Ratchet & Clank: QForce – The PS3 Attitude Review
We’ll be the first to admit that we were extremely disappointed by last year’s Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One, which felt like a real misstep for the franchise. But then earlier this year the HD Trilogy came along, to remind us of exactly why we fell in love with R&C in the first place. So can Ratchet & Clank: QForce also rekindle our fondness for the series, or is it another All 4 One?
We don’t want to give the rest of the review away, but unfortunately the answer to the above question is probably the latter. This is Ratchet & Clank, just not as we know it. The humour has been replaced by repetitive and often inane dialogue; the crazy weapons and gadgets have been replaced by an arsenal we’ve seen before; and the Pixar-quality visuals have been replaced by jagged edges.
Gameplay-wise, QForce retains the platforming and shooting elements that the series is known for, and thankfully also reverts back to the behind-Ratchet camera. However, the main focus of the game is actually on tower defence, with battles taking place in relatively small arena-like areas. In fact, it’s not too dissimilar to something like Iron Brigade.
This consequently gives the title an arcade vibe, so it’s really all about the gameplay, with story taking a backseat. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but QForce is extremely repetitive; you’ll have an idea of what the whole game is like after only the first ten minutes. It appears the inventive and diverse gameplay of previous R&C games is a thing of the past.
The goal of each level is to take control of the enemy base while keeping your own in good shape. As well as stepping into the fray himself, Ratchet can also purchase static turrets, mines and barriers to impede his opponents’ progress. Truth be told, the campaign is a little bland, but you can instantly increase the fun tenfold by playing with a friend in both local and online two-player co-op.
Our first playthrough took around five hours, which seems reasonable considering the game’s budget price. With over 100 skill points to unlock, gold bolts to collect, medals to earn and more, this is clearly a game designed to be played multiple times. However, due to its repetitive nature, we’d question whether many gamers will return once the credits roll.
Although we found the campaign disappointing, Insomniac has at least delivered a little of the old R&C charm. Zooming around in your hover boots is great fun, there’s a half decent twist halfway through the story, and one or two cutscenes had us laughing out loud. The problem is that these moments are few and far between, especially when compared to previous games in the series.
Once you’re done with the campaign, QForce is notable for including competitive online multiplayer; the first R&C game to do so since 2004’s Ratchet & Clank 3. In online matches you can spawn AI squads to fight with you, and your eventual goal is to destroy the opponent’s base. It offers a deceptively tactical experience, but once again it probably won’t hold your interest for long.
Ratchet & Clank: QForce is a very difficult title for us to judge. Is it a good game? Yes, absolutely. But is it a good Ratchet & Clank game? Well, that’s the question. Like All 4 One last year, QForce can be fun when played in short bursts (particularly with a friend), but it’s also missing much of the appeal that made the previous R&C games, particularly the Future trilogy, so awesome.
In a way, Insomniac should be commended for trying something new, but in doing so they’ve broken the golden rule of game design; don’t fix what isn’t broken. If you’re after only cheap throwaway fun then go ahead and give QForce a try, but if you’re looking for an interesting story, charming presentation and varied gameplay then we’d recommend replaying A Crack in Time instead.
This review only covers the PlayStation 3 version of Ratchet & Clank: QForce. We will be revisiting the game in a follow-up article when it arrives on PlayStation Vita in January 2013 (assuming the world hasn’t ended before then).