that Nevo was not actually in control of the device. He had been betrayed by Mr. Dinkles, who was possessed by a Toranux Spirit. He revealed that Mr. Dinkles had been responsible for the everything Dr. Croid thought Nevo had done. Although Nevo tried to stop Mr. Dinkles, Mr. Dinkles captured Nevo and made him his "pet." He planned on using the collected beasts as vessels for the Toranux Spirits so that they could destroy the universe. After fighting the heroes, he extracted his spirit into a Rykan V Grivelnox. After a long and fierce final battle, Dr. Croid and Nevo managed to extract the spirit, which was promptly destroyed by Nefarious. Soon afterwards, the team took a collective sigh of relief and Dr. Croid and Nevo reunited. A moment later, Cronk and Zephyr arrived, revealing that they finally received help from Lawrence. Nefarious and Lawrence proceeded to steal Cronk and Zephyr's ship and left the heroes stranded on Magnus. Thankfully, Ratchet remembered that Ephemeris was still active, and everyone decided to use it so that they could return to Luminopolis.
After the credits, Lawrence told Nefarious of a secret route they could take past the barriers set by the Polaris Defense Force, as Nefarious nostalgically looked at the picture he took with Ratchet, Clank, and Qwark.
Gameplay consists of firefights with a varied arsenal of weapons like previous games, but it is largely centered around cooperative gameplay mechanics. Players will often have to cooperate and rely on each other to progress though a level, but Insomniac has been careful to keep All 4 One enjoyable at the same time. "We had gameplay mechanics where one player would do something and the other three were waiting for them to do it. It was just intensely boring. Waiting around is not a lot of fun," said Mike McManus, a gameplay programmer at Insomniac.
Examples of this co-op gameplay are sections where players must launch each other onto buttons with the Vac-U, or tilt their controllers in unison to move the team in order to escape a wind tunnel by creating the most air resistance. Some platforms act like a seesaw and will topple over if too much weight is applied to one side, so players must work together to balance the platform and prevent falling off. Teamwork is rewarded though a co-op points system. These points "are charging something up" and "make a very cool thing happen in the game." Some points go to players' individual profiles "when you work together very well." For example, co-op points are awarded when extra Nanotech is passed onto a teammate who has low health.
The "director's view" camera allows for more cinematic views than previous games, which Insomniac has named "cinematic co-op." These cinematic sequences occur in "almost every level." In addition to providing cinematic views, the camera changes position to give the optimal view of points of interest, such as a 3/4 top view of a group of enemies or a side view of a platforming section.
While cooperative, gameplay can also be competitive. The bolt counter at the top right of the screen compares players' individual bolt counts, fueling friendly rivalries and races to become the first owner of a new weapon. The Vac-U can also be used to launch players into a bottomless pit in order to get a certain item first. The before-mentioned co-op points system is meant to discourage from players abusing these competitive mechanics and acting like total jerks by rewarding cooperation. According to an article by Joystiq, the competitive mechanics can be switched off if this becomes a problem, though there has been no mention of this since. Players can also be kicked or banned from a session. More casual competition exists in mechanics like Cluster Cannons, where the first player to activate the cannon gets a bonus.
death is penalized only with a small bolt penalty (40 bolts in the Luminopolis demo) and having to wait a few seconds to respawn. If you die in combat, you can be revived by other players using your Vac-U. However, if the whole team dies, they have to go back to the last checkpoint.
All 4 One adds a four-player drop-in drop-out co-op system to the classic Ratchet & Clank formula. The four players can be local, through the use of multiple controllers; online players, through the use of PlayStation Network; or, in the case of a single player, one AI character controlled by the CPU. Voice chat is supported. Players can drop in or out at any time during gameplay. If you play alone, you will have the choice of playing as Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, or Dr. Nefarious. If you choose Ratchet, Qwark, or Dr. Nefarious, an AI controlled Clank will ride on your back and hop off to fight enemies and help in sections that require two players. Any combination of characters can be used when playing single player, such as a miniaturised Qwark that hops onto Clank's back in singleplayer and jumps off in combat in full-size. As players progress through the game, they build up a profile associated with their PSN ID. When players join an online game hosted by another player's profile, they get to keep "some things" associated with their profile, one of which is trophies. Players can also login to their profile on another PS3 to keep those "things" when playing.
To accommodate inexperienced players, All 4 One uses alerts to keep online players on the same page and avoid the frustration of trying to tell your clueless team members what to do. In addition, each character has an appropriate color which is used to associate items and objects in the HUD with that player. To keep players aware of where their characters are, character-colored trails appear during longer jumps, and colored rings appear underneath characters in darker areas like Terawatt Forest. This is also used in more specific situations, for example, characters wakeboard in one gameplay sequence, connected to the boat with colored ropes. This allows players to quickly locate their relatively small characters on screen by looking for their character's color.
At the end of each level or section of a level, bonus bolts are awarded, players' bolt counts are compared, and players are given "awards" reflecting their approach on the level. Example awards are "Bolt Master" for collecting the most bolts and "Noob" for dying the most.
Weapons and gadgets
Weapons are more powerful when used cooperatively. The Combuster, for example, adapts to All 4 One's cooperative nature by multiplying damage as more players fire at an enemy. New weapons like the Darkstar Fission Tether and Thundersmack are made for multiplayer. Electric energy beams connect player's Darkstar tethers together, creating a web of electricity which can be moved around of slice through groups of enemies or damage a larger enemy. Weapon upgrades can be purchased with bolts.
