With more and more new series coming into the gaming world all the time, it’s great to see classics still given attention with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario. Another one of the classics is of course the Ratchet & Clank series that now spans 10 years from 2002. Insomniac have now brought Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force (Full Frontal Assault in America) in the hope that it brings joy to both veterans and newcomers to the series. Does this latest adventure do the series justice? Or is the Ratchet & Clank series ready to be put down for good? Read the full review below to find out.
Game: Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The story that features in Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force sees Ratchet, Clank and Captain Qwark team up to defend the world from the oncoming Grungarians. After all coming along on the Starship Phoenix II, Qwark starts moaning about how there is no challenge in the galaxy and how he has nothing to blast with the guns, which then in ‘surprising’ fashion, brings along the Grungarians. These Grungarians are headed by Zurgo who comes across as an evil character who is hidden behind a mask. Getting behind the mask however, it is soon found out that Zurgo was a crazed fan of Captain Qwark who now feels betrayed by Qwark and is now set on causing devastation for Qwark and all in his path. It is up to the team of Ratchet, Clank and Qwark to stop Zurgo and his team from taking over a variety of worlds in the galaxy. The Ratchet & Clank series have never really been one for its depth story-wise so it’s hardly surprising that Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force follows the same trend as its predecessors.
The graphics in Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force are certainly some of the best that have featured in the series of this generation of consoles. The variety of worlds that you visit along the way in order to stop Zurgo and his team of Grungarians certainly have that Ratchet & Clank distinct feel and look to them. The enemies also have the look that you can only expect from a Ratchet and Clank game, which get wilder and wilder as you progress through the game’s story.
The main characters in the game are as detailed as you’d expect and I personally found it very funny as to me, Qwark was detailed to look like a certain Mr Incredible from The Incredibles. Each level is also laid out very nicely with quite large areas. Nothing feels squashed in and if Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force does end up being the last Ratchet and Clank adventure on this generation of consoles, Insomniac Games have certainly gone out on a high.
The Ratchet & Clank series is known for its quirky humor in the sound department and it’s no different in Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force, especially with the main character, Ratchet. In this latest adventure, there any many quirky and humourous moments in terms of Ratchet telling his jokes and overall humour in the game in typical Ratchet & Clank fashion. The other sounds that feature in the game also work well with the game and whilst the voice acting in the game isn’t anything spectacular, it does the job of what the story is asking. Certainly the sound in the game will appeal to a more casual, younger audience but it’s good to see the game’s sound take on a more lighter, funny direction.
I will say first that if you’re expecting a simple platforming title, which you would get in the early years of Ratchet & Clank, then I’m afraid that Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force isn’t the title for you. Insomniac Games have made the brave choice of going from the series roots and to some degree, it certainly works. The game has some of its traditional platforming roots but also brings the series into fresh water with a more strategic direction. As you go through the game, trying to stop the Grungarians from taking over each world, you also have to make sure that your own base is fully protected and that your generators stay intact, as if the enemies destroy all your generators, the game is over and you will have to start again.
Sounds easy enough but the CPU brings across a hell of a challenge, which will result in you frustratingly having to go through the levels over and over again. One of these challenges is when the Grungarian forces decide to front an attack on your base. Although it doesn’t sound complicated, these attacks will often occur when you’re on the other side of the map, which mentioned before are quite large. It is then a race against time to get back in order to defend your base before all your generators are destroyed. I found my generators getting easily destroyed as I was eagerly trying to get back to defend it. If your generators are half destroyed, which is notified from the green health bar, you can restore its full health by using the bolts that you have collected.
These bolts, which are basically the currency that is used in the game, can be gathered by destroying the numerous crates that are scattered throughout the world. Players are only awarded the basic weapon at the start of the level, which won’t be enough get you through to the very end whilst trying to deactivate the enemies’ key nodes. Instead, players have multiple weapon chambers in which they can unlock different weapons in the game, such as flamethrowers and rocket launchers which are great help to your cause.
Players can also buy mines and turrets which will help block the Grungarians from getting into the base. As said before, all this makes up for a very challenging single player experience, but there is also the option of online or local co-op through the campaign. This allows for a much easier passage through the game as one player can stay and defend the base whilst the other player can go through and deactivate the key nodes in order to progress to the next stage.
If you’re only interested in going through the game’s single player offering, then the game will only last 4-5 hours at most due to the lack of levels in the game. The game’s main offering comes from the co-op and online offering in which players can play through matches in teams against others. This makes the game much more fun and certainly brings the strategic elements of the game to life and makes you think about what to do and also what weapons you and your team can acquire. Available at a budget price, Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force certainly has a lot to offer, only if players are prepared to explore the co-op and online options that are available. The fact that players get the PlayStation Vita version for free in January when purchasing the PlayStation 3 version also makes this particular title a great purchase.
Taking Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force away from its roots in which the series has been so successful and whilst it is challenging and frustrating at some points, Insomniac Games have certainly created a fun game with this latest title, but that’s not to say they shouldn’t return to the great platforming roots in the future. Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force proves that there is indeed life in the old dog yet. Whether they can come up with more ideas for the franchise in the future is a question for another time but for now, job done, Insomniac.