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Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Reviews


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Initial post: Nov 27, 2012 10:03:17 AM PST
That Emu Kid says:
The first one is in from Eurogamer. It's... not fantastic. They seemed to really enjoy the MP, though.

Note: the title of the game is QForce in Europe, and that's what it's referred to as in this review.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-11-27-ratchet-and-clank-qforce-review

Nestled in amongst the studio logos and copyright messages as you boot up Ratchet & Clank: QForce is a logo proclaiming 2012 to be the 10th anniversary of the sci-fi odd couple. The series has averaged one game a year across its decade-long lifespan, with the clumsily titled QForce marking the 11th outing for the quick-witted lombax and his mechanical pal.

Most game series have run out of steam after reaching this milestone, with the sort of 3D platform romps that Ratchet and Clank inhabit proving especially susceptible to the rigours of age. Perhaps that's why Insomniac's most recent entries have felt a little... desperate. Between last year's limp and chaotic co-op scramble All 4 One and QForce's attempt to inject mob strategy into the series, it seems confidence in the characters' core appeal is at a low ebb. QForce is a platform game that's apparently terrified of being a platform game.

Instead, it's a tower defence hybrid, and a sadly clumsy one at that. Each level is now a self-contained maze with a mass of generators at one end. If the enemy destroys all of these, it's game over. Access to this area is down two linear pathways, along which are scattered fixed points where you can place turrets, mines and barriers. Periodically, waves of enemies start marching towards your position and you must repel them by any means necessary.

Weapons level up with use, with three tiers of increasing power to unlock.
So far, so predictable. However, you need to be a bit more proactive than simply fortifying your choke points and waiting. In between attacks, you need to venture out into the level to accomplish a variety of tasks. Your main goal is to activate the key nodes needed to reboot the planetary defence systems for each world. Doing this means running a gauntlet of various enemy types and destroying a series of shields.

The problem is that you start each level without any weapons other than your trusty wrench, and so must also scout around the level seeking out weapon pods to gain access to such tools and gadgets as the Warmonger, Thundersmack and other familiar arsenal items from previous games.

You're also on the lookout for crates that can be smashed in order to earn the nuts and bolts required to purchase the various defences for your base. These accumulate slowly - a good foraging expedition generally nets around 5000 - and since the most effective turrets and barriers cost at least several thousand each, it takes several rounds to set up even a basic defensive line.

It's not as if these expensive defences are particularly robust. Barriers crumble quickly and turrets seem to take more damage than they can dish out. The inevitable result of this is a constant back-and-forth as you abandon assaults on enemy positions or the hunt for a new weapon pod in order to dash back to base - through often confusing layouts - in order to do the job of fighting back yourself. Even then, you'll find yourself rushing from one side of the base area to the other, covering both entry points and bashing crates to restock on ammo and health, rather than relying on your feeble automated defences.

You can use rocket boots to get around faster, but at the cost of precision control.
The tower defence genre has always rested on a bedrock of frantic plate-spinning, but QForce takes it to a ludicrous extreme, spamming you with tough enemies, limiting your resources and generally making every inch of progress in the game's disappointingly thin story feel like more trouble than it's worth. This is a ferociously difficult game, but one that rarely feels like it's playing fair. Too often it seems to be punishing the player for stopping to think, exploring too far or simply trying something different.

If you're playing solo, that is. After the lukewarm reception that greeted All 4 One it's understandable that the co-op element has been downplayed for this entry, but that doesn't make it any less of a multiplayer game. With two players, either playing locally or online, things come into better focus. One can venture forth into the level while the other guards the base, or both can assault different enemy key nodes at the same time. More to the point, with two players in action accumulating currency, it's possible to stockpile bolts, establish a solid defensive line of turrets and engage with actual strategy rather than being constantly forced onto the back foot.

The game is more satisfying in co-op, but it still never really finds an enjoyable rhythm, the solo platforming and combat forever interrupted by the tower defence element rather than working in harmony. Third-person action and tower defence can work - see the superficially similar Orcs Must Die! - but QForce's clumsy genre patchwork feels more like an awkward attempt to latch onto a popular gameplay mechanic rather than an organic direction for the series to take. The steep in-game economy deters you from experimenting, the balancing between damage taken and dished out is all wrong and the core concept pulls in two directions at once to no great effect.

If the game has a saving grace, it's the competitive multiplayer, which unfolds with a pace and structure far more conducive to the strategic underpinnings of tower defence. Play is intimate - two against two is the biggest match type - and the maps are clearer, tighter and simply more fun to play in.

The game quickly introduces tougher foes, such as hulking tanks and giant monsters, which take a long time to defeat when playing solo.
Matches are broken up into three rounds. In the first you race around the map, claiming key nodes for your side. Each generates a constant stream of currency to fund your building. That follows in the second phase, in which you not only spend your bolts on the expected defences, but on squads of aliens that will attack the opposing team. The final phase is the assault, and you're free to lead the charge or man the barricades as the occasion demands.

It's simple but effective, and it's baffling why some of these ideas are restricted to multiplayer. The use of key nodes to generate bolts is particularly useful, since that would solve many of the solo campaign's frustrations at a stroke, enabling the tower defence elements to stand up by themselves rather than becoming a frustrating grind.