Each character uses their own unique melee attack, which are all aptly named. Ratchet uses his wrench, Clank uses Clank Fu, Qwark punches enemies with his "Fists of Justice," and Nefarious uses his claws, named "Annihilator Blades." In addition, each player can perform a slam move that acts like an OmniWrench Hyper-strike. Each character also has a boomerang-like weapon which acts like an OmniWrench Comet-strike.
A new gadget called Hookshot replaces the Swingshot from previous games and adds some new features for co-op. Players can latch onto each other with the Hookshot's grapple. versa-targets are placed with a lot of space between them, so players must latch onto each other to reach the next vera-target. The Hookshot can also be used to pull a player falling to their death back up, or to pull the rest of the team over a gap after one player has gotten across.
Each character also has an appropriate special weapon. Ratchet has the Doppelbanger, a decoy; Clank has the Zoni Ray, which slows down enemies; Qwark has the Quantum Deflector shield, highlighting his "not a fighter" personality; and Nefarious has the Cloaker, highlighting his sneakiness and treachery. These weapons can be used cooperatively to help other team members. For example, you can draw enemy fire with a Doppelbanger decoy, taking the pressure off other team members.
is used as an action button in All 4 One. Some objects have a icon floating over them whenever the characters are close. Whenever a player holds , their character performs the action related to it. If there is no object such object near, is used for the Hookshot. The Quick Select can be accessed by moving the right stick. Melee attacks can be performed with . L3 is used for sprinting. is no longer used for firing weapons, but for the Vac-U. Holding L1 is locks onto the target in the aiming reticule, and makes your character strafe. L2 is used to show bolt total, how much bolts remain in your bank or to call your companion in single player. The D-Pad is used for two things, toggling between the last weapon used (if you currently have a gadget equipped) and the last gadget used (if you have a weapon equipped) and 3 quickslots. To assign a weapon to a quickslot, hold L2 + R2 and press the direction on the D-Pad you want to assign the weapon to, up left or right.
All 4 One was the first game since Tools of Destruction to radically alter the art style from previous entries. The game takes on an even more cartoony aesthetic than its predecessors, owing to its more light-hearted story and party-like gameplay.
Most characters have seen a notable alteration in size. Ratchet's head has been made larger, even moreso than in the PlayStation 2 titles, and the detailed fur effects added in Tools of Destruction have been substantially reduced in most areas, with his ears retaining the most of it.
Clank has been a substantial increase in height, being roughly half as tall as Ratchet as opposed to a rough third of Ratchet's height. Additionally, he shrinks down a bit when riding another character's back in Single Player.
Qwark has had the least drastic change of the group, appearing larger, with a smaller head. His trademark "butt chin" has been smoothed out as well.
Nefarious has received a noticeable downgrade in height and his proportions have been made more extreme. He's now a little taller than Ratchet, where he used to be more than double the lombax's height. His hands, feet and head are larger, and his body is much smaller in some areas. Additionally, his primary colour has been shifted to purple as opposed to the dark blue and grey of previous titles, likely to not confuse between Clank, whose primary colour is light blue.
Moving forward, the series would use the same art style, albeit with minor alterations (Clank's size returning to normal, Ratchet's fur being restored) from Full Frontal Assault to Into the Nexus. It would not be until the 2016 reimagining that the series would undergo a third art style shift, returning to something more akin to the future titles, with some of the refinements All 4 One brought to the table.
Behind the scenes
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One was not the only title that was considered for the final product. Insomniac Games mentioned there was a spreadsheet that contained manypotential titles. The three most popular unused titles were 4 Play, Multiple Organisms, and Bros b4 Foes.
All co-op gameplay mechanics had to pass a test which Insomniac has dubbed "CAKE." This stands for "Co-op, Active for all players, Kinetic, and Easy to understand."
In November 2012 Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One was added to the PlayStation Plus instant game collection, making it available to download for free to PlayStation Plus members.
Various members of Insomniac Games had wanted to have co-operative play with both Ratchet and Clank at the same time. Brian Allgeier soon suggested adding Qwark and Chad Dezern then decided Nefarious could also be added to turn it into a four player game.
It was given a "Great" 8 out of 10 rating by IGN who praised the fun multiplayer gameplay and puzzle sections. However, they did say that the story and graphics were not as good as the previous Ratchet & Clank game, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. GameInformer also praised the game's co-operative gameplay, giving it a 8.75 out of 10.
Official PlayStation Magazine UK gave Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One a 6 out of 10 rating. They praised the co-operative fun with a range of gadgets and weaponry and the humorous story but criticized the lack of interaction concluding that it would be better as a "half-price kid's game" or released as a shorter title on the PlayStation Network. Destructoid stated the game was "below average" and gave the game 4 out of 10. They criticized it for jumping on the "co-op bandwagon" and having poor camera angles but did praise amusing cutscenes.
- Captain Qwark claimed that the game was being replaced by Copernicus Qwark's Awesomely Epic 3D Adventure Through Time & Space.
- All 4 One gives a description on how to earn skill points just like Ratchet: Deadlocked.
- Bros Before Foes and Multiple Organisms are the names of issue five and six of the Ratchet & Clank Comics.
Notes and references
- http://www.g4tv.com/videos/48497/PAX-2010-Insomniac-Panel/ at 30:36
- http://g4tv.com/videos/48497/PAX-2010-Insomniac-Panel/ at 33:23
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- Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, PlayStation 3 on metacritic
- "Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One for PlayStation 3" - GameRankings.
- Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Review by Ryhan Clements October 19, 2011 on IGN
- "This Is One For All The Fans Of Co-op Platforming - Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One - PlayStation 3 - www.GameInformer.com
- "Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One PS3 review - Official PlayStation Magazine UK"
- "Review: Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One" - 10.19.2011 on Destructoid by Jim Sterling