As a Ratchet and Clank novice, I came into this particular title with zero expectations. I more often than not believe that if a game is not paved with excessive violence that it will fail to be entertaining. Ratchet and Clank Q-Force however proves this assertion to be inaccurate. Humorous, fun and action packed, this 10th anniversary of the Ratchet and Clank franchise is an entertaining ride for either solo gamers or those interested in the multiplayer functionality.
Graphically, Ratchet and Clank Q-force is a very bright and beautiful experience that pits the player in lush fertile jungles, volcanic wastelands and metallic bases. The detail to every character is sublime and really brings the game to life right before your eyes.
On an entirely different subject, the controls are very easy to operate, the learning curve lasting only a few minutes before you have officially mastered all that you need for battlefield supremacy.
At the beginning of the game, Ratchet, Clank and Captain Quark are on the Starship Phoenix 2, before being heralded by a new antagonistic force who has taken control of this particular sector of space and wishes to put the power of the Q-Force to the test by seeing if they can yet again save the day. The game’s humour is immediately introduced from the start and continues throughout the entire play through, none of the witty banter ever getting old, and even when combat dialogue has being said numerous times over, it still manages to bring a smile.
Over the course of the game, the player is able to choose where they intend to do battle. It doesn’t matter in what order you complete the missions for inevitably, every planet will need to be saved for the game to proceed. It is perhaps here that the game is at its weakest, with each mission being incredibly repetitive, the storyline suffering due to this. However, with regards to the fun you are likely to encounter and the ability to play as different characters and make alternate choices, Ratchet and Clank Q-Force redeems itself through its many replayable features.
Upon arrival on a planet, the Q-Force has a base of operations powered by six generators. If the player loses all of these, the base is destroyed and the mission is a failure. As objectives are completed, enemies will be sent to the Q-Force base to bring it down, and thus the player is forced to continuously return to save the day, the game revealing on your HUD whenever enemies are attempting to invade.
Teleporters out in the field make it easier to return to base, and when not in reach, the booster pads equipped to each player allow them to navigate the map at a terrific speed. Additionally, base defences including turrets, mines and barriers, with more becoming accessible as the game continues, are used to offer additional protection. These are purchased with the use of bolts that are acquired out in the field from the decimation of enemies and containers, and the completion of objectives.
Map objectives involve shutting down key nodes to leave the planetary defence centre vulnerable before taking this over to maintain security in the region, both the nodes and the defence centres being protected by a wealth of bad guys and, on occasion, traps and hazards. Enemies in general have a wide range of attacks, ranging from those that need to be in close proximity, to others that can attack from afar, the player having to adjust their tactics for the given situations, with attacks by stronger opponents often being quite devastating. Fighting enemies is made easier though by the sheer fact that every enemy is a sandwich short of a picnic, and rather than taking cover, charge relentlessly with no care in the world for their own preservation.
Every time a mission begins, the player has no weapons, with the exception of their melee armament. Weapons are acquired through exploration, with the stronger weapons located further into the maps, more often than not in difficult areas surrounded not only by enemies, but environmental hazards. Weapons in general range from the Combuster, a conventional pop gun, to the Pyro Blaster (flame thrower), and stronger arms including the ever humorous Sonic Erupter (basically a giant burping device), the always entertaining Mr. Zurkon (a flying robot, who apparently does not discriminate – he kills everyone) and my personal favourite, the Plasmabomb Launcher (a fancy name for a powerful grenade launcher). The more a particular weapon is used, the higher the chance it will automatically upgrade, allowing the player to wield more ammunition and do greater damage, with these upgrades carrying over through the missions even if the weapons themselves do not.
Upon the completion of a mission, the Q-Force returns to the Starship Phoenix 2 to pick their next assignment. Here, players can receive promotions after a job well done which can upgrade weapons and player abilities. Furthermore, during a game in progress, a player can leave, and upon returning to the mission zone every objective will have remained completed and every weapon collected will still be equipped – however every enemy will have returned to punish your forfeiture of the map.
As the game progresses, maps become increasingly more challenging, with the game basically insinuating it’s want for the gamer to play cooperatively with another. Ironically however, there are no benefits to playing the game in co-op – in fact, the challenges become exponentially more difficult. Enemies continuously flock towards your base of operations and punish every mistake with certain death, and it becomes considerably annoying to watch some of the most brainless creatures in all of history decimating you time and time again. Team work and patience is thus essential for co-op game play, and the drop-in, drop-out system allows players to experiment with this particular game variant.
Multiplayer moreover is not quite what I had expected, and instead of a deathmatch or like equivalent, this particular feature bears similarity to the campaign, with the exception that it is separated into three intervals; scouting, squad and assault. During the scouting phase, the players must go out and capture nodes to acquire the bolts necessary to build up the assets at their base, the nodes additionally supplying the players with the weapons and abilities they need to continue. The more nodes a team has the more bolts they acquire, however, the nodes are defended by AI controlled defences that will attempt to thwart your attempts at controlling them.
In squad, the teams use the bolts they have acquired to assemble a team of AI combatants to take on the opposing team’s equivalent for the final aspect of the match, assault, where the players must accompany their troops to the enemy base, protecting them from enemy fire before assisting them in decimating the opposition.
Although it does not allow a great mass of players to become involved, and is quite an exhausting process, it is surprisingly original, however, at the end of the day neither the campaign nor the multiplayer is very long, with the campaign itself lasting anywhere between six to eight hours.
In conclusion, Ratchet and Clank Q-Force proves that after ten years, there is still life in the old Lombax yet that is worthy of consideration – if only there were more mission objectives and levels to enjoy.