Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: SCEE
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-2 co-op split screen, 1-4 split screen multiplayer & online co-op and multiplayer.
Words By:

And so the PlayStation’s most prolific duo is back, once again fighting alongside the hapless, vain moron Captain Quark against a massive and relentless alien invasion masterminded by a mysterious super villain-and here's a shocker; it's a face that R&C regulars will instantly recognise...

Q-Force plays in the same way as the other PS3 R&C games, and much like any other third-person action game; movement is controlled with the left stick and you look/aim the camera with the right. Weapons are fired with the R1 ‘trigger’ and you hold the L1 button to strafe/shoot target while retreating. The ‘square’ button is your meleé attack with your trusty Omniwrench and ‘circle’ operates the Swingshot when available. The R2 button lights up your Hoverboots (you have them full time, from the start of the game this time) which are used to extend jumps and zoom around the areas with great speed. Overall it’s an elegant and proven control system, and weapons can be quickly selected with the D-pad or holding ‘triangle’ pops up a selection dial that also allows for the rapid selection of up to 8 weapons and offensive/defensive gadgets with the left stick.

The attack plunges three planets into chaos and Ratchet, Clank and Quark (what is left of Q-Force) zoom to the rescue in the Starship Phoenix II. Short though it is, the game has the series’ trademark story-based adventure, interspersed with quality cut-scenes and with the series' usual humour and massively over-the-top weaponry. Three planets isn’t a lot for a Ratchet & Clank game, but there are in fact 5 levels. Four of them play like a tower defence game and one is an all-out attack on the enemy base: Korgon Refinery (desert-like), GrummelNet Plasma Harvester (industrial complex), and three levels set on Zurgo’s Lair of Doom (jungly), the Hidden City of Balkai, and Balkai in a snow storm. And this is where one of Q-Force’s failings becomes apparent; any lifespan over about 4 hours is reliant on you playing the multiplayer game and replaying the solo/co-op campaign to improve your times/earn medals, but I was enamoured enough with the game to get the missus to have a go at the co-op, so you may well be too.

Q-Force follows the last R&C game (All 4 One) and offers a successful foray into co-op gameplay with a full split-screen and online support. You can also compete in exciting battles for up to four players via the PlayStation Network. The graphics are simply dazzling; when aboard the Phoenix if you removed Ratchet & Clank and replaced them with Commander Shepard from Mass Effect or Master Chief from Halo they wouldn’t look out of place. The amount of on-screen action is at times, amazing and as usual Insomniac have provided us with weapons that produce SO much mayhem that occasionally the series’ famous game engine-overload-slowdown is present and correct.

I've got to say that the game is slickly presented, but although there’s a cut-scene when you leave or return to the Starship Phoenix II it doesn’t mask the loading as in the old trilogy, which renders it virtually pointless, which is disappointing.

The multiplayer mode is a 2-4 player MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and is addictive and fun for a while, particularly when in voice communication with your team mate (for some unknown reason headset owning players still seem few and far between on PSN). The format is two similar but not identical bases set in a location with a similar look and feel to the levels from the game. Games tend to be won by quick and aggressive attacks rather than clever tactical use of the weapons, mines, turrets and AI–controlled drones available to you. Perhaps unsurprisingly 2 versus 2 games work much better than 1 Vs 1, which often seem to end up as total anticlimaxes. We also had a number of games where opponents just dropped from the game when it was inevitable they were going to lose, and this is obviously always frustrating and annoying.

Also thanks to one of Sony’s best ever ideas PS Vita owners can continue the PS3 adventure thanks to the Cross-Save feature-basically this means when you buy the PS3 version of Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force, whether on retail Blu-ray Disc or from PlayStation Store download, you get to download the game to your PS Vita at no additional cost! Like I said, this seems like a great idea and will surely tip undecided potential PS Vita buyers in the right direction.

We hear this may be the last we see of Ratchet & Clank, and if true that’s a real shame, but Q-Force is short, sweet and beautifully formed, especially if you consider the price (under £16 everywher we checked.) The problem is that its tower defence, RTS-lite-style and MOBA gameplay isn’t going to sate fans of the series lusting after a new, full-length solo or co-op crate-smashing, bolt collecting, enemy blasting, vehicle driving, spacecraft flying adventure. But in the absence of that it’s a heck of a lot better than nothing.

Best Bits

- Dazzling graphics please the eye.
- Frantic yet tactical and fun tower defence gameplay.
- Great sound and music.
- Flawed but enjoyable multiplayer.
- Budget price.
Worst Bits

- Tower defence is a "Marmite" game.
- Multiplayer game quitters.
- Shortish lifespan for the solo gamer.

by: Diddly

Copyright © Gamecell 2013