But a grind it is, and that's a crushing disappointment given the Ratchet & Clank heritage. The series has taken a few wrong turns in its time, but always retained a clear sense of identity and a charming wit that saw it through its more ill-advised spin-offs. These are almost completely missing from QForce, a game which too often barely resembles the beloved classics it sprang from. Worst of all, Clank only appears in the gameplay if a second player joins in, meaning that those playing solo don't even get the benefit of the traditional banter that fans adore outside of the cut-scenes. Certainly, you could swap the character models for almost anything else and the 10-year lineage would be hard to spot.

The game always looks good, and it amuses sporadically, but there's no heart - and following on from the similarly scattershot All 4 One, it sets a worrying precedent. Ratchet and Clank are in danger of losing their way. Insomniac needs to regain confidence in its still-popular series and play to its strengths rather than chasing trends for the sake of change.

6/10

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:20:24 AM PST
Phranctoast says:
Sounds like a better MP experience which is what I took from the beta. Also the issues he has seem like RTS problems than tower defense. Fetching and management of resources while building to attack and defend. Other than the AI bots that get sent to you in waves, this sounds like a Third person RTS with R+C, and it only costs $20.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:23:49 AM PST
That Emu Kid says:
Yeah, for $20 and cross-buy (unfortunately not at launch), this still sounds pretty good to me.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:28:06 AM PST
Technosapien says:
I'm getting this when the store updates. Sounds fun to me.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:30:19 AM PST
McAwesomeo says:
I'm probably going to pass and keep waiting for a full Ratchet and Clank game. I'm not a tower defense fan, so I don't think I'll get this one despite cross-buy.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:30:35 AM PST
Paper Tiger says:
I'll get this in January when it's available on the Vita.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:41:32 AM PST
can you add me to your WiiU?

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:42:53 AM PST
Benpachi says:
Whateva, I'm picking this up after work.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:45:20 AM PST
Paper Tiger says:
I will. I'm in the midst of playing Vesperia on the 360 atm so next time I'm on the U I will try to add the VGF crew!

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:49:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 10:57:46 AM PST
R. Typo says:
I almost grabbed the Ratchet HD collection at Walmart for 15 for the Up Your Arsenal MP, but I resisted and picked up Jak and Daxter instead (never played those somehow, I know right?!). I still might grab Ratchet, I can play it in 3d now, that and the UYA mp would seem to make it worth 15 bones.

Back on topic, Ratchet has been turned into a wh0re with his last couple of games. A filthy, disease ridden lombax in need of some medicine.

PS - I was able to sell Most Wanted on ebazzle for 42 dollahs, and one hollah.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:53:53 AM PST
FOGE says:
Good! Let us know how it is! Im losing faith in reviewers. Thank God(if you still believe in him ;) ) for you guys.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 11:03:12 AM PST
Benpachi says:
I'll be sure to post some impressions after I put some time in.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 11:10:15 AM PST
That Emu Kid says:
Best Buy is only giving $15 for it now. This makes me extremely emu.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 11:29:51 AM PST
GarionOrb says:
A 6/10 game that sells for $20 new and includes a free Vita version still sounds like an awesome deal. If you're into tower defense mixed with R&C.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 11:32:44 AM PST
Soulshine says:
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One taught me that even the worst R&C game is going to be kind of fun.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 11:40:49 AM PST
D_Strasse says:
I like Tower Defense games but words like "punishingly hard" freak me out.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 2:05:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 2:05:29 PM PST
That Emu Kid says:
A second review is up from a site called "Push Square." It's nearly identical to Eurogamer's review. 6/10.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 6:24:37 PM PST
Arizona-Heat says:
After reading your review, I regret ordering this a couple of days ago. I have a feeling this will be similar to the last piece of garbage-All For 1.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 7:06:46 PM PST
saskamazon says:
I bought it today ... maybe the MP will make it shine, either way, I have learned to try games myself rather than blindly follow reviews. & at the $20 day 1 ticket of admission, I am willing to roll the dice. :-) sadly, I won't get to play it until after Dec. 25th ...

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 8:53:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 3:41:33 AM PST
Technosapien says:
I've played it for a couple hours , and so far, I really like it. Definitely deserves a higher score. It's different than any other R&C game, but it's very fun, IMO.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 9:43:04 PM PST
Horowitz says:
Fuse is next. All 4 One, FFA, and soon Fuse. I hope Insomniac gets back to their roots sometime soon before it's too late.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:03:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 10:06:42 PM PST
I got it today and played through the first level. Haven't gone online yet, but it was a lot of fun. Very different from the other R&C games. Considering it's only $20, I don't understand why anyone would give it a low score....unless it becomes completely broken at the end or something. So far I'm having a blast.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 8:11:23 AM PST
shiftless says:
I agree with Ratchet and Techno. Just judging the game on its own merits, so far it is a ton of fun, and definitely worth $20. It really looks like the reviewers giving it a lower score were expecting something completely different. No, this is not ToD or ACIT...but all of the articles and blog posts throughout the summer have been completely up-front about what to expect from this game, so I don't get it. All 4 One was ok for co-op, but it did have some frustrating issues, and it looks like this game addresses those issues (camera!). On top of which, it looks like something you can pick up, join up with some friends, play a level or two, and do something else...this would be ideal on the Vita when it comes out. I am pretty confident that Insomniac will eventually deliver another full-featured, story-driven R&C game, but for now, FFA is a lot of fun.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 8:13:11 AM PST
FOGE says:
You should be safe. Typically games get better towards the end bc the devs are used to developing the game by that point.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 8:18:49 AM PST
D_Strasse says:
Why all the hate for All4One? I've been co-oping it with teh wife and I like it just fine.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  17
Total posts:  30
Initial post:  Nov 27, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 29, 2012

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