The Ratchet & Clank All 4 One Game was originally released for Playstation 3, a single-player / coop game and develop by Insomniac Games in 2011. The Insomniac’s dynamic duo find themselves once again part of an ensemble piece, but unlike the recent Move Heroes, All 4 One wisely keeps the pair center stage. As the title suggests, and the four character slots remind, this is a game designed as a co-operative experience. Synchronous switch-pulling, trapeze-style platforming and coordinated shooting are the pivots around which All 4 One’s short, varied levels hinge. After a deep-end opener which sees you and your comrades battling a tower-sized monster in a luscious sci-fi cityscape, you’re sent back to square one. From scratch you level up your characters by smashing and grabbing your way across linear levels which do a good job of keeping you focused on the tasks at hand while entertaining you with a spread of eccentric enemies.
Insomniac’s track record for delivering spectacle shines in environments that range from cavernous depths to vertiginous floating-island heights. A camera fixed somewhere between isometric and top-down (though it flies about the place freely to show you the money shots and deliver some side scrolling action) appropriately associates the experience with games such as X-Men Legends. There’s little of Legends’ grinding depth, however, as All 4 One is light and breezy to the point of being shallow – a shame since it feels like it would benefit from deeper character levelling and development, a sense of personal reward from the communal efforts. While there are skins to be collected, weapons to be bought and competition in the point-scoring, it’s more of a casual party game than before. Insomniac’s relentless efforts to entertain mean you’re barely given time to breathe as you pillage the colorful world for all the nuts and bolts you can find.
Resistance 3 underlined Insomniac’s expertise in weapon and creature design, and it’s a point reinforced by All 4 One. The team’s ability to deliver silliness with a straight face is ever present – each new critter is introduced with glee, and the scripting treads the line between slapstick and pastiche perfectly.
Despite the game’s brevity, however, monotony rears its head during All 4 One’s rigid, arcade-style levels. Ideas such as jetpacks and springboards are wrung for all they’re worth, and if you and your party fail to constantly keep pace, you’ll end up paying the price for your wandering ways.
Like Lara Croft And The Guardian Of Light, All 4 One takes the iconography and personality of a single player brand and applies it to something different. The results are mixed, but it’s a detour into new territory that will satisfy co-op players as it maintains, rather than distills, the essence of its ancestry.
Ratchet & Clank – All 4 One is available on PlayStation 3 and was released on October 18, 2011.